Cu­ra­to­r­ial Res­i­dency in Stock­holm (CRIS) in­vites you for a drink and a 
con­ver­sa­tion with cu­ra­tors Marita Muukkonen, Jonatan Habib Engqvist and artist Georges Salameh, co­or­di­nated by sync’s sec­ond edi­tion Fel­low, Power Ekroth, at the Swedish Institute at Athens on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.

photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©


I’ve been working in the field of filmmaking and fine art photography for more than 20 years now, but my utmost aspiration is still poetry. So I always put my visual craftsmanship at the service of this unattainable goal!

I am from Lebanese and Greek descent.

I have lived in Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, France, Egypt and Sicily

My work is a distinctive exploration of the concept of sedimentation, both in the physical and metaphysical sense.

By “sedimentation”, I refer to the layers of time; just as living materials sediment at the bottom of the sea, so do archives, documents, reconstructions, gestures, journeys and a sense of listening. Those sedimentary layers take the viewer along a trail through comparisons of reality, languages and narrations.

All my works has been produced during long periods of time (When we say Time, we mean ourselves. Most abstractions are simply our pseudonyms. We are time.)

I wait for this minimum sedimentation to occur; however, what is visible to the viewer at the end is only the surface – the last layer.

I rarely begin any project with a preconceived idea. So I’d say that gesture and the need to search or question are at the center of my attempts to create.

My work form, out of collected notes of a candid botanist or an erratic geologist.

Those notes punctuate the melancholic geography of my wanderings.

My research starts and ends where my feet take me.

I came to realize that this approach takes shape through the practice of what I’d like to call Peripatetics.

“Peripatetic" is a word relating to the broader sense of walking about – wandering, roaming. The adjective derives from the Greek verb “peripatein” and refers to Aristotle’s school – Peripatos – founded after 335 BC at a public gymnasium outside the city walls. It was a place of systematic co-operative research in all branches of knowledge, named after the covered colonnades where much of the peripatetic learning took place.

For me peripatetics revolve also around an experiential, direct, non-conceptual form of creation.

I have spent most of my life wandering between Mediterranean shores, when I have to define myself, I become a storyteller without a story.

I started off at the beginning of my approach two decades ago, to embrace Athens not for what I wanted it to be, but for what it was and how it eluded me. This practice in time turned into a prelude to learning about justice, and it established itself as a first step in an act of resistance.

My projects are more of an intuitive response to emotionally resonant ideas, and they are more like a letter to a friend, words said or left unsaid, all floating down the stream of oblivion.

Because of my numerous migrations, I have always avoided putting a national label on myself or on my work.

I’d give legs and brain, curiosity and reasoning to Athens – that’s my apprenticeship.
Heart and kidney, love and refuge go to Sicily – that’s where my son is growing up.
Hands and ears, artisanship and sense of listening go to Lebanon – that’s where my origins are.
Tongue and eyes, language and gaze go to France – that’s where I got my education.
If there’s a common denominator, it’s probably the Mediterranean; the dark blue sea.
And if as an artist there is some kind of a general citizenship for me, it’s always being a foreigner.

Mine is a convoluted notion of nationality – but there’s an undocumented migrant in each one of us.


photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©

photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©

How does an out­sider per­ceive the art scene in Athens? The ques­tion has been raised many times to me dur­ing my stay. Nat­u­rally its im­pos­si­ble to make any as­sess­ments af­ter only just a few weeks, but when I ask the ques­tions in re­turn, the fol­low­ing points reap­pear:

First and fore­most there is an enor­mous thirst for in­ter­na­tional cul­tural ex­change. A few dom­i­nat­ing pri­vate foun­da­tions has shoul­dered some of the tasks that in other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries are ad­min­is­trated through the min­istry of cul­ture such as res­i­dency ex­change pro­grams, grants for artists and cen­tral­iz­ing the dif­fer­ent art and cul­ture cen­ters. Mean­while the Mu­seum for Con­tem­po­rary Art, EMST, is closed. Lastly, the many bril­liant artist-run spaces, non-for-profit spaces/​events and hap­pen­ings, which cre­ate ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing pro­grams, can­not be sus­tain­able in the long run. This trig­gers many more ques­tions about how to cre­ate a sus­tain­able and equal art world which is not only rel­e­vant lo­cally in Athens, but on a much more global scale. Some coun­tries have re­cently im­ple­mented for in­stance that art has to be “pa­tri­otic” in or­der to re­ceive state grants. Other coun­tries send out­spo­ken and crit­i­cal artists in jail. Mean­while the in­crease of pri­vate mu­se­ums (266 world­wide in 2018) is boom­ing, and has a tremen­dous im­pact in both the mar­ket and how art is pro­tected or un­pro­tected for re­searchers or “eter­nity.” The na­tion state and its phys­i­cal bor­ders with visa reg­u­la­tions – or lack of the same – and the pri­vate in­ter­ests shape the cul­tural work­er’s world in an in­creas­ing man­ner, on top of other au­thor­i­tar­ian struc­tures such as pa­tri­archy or racism.

photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©

What role would a na­tion state have ide­ally when it comes to cul­tural and artis­tic pro­duc­tion? What role has art in the po­lit­i­cal frame­work (democ­racy)? Cul­tural her­itage/​iden­tity may not share the same na­tional bor­ders of a coun­try, but is im­ple­mented as such – would it make sense to re­de­fine the ter­mi­nol­ogy of cul­tural iden­tity?
photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©

Is it of in­ter­est to shift the power re­la­tions be­tween the sec­tors of cul­tural pro­duc­tion lo­cally and glob­ally, like pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, pri­vate ac­tors and grass-root spaces, and if so, how?

And fi­nally, re­lated to this are of course ques­tions of im­ma­te­r­ial and cog­ni­tive la­bor – what role can it have when pop­ulist pol­i­tics are con­stantly work­ing to­wards the dis­man­tling of cul­tural bud­gets?

photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©

photo Alexandra Masmanidi ©