Could you tell me about the art show you are curating in the context of Ruins, ‘Thank You for Believing in Me’?
So, Thank You for Believing in Me is a continuation of the concept of Ruins in the format of an art exhibition. All of the works we have commissioned are video-based and they are quite disparate in terms of aesthetic and technique, but they all have in common the fact that they are directly political. Guillermo (the co-curator) and I asked artists, musicians and designers to work with video and urged them to experiment, even though they might have never made such work before. The show is on in Mexico City in parallel with the Material Art Fair, one of Latin America’s biggest art fairs, and I think the location is of high symbolic relevance right now, in the era of walls and the mainstream demonisation of all non-white races. The brief for all the participating artists was to reflect on the present political moment and inject it into their work, be it Trump or Brexit or debt—the end of the world as we once knew it.
Who is participating in the show?
There is a total of 17 artists exhibiting work. Some of the films I am excited about are by Eva Giannakopoulou, who has filmed herself by a beach in Greece and at a pro-Greece protest in Berlin in which Germans were marching, as well as a piece created by Debora Delmar Corp. who recently participated in the latest edition of the Berlin Biennale. DeSe Escobar also has a piece entitled Salamat Glam, which reflects on the aftermath of the recent US presidential election in New York, and the ensuing protests.
“WHEN YOU OBSERVE THINGS FROM A DISTANCE, AS MOST PEOPLE IN LONDON DO, IT’S HARD TO BECOME INVOLVED, ESPECIALLY SINCE NO ONE WANTS YOU TO BECOME INVOLVED. YOU ARE NOT MEANT TO REFLECT AND ANALYSE ANYTHING, YOU ARE ONLY MEANT TO SCROLL THROUGH VARIOUS FEEDS AND OCCASIONALLY DOUBLE-TAP.”
How did you decide what sort of narrative you wanted the first issue of Ruins magazine to have when it was published early last year?
This first issue was based around themes of austerity, debt, recession, euphoria, crisis, Greece, and so on. I think the theme came together naturally, because that’s what I was interested in at the time. To be more specific: I wasn’t simply looking at these events in the news cycle, I was shaken first-hand and shocked by them each time I visited my family in Greece. When you observe things from a distance, as most people in London do, it’s hard to become involved, especially since no one wants you to become involved. You are not meant to reflect and analyse anything, you are only meant to scroll through various feeds and occasionally double-tap. Identity these days is so contrived and strategized that it really makes me yawn. People don’t understand that when you live in a place like Greece, which is so heavily affected by the wrongdoings of international capitalists, life is singularly different and weird. You could really see things change as a consequence of extreme austerity and cuts, everyone is depressed because what lies ahead is a future without prospects. Things are changing here in London too, but in a more covert way, I think.
Greece is the epicentre of this recessional era, but it is important for people to understand that what happened in Greece will soon happen in their countries too. I feel like it is the one place where all the instabilities of our global capitalism system were revealed, exposed, and of course it affects people on a personal level. It is not a joke. I don’t think, for example, that hosting the next installment of the Documenta art fair in Athens and calling it ‘Learning from Athens’ is sensible. It is SO condescending to the general Greek population! There is nothing to learn from Athens or from exploiting people’s misery – if you want to learn, you should go there and learn without needing an international art fair to show you the way. Enough with the neo-colonial exploitation of the Greek crisis. A big chunk of Greek people don’t have money at all, or jobs, or access to healthcare or education, while most of Greece’s beaches are in the process of getting privatised and sold off to foreign investors to pay back the Greek debt, although everyone knows the debt is impossible to pay back.
What was the SHOWstudio video you launched the first issue of Ruins with about?
It was a collage of videos shot on my phone, about the urgency that defines our time. I just hope our anti-neoliberal discourses circulate widely and inspire more magazines and artists to do the same, i.e. critique the system from which they emerge. I needed a way to state that it cannot be business-as-usual for fashion or art or whatever when nothing is currently in place, when so many people are displaced, or when police murders are at a record high, when people’s livelihood is so intensely attacked.