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Sound mixes with art to reinvigorate the centre of Athens


le mag

Sound mixes with art to reinvigorate the centre of Athens

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‘Silent Space Stand Still’ has brought a combination of sound and art to the centre of Athens.

The organisers took over a former mosque in the Greek capital, now the home of the museum of Greek Folk Art.

Since the end of March, four artists have each opened their week-long residence with a live presentation.

It is dialogue of sound resonating through the site and its history, connecting those inside with the fabric of the building.

“We got in touch with the Greek Ministry of Culture,and found this wonderful mosque in the centre of Athens. No one really knows it is here. But it was built to reflect sound and that is what our exhibition is all about,” said Sofia Tournikioti, one of the exhibition’s curators.

Tarek Atoui is an electro-acoustic musician, sound artist and computer programmer. Perched above one of the busiest squares in Athens, he listens, reacts, improvises and performs with his environment in real-time, creating a synergy between the instrument, the sound produced and the physical context.

At the core of his work is an ongoing reflection on the notion of the instrument, and on the act of performance as a complex, open and dynamic process.

“You are going to see a performance of electro-acoustic and electronic music, that is pretty much dealing with the notion of instrument,” he says. “Tonight, here in Athens, it is a new version of this instrument with an altogether different aesthetic of electronic sounds and recorded sounds and samples. We are trying to make sense of them.”

This is the first time that a sound installation has been housed in a mosque in Athens. Eleni Papathoma, the curator of the Museum of Greek Folk Art itself, says it has been given a new lease of life: “The building had only a short life as a mosque. It has been the Museum of Greek Folk Art since 1918. We think it is excellent for museums to interact with art and the audience, to open up their surroundings to music and sound once again, because this one was built for that.”

Turk Cevdet Erek’s new work ‘Same to Different’ is an exploration of the links that bind all things. Instead of being an architectural symbol of power or control, the mosque’s dome is transformed into a simple covering, embracing and encompassing everything underneath.

Cevdet uses a panoply of everyday objects connected with the history of the mosque, but also from the collection of modern Greek ceramics housed inside.

His performance was a combination of a lecture, sounds, personal memories and objects that create sounds: “It is mostly an improvisation. We have been working on creating some materials for this improvisation. Both physical in relation with the dome and the older years that it was a tzami (mosque in Turkish). But also the Folk Art Museum is based here. I have been trying to build up some both physical material objects, some themes for sounds and rhythms.”

Whistles, which in sound and form resemble small birds, create a swirl of sound in the echoing space. The whistles forge a new relationship with the architectural environment, re-activating a museum space exhibiting objects devoid of their original functions.

“It is an exhibition which is organised by a private institution and non-profit Locus Athens. And simultaneously it is funded again by private funding. So it is a very important move of two different sections (public – the Museum and the private sector Locus Athens) of Greek society, working together to create something innovative, opening a public space to a different section of people.” said Maria Thalia Carras, the curator of ‘Silent Space Stand Still’.

Each artist’s work was on show for one week. The project ‘Silent Space Stand Still’ was on in Athens, until April 27th.

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