“Geometries” is a project organised and produced by Onassis Cultural Centre with the collaboration of the Agricultural University of Athens, curated by the independent contemporary arts organisation Locus Athens. It features a rich programme including workshops, talks, tours, performances, readings, film screenings and culinary events along with an original art exhibition held at the Agricultural University, designed by AREA – Architecture Research Athens, until June 15, 2018.
The aim of “Geometries” is to re-introduce city dwellers to the Agricultural University of Athens, inviting them to discover one of the country’s first academic institutions as a relevant and necessary oasis within the urban landscape. The arts exhibition showcases artwork and photographs, not just artistic but also archival material, providing the framework for a public programme dedicated to the environment: food, seeds, flowers and experiences are exchanged while academic knowledge, technological methodologies, eco-systems, agricultural practices are understood through the prism of contemporary art.
The exhibition unfolds in the Agricultural Museum, in the University’s central building and the vast gardens of the Agricultural University of Athens, virtually unknown to the public, which visitors are welcome to discover -the vineyard, the orchard, the botanical gardens- whilst becoming living participants in the University’s constantly evolving history from Ottoman times to this day. They also have the chance to learn about alternative farming practices, gain hands-on experience of building from earth, meditate on the history of stones, discover new ways of communing food, get an insight into the history of man’s own evolution set off by the agricultural revolution and attain a deep knowledge on climate change.
The programme is based on various thematic cycles:
The Seeds cycle features, among other events, free distribution of traditional seeds, the lecture “Local Varieties: From the Past to the Future”, a cooking workshop focusing on the use of seeds. Water includes “A Call to Kifissos, HydroLab Attica”, a parade-procession under the rhythms of a festive brass band, starting from the Agricultural University of Athens and leading all the way to the Kifissos (Cephissus) river, where a rowing competition by the students of the Agricultural University will take place; also the lecture “The Origins of Agriculture: An evolutionary and anthropological approach to the symbiotic adventures of man, animals and plants”.
The Earth cycle features a cob workshop based on building with natural materials and “The Sound of Silence”, a lecture about the thrills, beauty and geological evidence discovered by a Greek Assistant Professor at the Agricultural University who has just returned from NASA’s famed expedition to Antarctica in search of meteorites. In the Fire cycle, visitors can witness the performance “The Body as Landscape”, based on an eight-week improvisational workshop for students and professors using contemporary dance, mindfulness and meditation techniques while the Air cycle features the lecture “Sustainable Cities are Productive, Inclusive Cities”, addressing the subject of how cities like Athens can become more inclusive, livable and sustainable.
Cinema also forms an important part of the project: Ecodrome is a film programme spread out across five screening sessions which combine documentaries, artists’ films and feature-length films that deal with environmental issues and especially the themes addressed by the “Geometries” cycles: the use of seeds, water scarcity, global warming, air pollution, etc. The films are screened in the open-air “Cinema Zagara”, a set of mini-architectural structures that pay tribute to Jantar Mantar, an astronomic observatory located in New Delhi, India. Each cycle also features a number of culinary events: cooking workshops, feasts and food tastings, always within the spirit of sharing, valuing natural, local production and sustainable consumption.