It’s been a very busy year for contemporary art in Athens, with large exhibitions taking place in the city’s most important museums, and Documenta 14 filling Athens with new art for 100 days from April to July. Meanwhile, the city’s underground art scene has been busier than ever, with many independent art spaces and alternative exhibitions happening in the shadow of the more prestigious mega-events.
The fact that this scene has been widely unmapped and undiscovered led local editor and writer Kiriakos Spirou to publish und. Athens, a city guide that focuses on Athens’s alternative art scene and contemporary culture. Designed for visitors who are curious about new and experimental art, or are seeking an insider’s experience of the Greek capital, und. Athens is the first art guide of its kind in Greece, and offers the most comprehensive art directory of Athens to date
There were many challenges while researching and designing und. Athens, which mostly had to do with the lack of existing information and the fluid state of a culture that is in the margin and constantly in flux. As und. Athens’s founder Kiriakos Spirou explains: “It was easy to locate the mainstream and commercial galleries and museums, but in order to map all the alternative spaces I had to do a lot of research. This had to do mainly with the fact that some of the independent spaces are also self-funded, which means they don’t maintain a regular programme or a communications strategy. There was a lot of walking involved, and searching on Facebook in order to discover all of the underground art spaces in Athens.” Currently there are more than 50 independent and non-profit art and culture spaces in Athens, and there’s an additional 25 that were discovered after the map was printed and will be included in the 2018 edition. und. Athens also includes dozens of galleries, museums and open artist studios that are worth exploring in Athens, always with contemporary art as its main focus.
What makes und. Athens so innovative in the field of contemporary art communication and promotion is that it maps an uncharted segment of local culture, and then presents it in a well-designed and organised way so that it can reach a wider audience. und. Athens recommends curated art walks that can be followed by visitors at their own leisure and discover the alternative side of the city as well as experimental and emerging art. The map of und. Athens also includes suggestions of where to eat and drink, some local shops, transportation information and important landmarks that help visitors find their way around town. The design of the map was done by the studio of Greek editorial designer Natassa Pappa in close collaboration with the editor. “My aim was to provide visiting art professionals with a tool that would enable them to discover new and emerging art in the city,” says Kiriakos Spirou. “It was my way of giving the independent art scene legitimacy and exposure, and help independent artists and venues with an opportunity to be discovered by an international audience. This is why und. Athens also maintains an online journal, where we publish interviews with emerging or lesser-known artists, as well as stories from the alternative side of the city.”
und. Athens is currently available in bookshops and galleries in Athens, Mykonos, Limassol, Nicosia and Amsterdam, as well as online. For more information visit und-athens.com or follow und. Athens on Facebook and Instagram.
PHOTOS: Giorgos Vitsaropoulos