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Exhibition Info


In December of 2008, POTNIA THIRON changed its name, adding to it the designation Bank of Attention. Exarcheia had then become the battleground that would ignite the eruption of young people throughout the entire country. The renaming of POTNIA THIRON—BankofAttention, alongside the looted branches of banks, was an attempt to invert the meaning of the credit practice that had been in place, to seek a deposit and withdrawal of attention—a process aimed at comprehending the new situation.

The crisis that ensued—and continues to this day—demands an even greater concentration of attention, an even deeper exploration, a more intensive search and new ways of action. All of this is not easy, in the least. But when faced with this difficulty, one turns to the wise words of Pablo Picasso: ‘I do not search. Ifind.’

The exhibition—which bears what is, at first glance, the odd title of Spirit Fermenting according to the Circumstances—was born of a characterization given by a newspaper at the start of the 20th century to describe the activity of a groundbreaking credit institution, the Bank of Athens, which, shortly following its establishment, ruffled the financial landscape of Greece through its business acumen. Thus, a bank once again finds itself at the starting-point of an idea to test this spirit, in another field and time—in the organization of a visual arts exhibition that adjusts itself to present conditions using different materials and manners. The exhibition is divided into three interlinked sections: (a) The broadening of the content of the exhibits, since the unit used is the ‘aesthetic object’—that is, that which we react about and describe using aesthetic terms; (b) The introduction of a new way of transacting, which demands the continuous renewal of the exhibition; and, (c) The three live mini-performances—puppet theatre, song and dance—as well as a look at the philosophy of nutrition, are all events that comprise a part of the exhibition and will be repeated regularly throughout the course of its run.

In this way, just as the very process of organizing the exhibition incorporated fermentation and adjustment to special circumstances, the spirit of this fermentation will remain active for the duration of its operation as well. And, since maturation is a dimension of fermentation, the exhibition Spirit Fermenting according to the Circumstances will also be aspiring to introduce the attributes of the acting spirit into the mired art market of today.

Spirit fermenting according to the circumstances

1. In 1903, a financial newspaper wrote of the Bank of Athens that it had created a new banking environment, ‘something closely approaching the newer European one, something free, flowing, easy, supple, a spirit fermenting according to the circumstances.’ This description of the new spirit at the start of the 20th century, despite referring to the mundane world of credit entrepreneurship, sufficed artistically to provide the idea for this exhibition: How could we negotiate this description today, within the contemporary environment, detaching it from the historical framework to which it refers and transferring it to / testing it within the domain of the organization of an artistic event, placing the signifier of the phrase and what is signified by the words in a critical juxtaposition?

2. The circumstances of today are the crisis: The bubble of the carefree economic development of the last two decades of the 20th century burst, the end of the story was deferred to a future tense and the crisis embraced the lives of people completely, giving rise to a soul-destroying uncertainty. The market as a whole—and the art market specifically—collapsed, sweeping along with it the flashy, overpriced art that expressed this social situation.

3. On the other hand, faced with the circumstances, what is required is a renewal and change of action, a restructuring of orientation and appraisals, a revision of practices: What more appropriate than a fermenting spirit, one that continuously assimilates, readjusts and, consequently, changes and reacts to changing conditions? This reaction is either adaptive or interventionist; or, it might be adaptive in order to become interventionist. Simultaneously, ‘fermentation,’ according to the second definition of the word, is a process of maturation and completion.

4. The title lays the groundwork for an exhibition that does not follow the beaten track, one that is different in order to correspond to it in terms of substance and manner. Developing this reasoning further, the ‘fermenting spirit’ is not only the object of the exhibition, but also the inverse: The exhibition itself is its object.

5. We try to broaden the spectrum: The unit of the exhibition is not the artwork, but rather the  ‘aesthetic object.’

Aesthetic object

6. These are objects against which we react and which we describe in aesthetic terms. Besides the natural landscape—which is integrated easily into this category—there is a whole category on human activity (attire, decoration, furniture, etc), in which aesthetics and taste play an important role.

7. Thus the class of aesthetic objects is an "open" class, a family always capable of extending itself by marriage or adoption, and the concept "aesthetic object" is an "open" concept in the sense that we can never specify all the necessary and sufficient conditions an entity must satisfy to fall under it.1

8. The perpetual theoretical discussion that accompanies the concept of the ‘aesthetic object,’ as well as the objections that have been expressed, are all ‘fertile food’ for the exhibition, which appeals directly to the market and tests theoretical research aimed at the formation of an aesthetics of everyday life, according to recent theoretical research as well.2

9. Of great interest is the analytical distinction that the arts symbolize the general motifs of our emotional life, presenting to our perception the form or structure of this life, while ‘aesthetic objects’ symbolize the qualities of our aesthetic experience.3

10. More generally, ‘What is noteworthy about art-centered aesthetics is that its
discussion focuses exclusively on how art objects and their experiences differ from other objects and experiences. At the same time, any discussion regarding the aesthetic dimension of non-art objects is almost always conducted by examining to what extent they are similar to art. As a result, the aesthetics of non-art objects is typically discussed in terms of whether or not they can be considered art. I
believe that this art-centered approach misconstrues the nature of our aesthetic lives, as well as unduly limits its scope.’4

11. Art still constitutes the measure for the formation of the general (universal) aesthetic criterion. The discussion around the need to establish an autonomous—in terms of art—aesthetic field for non-art objects is partly on account of, and a response to, the crisis in visual arts, which, in our times, are being almost completely exhausted in terms of invention and technique.

1 Weitz, Morris. ‘The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,’ reprinted in Margolis, Joseph. Philosophy Looks at the Arts (New York, 1962), pp. 54-55.

2 In the collective work The Aesthetics of Everyday Life, edited by Light, Andrew and Smith, Jonathan M., Columbia University Press, New York 2005, an attempt is made to establish a theory of aesthetics concerning the landscape, weather, smells and tastes, and food, among other things.

3 Zimmerman, Robert L. ‘Can Anything Be an Aesthetic Object?’ in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Winter, 1966), pp. 179-180, analyzing the ideas of Susanne Langer.

4 Saito, Yuriko. Everyday Aesthetics, Oxford University Press, 2007.

The Exhibition as Fermentation

12. With the broadening of the unit to the ‘aesthetic object,’ the exhibition incorporates different kinds of works and aesthetic currents, which, in turn, contribute to the fermentation and the dialogue inside the very body of the exhibition; these include design, ‘extra-institutional art,’ ‘green aesthetics’ and food.

13. On the other hand, this broadening offers the freedom for different objects to come into contact with one another—their common denominator, however, being aesthetics—and facilitates the negotiation of the intermediate forms, with unclear boundaries separating decorative, utilitarian and artistic elements.

14. From the time Ettore Sottsass created the Memphis group in the aim of helping the product get away from its strict functionalism, design moved closer to the concept of the artwork. Would it be inapt, on the other hand, if we were to say that a part of art is adjusted to demand, and thus becomes decorative?

15. ‘Extra-institutional art’ (as the term ‘street art’ is rendered in Greek) has, by now, become a world language that communicates its ideas on the walls of cities and creates new aesthetic values without being imprisoned by these. This spirit of freedom is transported to the exhibition space, is blended with the other exhibits and converses with them.

16. Nature in the city, green flat roofs and green roofs in general, are a vital need of our times. The way this is integrated into the exhibition is by way of a proposal aimed at the mingling of viability with aesthetics, in relation to very recent quests for a ‘green aesthetic.’1

17. The means of transaction is the practical way for the renewal of the exhibition for the length of its run. Thus, the relations between the exhibits will change, without the internal balance of the exhibition being distorted. Potentially, the exhibition might be completely different, on the day it closes, from the day of its inauguration, having undergone the fermentation of the market.

1 See Hosey, Lance. The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology and Design, 2012; how and why aesthetics will have to be an inextricable element of sustainable design.

The Exhibition as Aesthetic Object

18. The exhibition itself has been set up and operates as an aesthetic object. An organic element of this operation is the animation of three of its points through short performances from the worlds of the puppet theatre, dance and song. When not being performed live, these will be display items within the exhibition area.

19. We follow the theoretical discussion on whether food is art—or, at least, minor art.1 An original philosophical approach to food—through a visual narrative using the works of outstanding painters as the material—is presented within the framework of the exhibition.

20. The exhibition Spirit Fermenting according to the Circumstances constitutes a proposal for further development.

1 Telfer, Elizabeth. Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food, Routledge, London, 1996; Kuehn, Glenn. How Can Food Be Art?’ in The Aesthetics of Everyday Life, op.cit., pp. 194-212.


Installation Photos