Installation at the Benaki Museum Pireos Annexe
21 November 2013 – 19 January 2014
20 collages and one single channel video projection with sound.
For his project, Adam Chodzko stages a retrospective exhibition of imaginary Benaki Museum posters from the near future, installed along the liminal space of the Pireos building’s ramp. Through this poster series, the Benaki Museum is seen to have spread into surprising and awkward venues across Greece, ending up scattered and yet whole. Accompanying this collection of future exhibition posters is a video which documents the various ‘private collections’ that have been custodians of these records of the museum’s activities. Revealing a series of ordinary domestic spaces where these posters have hung – and acquired their ‘aura’ from traces of age and use – we see that, rather than originating from official and national sources, they are on loan from diverse, remote and unexpected places.
‘The process began by imagining, projecting myself from the present into the future, some fifty years from now, staring at an old museum poster hanging on the back wall of a café and feeling excited about the possibilities contained within an exhibition I had missed. So I begin with an atmosphere, an emotional response to this possibility. I always like the idea of a cultural shift into both a more poetic state where bigger leaps of imagination can take place, but also that experimentation becoming simultaneously a very ordinary part of everyday life, spread diversely and for everyone. The existence of a crisis, which could be economic, political or environmental, could help catalyse this change.’
Adam Chodzko considers the museum as an emotional and idiosyncratic living being, which becomes increasingly hybrid and integrates into daily life. He imagines the moment where it reflects on its recent activities and challenges us to reconsider and deconstruct stereotypes regarding both its audience and its exhibits. This process leads us to make assumptions about who a museum might be for and who defines the meaning and value of a nation’s culture and thus takes responsibility for preserving and promoting it.
‘I think my interest in embarking on the project was partly the current economic crisis in Greece gradually narrowing down the operations of the museum and yet at the same time witnessing amongst individuals an incredible pragmatism and resistance to these economic limitations.
I was also really amazed by the Benaki photographic archive, an incredible collection of images and for it to function, entirely dependent on its custodians’ memory of the images it contains.’
The installation You’ll See; This Time it’ll Be Different reflects on the role of the museum in the representation of history, memory, knowledge and tradition, as well as on the conditions of viewing and on the relation between artistic production and the institutional space of its reception.
‘I find it very useful to think of art developing an incredible significance in society whilst at the same time necessarily going into a state of collapse with the current community that makes it happen. So the “end of art” becomes the beginning of a total combining of art and life and the elevation of art into becoming a fundamental visionary daily event that all of us use.
I think the big danger to our museums and artists – and indeed culture in general – is of increased interference by governments and corporate sponsors who’s priority is business-based maintaining the power of a few. It is a massively short-termist and self-interested approach to try to use art to serve a current ideology, or indeed censor art to avoid art’s questioning of the dominant culture. The global economic crisis perfectly serves a conservative agenda to massively limit the provocative questions an experimental culture could offer, because they don’t make good business sense. At least not in the present. And without difficult and awkward questions a culture soon stagnates and becomes very, very dull.’