DOSSIER AICA HELLAS
You’ll see; this time it’ll be different (Artists in a dialogue with the Benaki Museum)
Curated by Polyna Kosmadaki
21 November 2013 – 19 January 2014 Benaki Museum (Pireos Street Annexe, Athens)
British Council, Benaki Museum
In a lecture given at the MAK symposium the discursive museum, literary historian László Földényi lucidly remarked: “Viewed from within, museums seem to have no borders; yet, viewed from outside, they rather resemble quarantine wards with strictly guarded borders”. British artist Adam Chodzko’s solo show “You’ll see; this time it’ll be different” underscores this idea by suggesting a borderless state of the already multi-faceted Benaki Museum.
The main piece of the exhibition, presented at the building’s ramp, is an installation of twenty posters of imaginary Benaki shows organized between 2068 and 2078. All but one, which takes place on a cargo ship and thus travels to several global ports, are scattered around Greece and occupy unusual locations such as bauxite mines, an abandoned disco, lighthouses, greenhouses, and a number of ruinous buildings and sites. Although these shows seem thematically coherent, their actual content is a mystery: neither the enigmatic titles (“Unpopularity”, “The Joy of Turbulence”, “Pleasure, Bread and Power”) nor the eclectic selection of visuals the artist drew from the Museum’s Archives for designing the posters (photographs depicting artifacts and activities related to Greece and its culture) allow us to delve deeper into these projects and experience them. Interestingly, the titles of these shows recall seminal new wave albums of the early 1980s, like OMD’s “Architecture and Morality” and New Order’s “Power, Corruption and Lies”.
Adopting the role of a curator, Chodzko envisions the Benaki Museum as having primarily an anthropological and critical role. Indeed, the museum is presented here as an archive of material culture, highlighting recontextualization and the otherness of its artifacts. But what is the true meaning of inventing a series of fictional exhibitions? No doubt, after attending this “retrospective” show one has different expectations from the Benaki Museum, which is acknowledged for its “social mission”. In all its absurdity and irrationality, Chodzko’s thoughtful proposal has the merit of making us reflect upon current exhibition-making, which, as his show suggests, ought to be constructed as a game.