Thessaloniki, March 10, 2015
Press Release
NEW DATES: June 23– September 30, 2015
General title: “Old Intersections-Make it New III ”
Title: “Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will

Exhibitions, art events, a performance festival, workshops, symposia, meetings, guided tours and educational programs, consist the program of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, which will be held from June 23 till September 30, 2015, in Thessaloniki, Greece.

This is the last segment of a three part program which began back in 2011 with main focus in the Mediterranean sea, under the general title “Old Intersections-Make it New”.

The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is funded under the Operational Program Macedonia-Thrace 2007-2013, co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and Greece, and is run by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki. Legal Representative of the Project Beneficiary is Prof. Miltiades Papanikolaou, SMCA President.

Katerina Koskina, former president of the SMCA Board of Administration, art historian-curator, holds the General Directorship of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale. Katerina Gregos, art historian, freelance curator and writer, is the curator of the main

The program of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale, main and parallel, the collaborating institutions and the venues, will be announced in detail with a future press release.

Main Exhibition
The main exhibition bears the title “Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will”, which was given by the curator Katerina Gregos, inspired by an aphorism by Antonio Gramsci. It will be housed in Periptero 6 (venue into the premises of the Thessaloniki International Fair). 43 artists, one artists’ collective group from 25 countries all around the world, will show their artworks, new and old productions, making the title of the exhibition more up to date than ever.

Participating artists
Carlos Aires (ES), Can Altay & Jeremiah Day(TR/US), Ivan Argote (CO), Marwa Arsanios (US), Bertille Bak (FR), Taysir Batniji (PS), James Beckett (ZA/NL), Adelita Husni Bey (IT), David Brognon & Stéphanie Rollin (BE/LU), Depression Era (GR), Ninar Esber (LB), Mounir Fatmi (MA), Peter Friedl (AT), Mekhitar Garabedian (SY/BE), Ganzeer (EG), Marina Gioti (GR), Piero Gilardi (IT), Hamza Halloubi (MA), Nick Hannes (BE), Sven Johne (DE), Annika Kahrs (DE), Eleni Kamma (GR), Hayv Kahraman (IQ), Mikhail Karikis (GR), Chrysanthi Koumianaki (GR), Erik Van Lieshout (NL), Thomas Locher (DE), Angela Melitopoulos & Angela Anderson (DE/US), Tom Molloy (IE), Nikos Navridis (GR), Qiu Zhijie (CN), Pavel Pepperstein (RU), Antonis Pittas (GR), Theo Prodromidis (GR), Meriç Algün Ringborg (TR), Anila Rubiku (AL), Marinella Senatore (IT), Nedko Solakov (BG), Nikos Tranos (GR), Thomas Weinberger (DE), Olav Westphalen (DE)

List of countries
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Morocco, The Netherlands, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Syria, Turkey, USA, Zimbabwe.

Extract from the curatorial note.
“The title of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennial is inspired by an aphorism invoked by Antonio Gramsci in the The Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) that he wrote between 1929 and 1935 while he was imprisoned by the Facist regime in Italy at the time. In these voluminous writings which he composed during his eleven years incarceration Gramsci repeatedly cites this phrase; in one of the letters he writes:
“The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned… I’m a Pessimist because f intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” This duality constitutes a point of departure to talk about the current situation of Crisis – and how to overcome it – that governs much of the Mediterranean, which will once again be the focal point of the next biennial.

As a diverse blend and composite of cultures, religions, ethnicities, languages, traditions and norms, it becomes very difficult to define the Mediterranean area, except in geographic terms. Indeed there is much debate on whether we can even speak of a Mediterranean identity, culture or even region; and equally, it is impossible to treat the countries of the area as an undifferentiated group, nor arrive a singular understanding of what constitutes ‘The Mediterranean’. It is as much a real as an imagined space, whose perception has been determined and coloured by idyllic as well as negative stereotypes and misperceptions. But what many of the 26 countries seem to face today are a series of serious ongoing crises (whether social, economic, or political) as well as several zones of armed conflict. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to call the Mediterranean a crisis zone of sorts. Greece, Spain, and Italy are all in the throes of economic crises, Turkey is in the midst of a political crisis, while a large part of the Southern shores of the Mediterranean simmer with political and social unrest as democracy is being challenged, and the Eastern shores remain
mired either in armed conflict or decades long unresolved political, religious and territorial disputes.

So while the Mediterranean cannot be defined in terms of a common identity, it constitutes a hotbed for some of the more burning issues of the moment including social and economic equality, democracy, civil rights, migration and mobility, and personal autonomy, the overall area treading the fine line between order and disorder. (…) Gramsci himself defined crisis as precisely that situation where “the old is dying and the new cannot be born” and added that, “in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” (…) It rests with artists, cultural practitioners and grass roots activists to exercise the creative and radical imagination, in order to critically dissect what is happening right now (thus engaging the pessimism of the intellect) as well as to envisage or allude to another way of being (by harnessing the optimism of the will). (…).

In light of the general fatalism that governs many aspects of politics, economics, and public life today, as well as the dominant view that capitalism is ‘inevitable’, Gramsci’s phrase seems as relevant as it was when first written. It is the optimism of the will that when implemented finally sparks change and can sow the seeds for a better future. (…)

The main exhibition of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennial will explore the multiple meanings of this dual phrase as well as that grey zone in between.

Gramsci’s aphorism could also provide an inspirational point of departure for looking beyond crisis, at a time increasingly characterized by apathy and a general defeatist attitude in relation to the intensification of capitalism, growing social and economic inequalities, and the threat of socially oriented programmes and protections, not only in the Mediterranean, but throughout Europe in general. The Biennial will thus shed light on some of the critical issues affecting the Mediterranean region so far, but will also allow room for what Ernst Bloch has called “forward dreaming”, so essential to move beyond the impasses that humanity faces at the moment. In this case, art has a seminal role to play as a form of emancipatory praxis.

The artists in the 5th Biennial will thus engage in critical, oppositional cultural practices, and exercise the freedom of the imagination thus symbolically engaging with Gramsci’s aphorism. (…).

Katerina Koskina / CV
Katerina Koskina is an Art Historian-Museologist and Curator of exhibitions. She is also the Director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, in Athens, since December 2014.
Born in Corfu, she studied History and Philosophy of Art at Paris I-Sorbonne University. In addition, she studied Museology at the Ecole du Louvre. She has a PhD in Art History.
She worked until 1992 at the European Cultural Centre of Delphi as a Special Advisor for visual arts. She was the Greek Commissioner at the 23rd Biennale of Sao Paulo in 1996 and at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, and the Director of the 3rd, 4th and the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011-2015).
From 1992 to October 2014 she was Curator of the Alpha Bank Art Collection. She has been Artistic Director of The J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, Athens, till the end of 2014 (1992-2014). She has been President of the Board of Administration of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, from December 2008 till January 2015, member of the Artistic Committee of the Athens METRO from 1998 to 2011, and Artistic Consultant to the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games/Athens 2004 S.A. from 2000 to 2004. She is a member of ICOM, and of AICA Hellas.
Katerina Koskina has organized, directed, curated and/or co-curated group and solo exhbitions and contributed essays to several books and exhibition catalogues, as well as articles in newspapers and art magazines. She has been awarded as Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia and Chevalier dans l’ Ordre national de la Legion d’ Honneur.

Katerina Gregos / CV
Katerina Gregos (born in Athens, Greece) is an art historian, independent curator and writer based in Brussels, Belgium since 2006. Currently she is curator of the Belgian Pavilion for the 2015 Venice Biennale, with the international group exhibition Personne et les Autres, which includes the work of the Belgian artist Vincent Meessen together with international guest artists. In terms of institutional positions Gregos formerly served as founding director and curator of the Deste Foundation’s Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens (1997-2002) and Artistic Director of Argos – Centre for Art and Media, Brussels (2006-2008). Gregos also serves as artistic director of Art Brussels and as a visiting lecturer at HISK – The Higher Institute of Arts, Gent. She has also participated in numerous panel discussions and symposia internationally including at, among others, Tate Modern, London; Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; the Venice, Istanbul, Kiev, and Berlin Biennials; the Academies of Fine Arts, Oslo and Copenhagen; the Zurich School of Fine Arts and many other places. She regularly publishes on art and artists in exhibition catalogues, journals and magazines. This year, Katerina Gregos is invited speaker at TEDx Gent. In 2014, she curated the exhibition “No Country for Young Men: Contemporary Art from Greece in Times of Crisis” in BOZAR (Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels), with works by Greek contemporary artists. This exhibition was included in the list of the worldwide important exhibitions for 2014, by the German art magazine MONOPOL.

Katerina Gregos has curated numerous major international group exhibitions, including most recently:
The Politics of Play, for the Goteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Sweden, 2013.
Liquid Assets: In the Aftermath of the Transformation of Capital, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Austria, 2013 (co-curated with Luigi Fassi)
Newtopia: The State of Human Rights (Cultuurcentrum, LAMOT Brewery, Museum Hof Van Busleyden, Academy of Fine Arts, De Oude Vleeshal) Mechelen, Belgium, 2012
Manifesta 9, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Genk, Belgium, 2012 (cocurated with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Dawn Ades)
4. Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of Humankind. (Kunsthalle Mannheim and Zephyr Raum fr Fotografie, Mannheim; Wilhelm Hack Museum and Kunsthalle Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen; Kunstverein Heidelberg, and Kunsthalle Heidelberg / Halle 02, Heidelberg, Germany), 2012. (cocurated with Solvej Ovesen)
Speech Matters, for the Danish Pavillion in the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011

International Advisory Committee
Marieke Van Hal, director, Biennial Foundation
Jan-Erik Lundström, art historian, co-curator of the 1st Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art
Beral Madra, art historian, curator
Thierry Raspail, artistic director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and director of the Biennale in Lyon
Gabriela Salgado, art historian, co-curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art

Organizing Committee
Elli Chryssidou, vice-Mayor for Culture, City of Thessaloniki
Hercules Papaioannou, art historian, curator at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography
Xenis Sachinis, president of the AUTh Fine Arts School
Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki
Syrago Tsiara, director of the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki / SMCA

The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is the third one of a three part program which started in 2011 and is funded under the Operational Program Macedonia- Thrace 2007-2013, co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and Greece. The organization is run by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, realized with the participation of the “5 Museums’ Movement of Thessaloniki” (Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Teloglion Foundation of Arts), supported by the Municipality of Thessaloniki and with the collaboration of many local institutions.

21st. Kolotroni str, Stavroupoli, 56430 Thessaloniki: +30 2310 589141 & 3, F: +30 2310 600123
SMCA Department of Public Relations and Communication: +30 2310 589152,

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