The man from the future

Michelangelo Corsaro
Oct 26, 2013 2:40PM

"Recently it got better but a couple of years ago you wouldn't walk here, also taxi drivers would refuse to drive you through this street." And it's right in the center of Athens. It takes another fifty meters before arriving at the exhibition venue: the Pindaros Hotel, a run-down three-storey building, cracked-walls, dangling-light bulbs, with nice sophisticated old fixtures. As I enter the structure it's easy to imagine how the reception used to be, humble and tidy, with a smoking lady asking me the documents for the check-in. Instead I find the poster of the exhibition where I read the title: If sports is the brother of labor, then art is the cousin of unemployment (a quote by Thomas Kapielski). It is without doubt a hilarious title. I giggle reading it for a second time and say something like "This is the best title ever". "Yeah, they totally nailed it" someone replies behind me. The exhibition, co-curated by Panos Papadopoulos and Nino Stelzl, is the result of a Greek-Austrian partnership, possibly on an unemployment exchange. On the wall, in the ground-floor hall, there is a colorful painting by Johann Neumeister, a portrait of the DJ duo Amateurboyz. I climb the stairs and pass in front of two frames, by Selana & Krina Vronti, comparing unemployment figures of Greece and Austria (62,9% vs. 8.6%), and a painting by Panos Papadopoulos with the word "GENERATION" written in thick black paint on the face of a young woman. Follow in quick succession: a t-shirt by Schirin Charlot (Djafar-Zadeh) decorated with coloured plastic gems forming the words "TAKE ACID NOT CARE";  a video by Anna Jermolaewa with  bunch of white rats in a plastic box climbing on top of each other, searching obsessively for a way out; the handwritten sign "WORRY DON'T BE HAPPY", by Johann Neumeister; a French flag where Rade Petrasevic painted yellow letters saying "THIS PAINTING IS TITLED: I'VE NEVER BEEN TO ROME"; a second flag painted in the manner of the previous, this time with the Swiss white cross and the words "THIS PAINTING IS TITLED: POLITICS ARE FOR STUPID"; a photograph by Nino Stelzl, on the wall of one of the corridors, portrays a figure lying on the side of a street covered head to toe by a blanket. Under the blanket one can clearly recognize the shape of a big bottle, which the man wanted to keep close to himself even during sleep. Behind the corner, in a scarcely lit room, the words "THE RICH ALSO CRY" in colourful letters on a framed t-shirt by Marika Konstantinidou remind me of how wealthy people are traditionally very generous with the wealthier. The beauty of irony is that it can end all discussion.

Back in 1997 Corrado Guzzanti, a very known italian comedian, opened one of his shows with a sketch where he interpreted a man from the future who is arrested for illegal immigration into the past. "They come from the future to take all our jobs!" says the policeman when he catches him "Why don't you stay at your time, I wonder." "Because in the future there are no jobs! There is nothing left! There's nothing." is the reply of the man. When he is arrested with the threat to send him back at his own time, the man asks for political asylum, causing the perplexity of the policeman who doesn't have appropriate immigration papers for citizens from the future. "Country of origin?" he asks, immediately noticing that the correct question would rather be "Time of origin?"Back in 1997 Italy was rushing to get into the Euro, for the economy wasn't at its best performance and the country struggled to meet the requirements imposed by the Maastricht criteria. In that context, the gag referred to the feeling of permanent crisis often induced by those who hid decades of bad politics behind the excuse of a meager economic circumstances. More than fifteen years ago, a dystopic future with raging unemployment was the subject for a comical sketch. Was it a joke or some attempt of psychological preparation?

In the exhibition, everywhere I go I find some pieces of paper ripped off from a squared notebook. It is a work by Marcus Geiger who wrote the same thing on all of them: "NICHT ARBEIT"—german words in the heart of Greek people, obsessively repeated one room after another. Is unemployment also freely circulating inside the borders of the EU? How many languages does it speak already? And did we really gave up our possession, our work and families just to sit around all day long? A photograph by Krina Vronti, Looking Back, summarizes the mood of the exhibition: among our deepest fear, unemployment is already here, standing in front of us, with the t-shirts of a football player like Raul or Ronaldo, as if pretending to be some other divinity who just set foot on earth. What is surprising however is that despite the differences and the conflicts between the countries, Europe is still bound together by the familiarity with the scenario of unemployment.

If sports is the brother of labor, then art is the cousin of unemployment

Pindaros Hotel (24 Sofokleous street,  10552, Athens)

List of images: 1. The entrance of Pindaros Hotel / 2. Johann Neumeister, Amateur Boys, 2013, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm / 3.Selana & Krina Vronti, Untitled, 2013, c-print, 48 x 48 cm / 4. Panos Papadopoulos, Die Generation, 2011, acrylic, collage on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm / 5. Schirin Charlot (Djafar-Zadeh), ACID 2009, 2013, t-shirt, decorative crystals, dimensions variable / 6. Anna Jermolaewa, Der Weg nach oben, 2008, video, 1‘ loop / 7. Johann Neumeister, untitled (worry, don`t be happy!), 2013, oil on paper, 27 x 29,9 cm / 8. Rade Petrasevic, New York, 2012, acrylic on flag, 89 x 152 cm / 9. Rade Petrasevic, Athens, 2012, acrylic on flag, 89 x 152 cm / 10. Nino Stelzl, Doppler, 2008, photography, 90 x 60 cm / 11. Marika Konstantinidou, 1-0 Installation, 2013, installation, dimensions variable / 12. Marcus Geiger, Nicht Arbeit, 2013, pencil on paper, 21 x 15 cm / 13. Krina Vronti, looking back, 2006, photography, 56 x 79 cm / 14. Albert Mayr, Artist in Residence Program, 2013 / 15. Amalia Vekri, Kiss of the city, 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable / 16. Lakis & Aris Ionas (The Callas), East Beat, 2012, embroidery on canvas, 150 x 100 cm / 17. Paki Vlassopoulou, Never on sunday, 2013, pencil on paper, 90x 48 cm / 18. Chloe Potter, untitled #30 (from series pine tinsel), 2013, photography framed in wood, 60x80 cm / 19. Panos Papadopoulos, DJ Nothing, 2012, acrylic, collage on paper, 40 x 60 cm / 20. Kosmas Nikolaou, untitled, 2013, mixed Media, 22 x 30 cm / 21. Installation shot. Left: Elisabeth Penker, Split-Representation Ferdinand de Saussure, 2013, photocollage, spray paint. Right: Chrysanthi Koumianaki, on a political theology (1,2), 2013, iron print on textile, 310 x 100 cm / 22. Chrysanthi Koumianaki, on a political theology (1,2), 2013, iron print on textile, 310 x 100 cm / 23. Nino Stelzl, Fahne - A (work in progress), liquor on cotton, dimensions variable / 24. Katerina Kana, 3D (Divorced Depressed Detox), 2013, installation, dimensions variable / 25. Eleni Bagaki, MIRAKWLO, 2013, photocopies, green light, dimensions variable / 26. Ismini Adami, Punch Hard, 2013, c-print, 161 x 111 cm / 27. Installation shot. Left: Helmut Mark, TAKE-AWAY, 2008, photography, 50 x 50 cm. Middle: Johann Neumeister, 30.08.2013, 2013, xerox print and book, 30,5 x 35 cm. Right: Hélène van Duijne, It‘s a lot, 2013, spider mouth gag, baryte, rubber whip 90 x 13 x 5 cm / 28. Hélène van Duijne, It‘s a lot, 2013, spider mouth gag, baryte, rubber whip 90 x 13 x 5 cm

Photos by Ilias Tsepas

Michelangelo Corsaro
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