Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Type: Thesis
Title: Art and Crisis on the Streets of Athens
Author: Karanicolas, Johnny Damien
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis is an examination of the complex composition of the subversive counter-institutional art scene which has developed in Athens, Greece throughout a time of crisis. With the emergence of the economic crisis in 2009 and the intensification of the refugee crisis between 2015 and 2016, images of suffering, anarchy, indignation and violence have become synonymous with Athens. Developing in parallel with this has been a cultural revolution led by the city’s fast changing arts sector. The thriving art scene has attracted the attention of the international art world leading some to proclaim Athens as ‘the new Berlin’. I explore the extent to which times of crisis can be culturally productive by analysing the distinctive spatial, temporal and socio-political conditions that have facilitated the vibrant art scene. This analysis is used to frame the fierce resistance and enduring suspicion directed towards the arrival of major international art institutions within wider perceptions of exploitation and domination at the hands of hegemonic Global Powers. Qualitative data for this project was collected during a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Athens between July 2015 to July 2016, with two short follow-up visits in July 2017 and February 2019. Research included participant observation and interviews with a range of street artists, performance artists, curators and gallery owners. Throughout the crisis, funding and resources available to the arts have become scarce. In response to these limitations, artists have experimented with alternative and novel ways to produce and present their work. One of the most significant developments has been the move from traditional gallery spaces and art institutions to the more democratic, collaborative and often-chaotic city streets. Key urban spaces in Athens have historically been the sites of occupations, executions, revolutions and political violence which invests them with powerful communicative and political potentialities. Through artistic means, the symbolic content inherent in these spaces is evoked by artists to make sense of, and resist the current crisis. The interconnectedness of urban space, history, symbols, art objects, artists and the public is shown to be central to the development of the unique and meaningful counter-institutional art scene. By expanding on Gell’s (1998) analysis of the social context of art, I explore the way the socio-political, spatial and temporal context of art in Athens actively influences its form, meaning and function. At the same time the creativity and agency of artists is highlighted through their capacity to actively manipulate and engage with their urban and socio-political environment. Ultimately, through the voices of those involved, this thesis portrays the complexity and dynamism of a radical, experimental and heterogeneous art scene during a time of crisis.
Advisor: Skuse, Andrew
Rodger, Dianne
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2019
Keywords: Greek crisis
Anthropology of art
street art
urban anthropology
art institutions
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Karanicolas2019_PhD.pdf11.1 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.