THE CITY OF ATHENS
RICH CULTURAL CONTEXT
Athens is a city of rich history and cultural heritage. Monuments such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Erechtheum, the Pnyx, the Ancient Agora, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Panathenaic Stadium and many more form a unique time travel experience to its visitors.
Blessed with bright light and sunny days to enjoy long walks in the city center while trying out a wide variety of famous Greek plates. The Athenian city scape has a strong urban outdoor life, nightlife and most importantly; it’s close to the famous Greek islands!
Architecture-wise, it combines the old & modern in a unique manner; we see a mixture of styles overall lacking of a structured city plan, from neoclassical buildings and specimens of vernacular architecture, to the local adaptation of the International modernist Style and interpretations of contemporary trends. What stands out the most in Athens are the block of flats known as ‘Polykatikia’.
After 2004 where Athens was the city of the Olympic Games, a dramatic makeover for the city took place with a new transportation system and sports venues, a new pedestrian bridge by Calatrava, the construction of the new international airport ‘El. Venizelos’ and the Acropolis Museum by Bernard Tschumi Architects.
In 2009 Athens underwent the so-called financial ‘crisis’ that left a traceable mark at the aesthetics of the city, a beauty of decay which is still visible today. During the crisis, the Greek economy went through intense neoliberalisation, which at the present moment becomes aparent in the global investment of status structures by global prestige architects including Renzo Piano, Foster and partners.
This crisis-ridden cityscape constitutes an extremely dynamic cultural field: it is the cradle of numerous alternative bottom-up cultural practices, whilst it also hosts large international institutions such as the ‘Stavros Niarchos’ and the ‘Onassis’ Foundation. The curators of large institutions worldwide view Athens as the embodiment of the economic, political, social, and cultural dilemmas that Europe faces more broadly.
‘Performance Architecture Summer School’ chose to be situated in this dense and exciting cultural ground of Athens enquiring on the relationship between cultural practices and resilience, imagining the city as an endless scene, challenging the body to respond to its sites in a land where the roots of performance are traced and drama was originated.
Participants’ challenge is to explore the blurred borders between performance and everyday life within Athenian’s urban complexity.