Being described by fascist tabloids as “the cancer in the soul of our homeland”, this exhibition was FYTA’s most broadly hated showcase, attracting hundreds of comments by alt-right trolls and patriots and landing on the front pages of right-wing papers.
In the celebrations for the two hundred years since 1821, nationalist trash reached unprecedented levels. In the midst of a pandemic, where class differences really stood out and brutal policing violated every human right in a democratic society, the Homeland-Religion-Family mythology was underlined again and again. The creative response to this hideous situation was extremely sparse, with most artists trying instead to take advantage of the money that was given to art to praise greece’s glorious history.
200 Years of Suffocation, the largest anti-1821 exhibition of the year, was made by subjects and talked about subjects who suffocate within the framework of greek orthodox patriotism and use creative means to express their dissatisfaction with a mythology that does not include them, does not express them, does not concern them.
On the cusp of the US presidential election and deepening political uncertainty around the world, FYTA co-curated an interdisciplinary digital conference that brought together critical, artistic and psychoanalytic interventions to bear on the question of politics and public discourse in the midst of the apparent collapse of trust in scientific and authoritative knowledge. The event was hosted by the Freud Museum in London.
The event suffered an interesting and almost unbelievable case of censorship: after the first day of the conference, Facebook blocked all the accounts related to the conference, including that of the Freud Museum. In hindsight the event has anticipated the culmination of post-truth politics that led to the Capitol riots on January 6.
The event was co-organised by Jordan Osserman in partnership with the Ministry of Post-Truth and Waiting Times.
You can watch all of the lectures of the event on YouTube.
Athens Festival of Queer Performance aimed at presenting different strands of the booming local scene of queer performance, as well as establishing a dialogue with an international array of performers, artists and academics working on live and media performance art. Besides FYTA, the event was co-organised by a group of queers (artists, curators and theoreticians) who were connected to other queer events and creative platforms in Athens such as the Sound Acts festival, Glam Slam, Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research and Queer Ink, as well as local queer feminist movements.
AFoQP included performances, happenings, academic presentations, workshops and screenings focusing on the hybrid dimensions of the notion of queer. We were interested in presentations embodying personal stories and common narratives, multiple truths, hysteria, failure, ridiculousness, togetherness, anti-essentialism as well as intersectionality, pop, political action, DIY, collage, humour and trauma.
Photos by Alexandros Katsis
For the second edition of asfaBBQ (the Athens School of Fine Arts yearly performance festival) that FYTA edited, instead of a centrally curated programme, it was decided that it would consist of separate mini curations, each on a different topic and by a different organisation/group of our choice. The list of groups included FAC Research, Athens Festival of Queer Performance, FYTINI, Sub Rosa Space, Queer Ink, ΣKPA-punk, MEME (communities), The text of appearances and Faster than Light.
The curatorial team invited the different collectives, initiatives and informal groups to reflect on ideas of togetherness when it comes to political/social ideals and artistic practice. The initial call stated that “the artist as an individual (often male, white, cis, abled) has been the main focus of art history for some time; it is now scenes, movements, art spaces, waves, unexpected collaborations and all sorts of communities that allow for conflict and difference that gain ground, much like in previous politically treacherous times (the 1960s, the 1920s etc). AsfaBBQ is interested in giving space to some of these (largely DIY) scenes that have appeared in the Athenian landscape in the last five years and especially since the arrival of documenta14.”
Photos by Alexandros Katsis and Vassilis Vlastaras
In collaboration with the publishing initiative Queer Ink and Mochi Georgiou, in 2019, FYTA organised an international poetry conference. The titular question invited the participants to reflect on the history, contemporary meaning and political significance of queer writing and queerness more broadly. The event took place in central Athens and during its two days more than 50 participants gave theoretical presentations, participated in discussions, and presented their work at a big poetry slam. Some of the topics of the event were: autobiography as a research method, the politics of poetry and the poetics of political action, post-coloniality and intersectionality in writing, interdisciplinarity / intermediality in poetry (mixed media, performance art, interactivity), embodiment in text, historical queer avant-gardes and their contemporary resonance, and more.
Organised under the umbrella of ASFA BBQ, the Athens School of Fine Arts yearly performance festival, the Garden of Dystopian Pleasures was a showcase of performance, talks, workshops, screenings etc on notions of post-truth cultures and the return of reactionary propaganda. “Can we rethink identity politics?”, “can we repackage hope as sexy?”, “can we assist fake-news trolls to their self-destruction?” were some of the questions the festival raised. 40+ artists, performers, academics, including Ed Fornieles, Bae Sharam, OPA, Yannis Stavrakakis and many more joined the festival offering their version of a dystopian present and a very much questionable future.
In 2021 FYTA wrote an article reflecting on the experience of curating this event, alongside participating artists Pedro de Senna Richard Pfützenreuter that was published at the “Studies in Theatre and Performance” journal. You can read the full article on tandfonline.com.
Glam Slam, organised by a group of queer artists including FYTA, was an athens-based open-form performance art platform for the presentation of works that do not fit into the narrow frame of a ‘theatrical performance’, but still happen live in front of an audience. It took place once every two or three months and its curatorial and production team varied and fluctuated. Glam Slam! examined the boundaries and dialogue between different types of performance, types that often belong to different disciplines: devised theatre, experimental dance & body art, musical-theatre performance, drag show, conceptual art and performance art, cabaret / burlesque, slam-poetry & hip-hop, interactive happening etc. But above all, Glam Slam! supported projects that had an exploratory and experimental nature, while at the same time leaning towards fun/queer stuff rather than over-serious and existential ones. Four Glam Slam! showcases have taken place in 2018 before the project completed its course.
Photos by Art Taf
5 years of FYTA was a large scale installation and series of events curated by Vassilis Zidianakis and commissioned by Atopos CVC. The event took place under the umbrella of “Occupy Atopos”, a project in which chosen artists live in and create at the Atopos residence. FYTA took over the whole building, putting together a playground, which was also a sort of museum of works created in their first five years. Alongside the exhibition/installation, there were talks, presentations and performances.
Sound Acts was a 3-year research project and annual get-together, a showcase of creative couplings between performance art/gesture, sound/music and gender/body/identity. It was the first large-scale queer performance festival in Athens. The work of eighty artists, performers and academics was presented in the three instalments of the festival. The project’s purpose was twofold: on the one hand it was an opportunity to establish connections between Greek practitioners/theoreticians and the international community and on the other a chance to bring the athenian audience in contact with work that is generally left outside of local sound art and music showcases.
Some of the points of reference for Sound Acts were: theatricality in musical happenings, the idea of post-performance, cyborgs and the relation between technology and the body, drag shows and cabaret, music that can not be categorised and may consist of contradictory sub-parts, self-referentiality, anti-art and conceptualism, feminist art and body art, synaesthesia and the boundaries between senses, the relationship of spoken word and music, race and sound art, the idea of messthetics and the DIY ethos of dada and fluxus.
Sound acts was initiated by FYTA, Alex Demetriou and Elena Poughia. More info on the festival and all participating artists can be found at the sound acts archive.
Fytini* was FYTA’s largest and most open-form collaborative project, an attempt to solve all the problems of the stale greek music scene once and for all, a queerification of greek alternative music. Part web-portal and part net-label, Fytini aimed at releasing/promoting works that are at once performative, queer-leaning, deconstructive, post-trash. The project closed the cycle of its operation in 2019 after releasing 38 albums and hosting 70+ different artists.
Some of the interests of the label were: DIY-ness, self-production, anti-professionalism, messthetics, post-punk, non-seriousness, collage-isms, performance art, queer politics, post-feminism[s], the [anti]spectacle, familial creative structures, found sound, cover versions, spoken word, cross-genre pollination etc. All Fytini music was released free online. Members of the Fytini family curated the yearly sound, gender and identity festival sound acts in Athens. Central in the operation of Fytini besides FYTA has been Alex Tsoli (aka Metatheodosia) and Louisa Doloksa.
*Fytini is actually the name of a 1980s greek ‘healthy’ vegetable fat.
Ficus Golden Jubilee (aka ΦΥΤΑ Βianella) was an attempt to create a hybrid space, where FYTA presented different sides of their work, together with projects by chosen creatives with whom they are in a dialectic discourse / creative dialogue. The aim was the putting-together of a lively space, in which the borders between artistic media and roles, both in setting-up, as well as in participation to the creative act are blurred. Thus, FYTA’s role was to continuously mutate from artists to subject matter, from curators to performers, from those who encourage to those that criticise in the most venomous way.
The main participatory part of the whole in-progress happening lasted 8 days, each based on different largely biblical thematics. The overall purpose was the deconstruction of specific grand narratives around greek reality: trash culture, language, tradition and neo-folk, conspiracies etc. At the same time, ‘participatory art’ was a subject matter in itself. FYTA’s strategy was purposefully contradictory: on the one hand they were interested in demolishing the idea of the artist as a magical, gifted persona and on the other in ridiculing notions of interactivity and direct democracy. Thus while they shared their creative methodology with many participants and provided an open platform, at the same time they almost demanded participation and directed the happenings in an authoritarian fashion.
More info about the exhibition and all participating artists can be found on the FYTA Bianella site.
Curated in the summer of 2012 in Panke, Berlin. As greek society reached one of its nadir moments in recent history, this showcase presents a series of neo-absurdist artists from athens, investigating the city’s recent DIY scenes and scouting for creatives who negate the canonical contemporary narratives, as much as the heavy-handed pseudo-profound-ness of the mainstream art scene, building their own self-defined worlds of play. Τhis was the first ever curation of FYTA!