NEON activates a neoclassical residence at Kaplanon 11, Athens, by commissioning the new installation A Puppet Sun by Athens-based artist Kostis Velonis, curated by Vassilis Oikonomopoulos as part of CITY PROJECT 2017.
The artist conceived A Puppet Sun especially for the site of Kaplanon 11, responding to its history, architecture and position in the heart of the city. Narrated in such an extraordinary space, Velonis’ work addresses the site’s lived experience and memory, investigating the powerful historical, political and cultural intersections as well as personal narratives that are present. The neoclassical residence, constructed in 1981 is a unique architectural example and one of the last remaining buildings of its kind in Athens.
The residence itself offers an incomparable historical context, taking up an exceptional place in the social and political life of Greece throughout 20th century. The residence was first occupied by Pavlos Kountouriotis, an admiral who later became the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic. Subsequently it was utilised as literary salon and private residence of important personalities of the Greek 20th century history. During the crucial decades of 1910 and 1920 it housed the headquarters of the People’s Party “Laikon Komma”. During the same period, Eleni Zouzoula-Kanellopoulos, the first female author of children’s books in Greece, established a literary salon in the residence. This became a central meeting point for literary figures, poets, painters and intellectuals that defined with their work the culture of the time in Athens.
During the Metaxa regime just before World War II, the residence was converted into a boarding house for young female students, “O Oikos tis Foititrias”.
The development of A Puppet Sun reflects Velonis’ desire to bring the multiple narratives of the residence back into existence, and spark a dialogue between relationships, everyday life, privacy and politics. Exploring a symbiotic relationship with the site, Velonis embarks on a commission that encompasses a remarkable range of different media. He reveals the contradictions and coexistence of psychological aesthetics and ideological narratives, by combining the comic with the tragic, as well as social, political and religious elements and influences that are central features to both the history of the residence, as well as his work.
Curator | Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, Assistant Curator, Collections International Art, Tate Modern
CITY PROJECT is an initiative for public art and the city, conceived and commissioned annually by NEON. NEON aims to activate public and historical places through contemporary art, contributing to the interaction of art, society and the city. This new commission by NEON is the largest-scale solo presentation of Velonis’ work to date.
Opening | October 11, 2017 | 19:00
Image Credit | NEON City Project 2017 | Kostis Velonis, Acid Rain, 2017, Installation View © PanosKokkinias | Courtesy NEON & Kalfayan Galleries