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[UPDATE with video] ARCAthens presents: Contemporary Agora: Athens as Cultural Microcosm at the Acropolis Museum


On March 28th, as our Spring 2019 Pilot Program was approaching its conclusion, a 90-minute event was held in Athens to share with the public what had transpired during this six-week residency. ARCAthens Fellows Cullen Washington Jr and Larry Ossei-Mensah each delivered presentations, after which they engaged in a panel conversation together with Daphne Vitali, Dan Cameron, and Aristides Logothetis. 

The video above contains key highlights of the event. A full-length version is available here, and a full transcript can be downloaded here

Gearing up before the doors open. From left: Larry Ossei-Mensah, Cullen Washington Jr, Melissa Franklin, Aristides Logothetis, and Dan Cameron
Opening introductions by Executive Director Aristides Logothetis

On a brisk Thursday evening, around 90 people were gathered in the amphitheater of the Acropolis Museum as Executive Director Aristides Logothetis started off by welcoming everyone and thanking all the people that had made the program possible—appreciating the collective sense of philoxenia in welcoming the Fellows into the folds of Athens. Regarding the mission of the program, Aristides stated:

“I too share the vision of many people here in Athens, as well as in the diaspora, that Greece and Athens ought to be a global center for creation, scholarship, and academia. And ARCAthens aims to provide a positive contribution to an already energized city. The creation and sharing of ideas is what defines humanity.”
Cullen Washington Jr, "...to paint is to hope with intense desire."
In his presentation, Visual Art Fellow Cullen Washington Jr shared about how his reflection on humanity evolved over the course of his work from self-identification to symbolism to abstraction, towards a point where he started examining the agora—the nexus of humanity—and its representation through the grid, about which he said:
“The hope of mankind, for me, is the grid…the inter-connective tissue and unconditional exchange of humanity…a metaphor for individual parts acting in harmonious, connected flux.”

Talking about his time in Athens, Cullen described how he was drawn to literal grids that he found in the architecture, leading him to create a series of collagraphs that echoed the mental images he’d gathered during his residency.

Larry Ossei-Mensah, "A lot of my practice is really following my intuition and my curiosity."
Curatorial Fellow Larry Ossei-Mensah opened his presentation with some insight about the fundamentals of his role:
“One thing that I’ve realized—having the opportunity to travel and spend time in spaces—is how [to] focus on listening, learning, being a good neighbor… and then hopefully being able to offer something that the community can then think about…and work together towards being more solution-oriented…to move things forward together.”

Sustainability is often brought up, and for Larry, it means tapping both conventional and unconventional resources to cultivate the art ecosystem. About his experience in Athens, Larry shared the observation of how Greeks operate between the polarity of “unwritten rules” on some things and “firm rules” on others. So his question is, “How do we use that opportunity as a community?”

The panel conversation: (from left) Dan Cameron, Cullen Washington Jr, Daphne Vitali, Larry Ossei-Mensah, Aristides Logothetis
Cullen to Daphne: "One thing that I've learned since I've been here is... Greeks like to hang."
Larry: "Things that are on the margin, are actually...the most interesting... that end up shaping culture. Those are the things that end up moving societies forward."
Dan asking Cullen about the "future of abstraction"
Aristides wrapping it up, dropping hints on the next steps for ARCAthens
Some lively after-show hovering at the end

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