With a renewed mission, which is international in scope but grounded in the wider cultural and geo-political context of Southeast Europe and the surrounding regions of the Mediterranean, ΕΜΣΤ, the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
, will present cutting-edge contemporary art that examines the state of the world and some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity and our societies today.
ΕΜΣΤ will also shift the emphasis of its collection policy to take advantage of its unique location in a dynamic and multicultural Mediterranean metropolis such as Athens, at a time of increased cultural renewal in the city. The collection will explore the rich and often contested histories and the cultural, socio-political entanglements of the geographical region which includes the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, where cultures, diasporic currents and religions merge and confront one another, yielding complex and often unknown, forgotten or marginalised narratives.
Leading the change is Katerina Gregos, the museums recently appointed artistic director, who notes:
Around the world, long-standing conflicts, geo-political tensions and power struggles have played out in a battle between master and marginalised narratives, with many voices side-lined by stories of nation building and progress. New, more diverse and inclusive narratives now need to be unearthed, including those that reflect the roots of Greeces own tumultuous history and the cosmopolitanism of its diaspora. Ethnic myths need to be dismantled and minority voices need to be heard. ΕΜΣΤ is uniquely positioned to become a leading museum in the region; one that explores the rich multicultural, historic and socio-political connections of the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and the former Levant, while connecting with international contemporary art practices and dialogues.
ΕΜΣΤ considers art and visual culture as a transformative element in education, knowledge production and storytelling, as well as a driver of socially progressive and emancipatory values in society. The museums exhibitions and programmes will focus on international and regional practices that cast a critical eye on society at large and its political urgencies, examining key issues such as democracy, governance, equity, economics, the environment, the effects of globalisation and the dominance of technology, whilst highlighting the importance of public dialogue and the commons.
While endeavouring to make sense of our complex and accelerated present by exploring current global issues, the museum aims to encourage an understanding of how it has been shaped by the past, and the ways each of us might contribute to improving or changing it.
The museum will be a place in which internationally relevant social, cultural and political issues are negotiated through the filter of contemporary art and visual culture, with exhibitions and education at the epicentre of its activities. Its public programme will play an important complementary role by reaching out to a wide, international audience, opening up a space for imagination, and inviting us to consider our reality and circumstances differently.
As a public institution, ΕΜΣΤ recognises that culture extends well beyond mere economic value, and encourages a view of art as an inclusive rather than a privileged or exclusive right that is vital to imagining and creating new values.
The museum will allow time and space for artistic creation and reflection, strive for sustainable practices, and enforce fair pay for artists and cultural practitioners.
Particular attention will also be given to a younger generation of Greek artists who have been disadvantaged and disenfranchised by years of economic crisis, austerity and lack of structural support, Greek artists of the diaspora, as well as to international artists who have conducted long-term research in Greece and have produced work that is relevant to the countrys recent history and culture.
Founded in 2000, ΕΜΣΤ holds the national collection of contemporary art and is located in the former FIX Brewery, in the heart of Athens. In addition to a series of temporary exhibitions, it is also currently presenting a selection of over 170 works from its collection, highlighting the work of 78 artists from Greece and further afield.
After a period of delays and closures due to the pandemic, the museum is set to resume full operations and will open to the public on June 16 with a dynamic and ambitious new exhibition programme, which will be announced shortly.