Jennifer Nelson, still from    Democracy is a party  (2019)

Democracy in Europe



A CHANCE TO RESHAPE OUR political melancholy

More is at stake for Europe today and the  elections to European parliament are  highly charged  in the face   of resurgent nationalism, and in a world marked by Chinese power, Russian aggression, American isolationism and Islamist terrorism.   Clearly there is something profoundly wrong with contemporary politics: it is not only a case of the moral and intellectual inadequacy of politicians, but also the gaping chasm between the aims of politicians and the needs of citizens.

The foundations of democracy itself are at risk, not only from the rise of demagogic populism in Europe, but also from the grip of financial institutions and mega-corporations, which have the power to influence the political agenda. The education, culture, motives, capabilities and moral standing of politicians don’t appear to bear much weight today.

Over in Athens, the exhibition entitled Anatomy of Political Melancholy at the Art Space Pythagorion, comes at a timely moment.  Both in Greece, with elections coming up in the country October this year; but also in Europe, with the continuing Brexit impasse as well as European Parliamentary elections in May. In the case of Greece, and other European countries bound by austerity politics, political melancholy is also inextricably tied to what has been called ‘financial melancholy’. 

YORGOS Prinos 05.13.2013 - 3.01 P.M (2014)

YORGOS Prinos Man with Hood (2014)

At a time when ideologies tend to divide people instead of uniting them, the question of who is going to pick up the pieces of European ruins remains more pressing than ever. Time is running short and while we can continue in our chosen forms of activism (whether through art or other forms of voicing public opinion) but if we really want to redress climate change or the dominance of xenophobia before it is too late, we must try to fight for democracy on local regional and national levels. Led by Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, European spring is an electoral wing of a new political movement DIEM25. Their agenda dares to indulge in utopianism; striving to breathe new life into the old, tribal European politics with obsolete national parties, by bringing together artists, activists, academics and politicians to launch campaigns that would rebalance power between the local and national level, in order to help Europeanize the European elections. The DIEM25 addresses this question of what to do next on a practical level, thinking through ways we can act on the widespread loss of faith in politics and politicians today. 

Depression Era  The Tourists – a campaign (#make yourselves at home), 2015-ongoing

The way a sense of impasse and malaise manifest itself in different ways in our everyday lives  is one of the main threads that shape the Anatomy of Political Melancholy. The artists in the exhibition explore the current political discontent, particularly in Europe at this critical moment for the continent, highlighting its effects on the older and the younger generation; on the human psyche as well physical body.

The Anatomy of Political Melancholy is supported by Schwarz Foundation and curated by Katerina Gregos, the foundation’s artistic director and curator of Croatian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale 2019.

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