The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) took the initiative to present in Greece the national participation at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (13 May – 26 November, 2017), with the video installation of George Drivas titled Laboratory of Dilemmas, curated by Orestis Andreadakis. The specific work was selected in June 2016 by an advisory committee, appointed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, among a total of 30 proposals.
Laboratory of Dilemmas drew in the Greek Pavilion more than 450,000 visitors, and received excellent reviews from the international press. It is an imposing video installation which deals with contemporary socio-political issues and offers a peripatetic audiovisual experience, while also presenting the visitor with thoughts and dilemmas of moral content. Laboratory of Dilemmas based on Aeschylus’ theatre play Iketides (Suppliant Women), poses a dilemma between saving the Foreigner and maintaining the safety of the Native. Addressing current global sociopolitical issues, the work deals with the anguish, puzzlement, and confusion of individuals and social groups when called upon to address similar dilemmas.
Aeschylus’ Iketides (Suppliant Women, 464-463 b.c), the only surviving part of Aeschylus’ lost tetralogy Danaides, is the first literary text in history that raises the issue of a persecuted group of people seeking for asylum. The Suppliants have left Egypt to avoid having to marry their first cousins and arrive at Argos seeking asylum from the King of the city. The King is then faced with a dilemma. If he helps the foreign women, he risks causing turmoil among his people and going to war with the Egyptians, who are after the Suppliants. But if he doesn’t help them, he will break the sacred laws of Hospitality and violate the principles of Law and Humanism, leaving the Suppliants to the mercy of their pursuers.
Laboratory of Dilemmas focuses on the play’s dilemma through the excerpts of an unfinished documentary in the form of found footage about a scientific experiment. This experiment was never completed for unknown reasons, however the found excerpts of the unfinished documentary reveal today, after so many years, details of the experiment, as well as the hopes of the professor who envisioned it and the disagreements with his co-researchers.
The story is presented piecemeal through multiple video and sound sources inside a labyrinth. In the videos of Laboratory of Dilemmasthe acclaimed actress Charlotte Rampling and Yorgos Kotanidis have a leading role, along with other well-known Greek actors such as Lazaros Georgakopoulos, Kora Karvouni, Polydoros Vogiatzis, Rena Kyprioti, Panis Kalofolias.
The national participation is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. It wouldn’t have been realized though without the generous support of our sponsors, and more specifically of the Grand Sponsor Onassis Foundation both in Venice and Greece, the Principal Partners for the artwork Efa Ventures and Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative, and the Supporters NEON Organization for Culture and Development, Aegean Airlines, Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), Agricultural University of Athens, St. George Lycabettus Hotel and Absolut and the Communications Sponsors ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation), Athens Voice, gr design, and City Code.
International Press Highlights
Greece, does not waste time, and creates in its pavilion a masterpiece that is worth the ticket of the whole Biennale.
La Grecia, non perde tempo, e crea nel suo padiglione un capolavoro che vale da solo il biglietto di tutta Biennale.
Filippomaria Pontani, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Italy
Drivas wants visitors to slow down and let the allegorical meaning of the experiment sink in. Anyone who rushes through his installation will miss Charlotte Rampling’s cameo, and possibly even catharsis.
Colleen Barry, Associated Press, USA
…pavilions not to be missed, such as George Drivas’ Laboratory of Dilemmas for Greece
Ludovico Pratesi, Artribune, Italy
The pavilion of Greece is undoubtedly and among all, the most useful, elegant, powerful and complex thing to see throughout the Biennale.
Gaia Serena Simionati, Arskey Magazine, Italy
The parallels that can be made from this piece are socially and politically complex and current.
Shaun Badham, A-N The Artists Information Company, UK
The pavilion of Greece transplanted politics into a “meta-level”.
Michael Huber, Kurier, Austria
For more information:
Funded by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), Director: Katerina Koskina
Curator: Orestis Andreadakis
Contributors for the realization of the artwork
Producers: Fenia Cossovitsa, Elias Ledakis, George Drivas
Production Designer: Ilias Ledakis
Director of Photography: Claudio Bolivar G.S.C.
Editor: Christos Gakis
Costume Designer: Eva Nathena
Sound Engineer: Yannis Antipas
Sound Design-Mixing: George Ramantanis DNA Lab, Leandros Dounis
Aditional Casting: Stavros Raptis
Key Make-up Artist: Yiannis Pamoukis
Key Hairstylist: Chronis Tzimos
Installation Constructor: Stelios Labadarios
Production Manager: Tania Xigou
Artwork’s Scientific Supervision: Anna Agapaki
Artwork’s Legal Advisor: Zoi Mavroskoti
Installation Supervision: Eirini Sapka
Actors: Charlotte Rampling, Yorgos Kotanidis, Lazaros Georgakopoulos, Kora Karvouni, Polydoros Vogiatzis, Rena Kyprioti, Panis Kalofolias
EMST Contributors in Venice and Athens
Coordination of the Εxhibition in Venice: Daphne Vitali, Elisabeth Ioannides
Architectural Supervision in Athens: Iro Nikolakea
Financial coordination: Christos Prantalos
Press and Communication: Kassiani Benou, Despoina Barabouti
Secretariat: Despoina Konstantinidou
Technical support in Athens: Technical department of EMST
Ministry of Culture and Sports
Tina Pischitzi: Head of the Directorate of Performing Arts and Cinema
Eleni Toumpanaki: Head of Cinema Department
Production: EMST, BLONDE Αudiovisual Productions, SKEPTIK Productions
Sponsors of the national participation