Route 49 / Centenarian Trunks
Route 49 was a group open space exhibition that took place in the center of Athens. Forty-nine artists acted in the city by choosing eachone a place where to instal her/his work. Those 49 spots defined a route in which art related to everyday life.
The artwork Centenarian Trunks consists of an enlargement of a drawing made by China Ink on paper, initial dimensions 0,70 m. x 1,00m. The final work had dimensions 5,00m x 7,00m. and was installed on the building of the Fix Factory, where the National Museum of Modern Art is now located.
The work is inspired by the quote of G. Theotokas quote The man who bears the heavy privilege to carry on his shoulders the memory of the world, standing aside, reflects over the game of destiny.
Fix Factory is a building that is located next to the busy Kallirrois avenue. The artwork was installed at a very high level, far above a lot of commercial and political advertisements and it comments on the speed of contemporary life and the lack of reflection. Next to this avenue, the artwork seeks the gaze of a passenger who will spare some time to look further up everyday's needs and reflect.
Introduction from the R49 catalogue
After Mr. S’s decision to call for V’s, S’s and L’s apartment on Zaimi street, 54, for his own personal use, until then the apartment had been their workshop – an anxiety was caused. What would happen during the time that was left until the delivery over of the place to its owner?
Though a number of discussions and suggestions that had been laid on the table concerning an heroic exit from their hideout, the idea for a joint exhibition – activity won the bet. Discussions started again about the realization of this particular proposal, as many artists as possible were informed, the date of the opening of the joint rotative exhibition was set, those who had responded composed smaller groups which would present their work every week, a press release was written and sent, invitations were printed, skirts and shirts were ironed, and the attempt called “An account of an eviction – Zaimi street, 54” that had been on foot, was brought to completion after a month and a half. Few days after the closing of this attempt in Zaimi street, in which 50 artists had taken an active part, we realized the sensation that was created to the people who had attended and heard of this event, people who belonged to the broader area of art and shared a willingness for creative action. Thus, a feeling surged up within us, that something so spontaneous and open to participation and organizing should be kept on.
Not as a repetition of a succeful recipe, but as a chance to further discussions about the possibilities of our interventions as a team, as well as our limitations as individuals, as a chance eventually, to receive constructive criticism and to express our views on various issues at the same time, so as to abandon the indoor place of the workshop and discover the reason which would lead us to deal with ideas and everything else that surrounds us according not only to our position but also to any connections may exist. Around the spring of 1998, the first ideas were presented. An excursion and overnight meeting in Athens, as a way to experience an urban mechanism in a different manner, the functions of which are so stereotypically solidified in the mind and sense of each one of us. Our desire with this activity was to give to all participants the chance to gather material, different for each one of them – concerning painting, sound, photography, video etc.- elaboration of which would present us with a new conception of this city. After a month of meditation and individual or joint work, the presentation of the material gathered would take place especially formed with an interior purpose to organize an exhibition with our proposals.
[…] In this way, after a lot of talks and conversations upon similar speculations about the space and time of the city, the need for a more frequent contact with each other led us to settle on a place for our meetings, loosely and spontaneously on the beginning, consciously and regularly on a weekly base in the end.
The place was a café called “Rue Verte” at the corner of Zaimi and Tositsa streets, where we used to meet every Tuesday night. In these meetings – which have been taking place continuously and without any breaks – many ideas were suggested and percolated, ways to bridge the opposing views were found, a constructive criticism, as well as strong dissents and disagreements between the participants were preserved, enriching with all possible ways the inner potential of each one of us. In addition, from Tuesday to Tuesday the need to materialize as many ideas as possible, which had been presented and discussed in our meetings until then, became more intense, we even could characterize this need commanding. Finally the necessary time and place was given in order our plans to be put in practice.
Thus, we are rushing at the present a router within the city, Route 49, with the number implying the number of the participants. The route begins on Saturday the 22nd of May and ends on Saturday the 6th of June. This is going to be a beginning of a series of works, activities and comments which will bear the experience of all the previous stages that each one of us and all of us together have passed, until we reach the end of these attempts.
Route 49, is not the total of people who were informed and showed some interest – but a series of situations which have reached a completed shape and are pursuing now a chance to be materialized.
Route 49 is not a team with an official identity or a statute. It is a dynamic corporate disposition which does not serve a specific ideological guideline, but a common intention for everybody to support openly, in his/her way, the reaction opposite of this human cession we call a city.
22 May 1999.