The art exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp (October 31, 2016 – January 29, 2017) – co-curated by Katerina Koskina and Bart De Baere – is the first temporary exhibition in the long overdue opening of Greece’s National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST). Thus, it is essentially restarting the temporary exhibition activities of EMST, which had been suspended in 2015 on account of its relocation at its permanent home (the historic FIX building).

The exhibition is a co-production of EMST and the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA), marking the commencement of the programme “EMST in the World”, and the planning of which began in 2015 aiming to connect EMST with other Museums and Institutions of Contemporary and Modern Art around the world. In these series, works from the EMST collection will “converse” with works from collections of other Museums, revealing affinities, different approaches, currents and dynamics of contemporary artistic creation. The aim is the study of the contribution of contemporary art to local and global key issues as well as the partnership on an artistic, educational, political and research level with other organizations sharing the same principles and orientation.

Box Man by Eleni Mylonas (2011), Land by Stefanos Tsivopoulos (2006), Middle Passage by Alan Sekula (1993)_ ©EMSTAthens and Antwerp seem to represent two extremes of Europe today, but at the same time Greece and Flanders are both regions of Europe that have added many crucial threads to its cultural fabric. Institutions like EMST and M HKA may further cultivate that. In this direction, the exhibition “Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp” seeks to foster a theoretical and visual dialogue within multifaceted Europe, by presenting more than 70 works from 66 Greek and Belgian artists, structured around 22 thematic units. Thus, it enacts the belief of both museums that works of art may constantly produce new meanings, open questions and initiate a much desired dialogue, that basic ground for human culture.

In April 2017, the exhibition will also travel to Belgium, as was announced by M HKA’s Director, Bart De Baere, at a press conference that took place in Athens (September 29, 2016). At the same time, De Baere pointed out that the city of Athens is the cradle of Europe, and Antwerp one of its many sprouts, as art commenced in Greece and Athens is the place where the very idea of museum began, Μουσείον, and, more importantly, the place where the notion of dialogue started, διάλογος. “It seems important today to remind ourselves of these fundamental basics, because we have in recent years been unable to show the respect that is key to them. Not only us in the North, but all of us together” he added.

Marina AbramovicJamesLeeByars Almagul Menlibayeva M HKAAt the same conference, EMST’s Director, Katerina Koskina, expressed her delight for the opening of the exhibition, underlining that it marks the inauguration of the Museum’s regular operation of the temporary exhibition spaces, as well as ofother spaces designated for special events and activities, such as educational and audiovisual programmes. “In the dilemma, anticipation or partial but regular operation, we preferred the latter” she stated.

Pending the State’s approval and staffing of the Museum through the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP), which will provide it with the prerequisites for claiming the donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the commencement of its full operation, EMST is in constant search for sponsorships and supporters of its activities.

Chryssa Yael Kanarek Nikos Kessanlis EMSTMore info: Visit EMST’s official website & The exhibition’s “Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp” microsite

Read also: Avant-Showtime for Greece’s National Museum of Contemporary Art

Watch videos: National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens, Opening, “Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp” (by Athens Art Walk) ; EMST- A Museum for Contemporary Art (Katerina Koskinas’ interview to ANA-MPA, June 2015)