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MODERN LOVE (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) at EMST Athens

December 15, 2022–May 28, 2023

National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens presents Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) from December 15, 2022 to May 28, 2023.

The next major group exhibition at EMST | National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, is Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies). It opens the museum’s winter-spring exhibition cycle, which focuses on digital technology and its impact on intimate human interactions and is curated by artistic director Katerina Gregos.

The exhibition’s subtitle refers to Eva Illouz’s book, Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, which contends that these relationships are increasingly characterized by economic and political principles of negotiating, trade, and equity. Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) investigates the state of love and human bonds in the age of the Internet, social media, and high capitalism, delving into how the digital sphere, the impact of technology behemoths, and neoliberal practices have transformed love, social relations, and how we interact with one another.

The Internet’s increased accessibility has liberating consequences, promoting and enabling more open and diversified lifestyles, contributing to the collapse of interpersonal orthodox norms and social constrictions, and collapsing taboos and biases around gender and sexuality.

Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) examines how the Internet has aided the expression of non-heteronormative sexual identities, particularly in nations where queerness or gender fluidity are stigmatized, if not outright prohibited. It also investigates the human disorders connected with the commodification of emotion, the impact of digital dependency on relationships, and the challenges that occur when the borders between the public and private, as well as the virtual and the real, become increasingly blurred. As we emerge from this horrific period with a sense of lingering wariness, the Covid-19 pandemic and geographic distance provided another another hurdle to having fulfilling, personal, and meaningful human relationship.

At the same time, we live in a period dubbed “emotional capitalism” by philosopher Byung-Chul Han, in which market forces have co-opted human emotions. Apart from providing an open and potentially infinite sense of possibility, Tinder and Grindr, “speed dating,” and the ease of Internet exchange have hollowed out relationships and led to selfish or narcissistic forms of behavior, as well as the creation and curation of misleading images of the self, making it ever more difficult to establish what is real, meaningful, or true.

Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) is about individuals as much as it is about the control mechanisms that bond us together. It is also about examining new societal patterns and the difficulties and opportunities that the Internet and social media provide. It acknowledges love as a powerful emotional force and profound psychological link between individuals that gives our lives purpose in ways that no other interaction, object, or experience can.

How can we regain meaningful intimate relationships in an age of increasing alienation, individuality, and loneliness—symptoms of our world’s increasingly urbanized lifestyles? How can love be freed from the clutches of capitalism and corporate technology? How can one resist the commercialisation, superficialisation, and banalisation of love via commerce and social media? Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) investigates the pathologies and issues that plague love and heart concerns, and strives to envisage a route out of our current alienation, emotional sterility, and loneliness.

The exhibition, which contains 24 artists from 14 countries, is the result of continuous study and has previously been shown at the Museum für Neue Kunst (Germany), Tallinna Kunstihoone (Estonia), IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture], and Centraal Museum (Netherlands). Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) has been expanded for its presentation at EMST Athens to include both Greek and international artists, the majority of whom are displaying their work for the first time in Greece.

A bilingual (English-Greek) magazine, Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies), designed by Rafaela Drazic and edited by Katerina Gregos and Theophilos Tramboulis, is included. In conjunction with IMPAKT Media in the Netherlands, a public program of performances, discussions, and screenings will begin in the new year.

This large international group exhibition will be followed in January 2023 by the commencement of a series of solo exhibitions focusing on the impact of digital technology, the Internet, social media, and the economy they generate on social interactions and contemporary life.

Participating artists
Gabriel Abrantes (1984, US/Portugal), Andreas Angelidakis (1968, Greece), Melanie Bonajo (1978, Netherlands), Candice Breitz (1978, South Africa), Laura Cemin (1992, Italy), Benjamin Crotty (1979, US), Kyriaki Goni (Greece, 1982), David Haines (1969, UK), Juliet Jacques (1981, UK), Sanam Khatibi (1979, Ireland/Belgium), Mahmoud Khaled (1982, Egypt), Duran Lantink (1988, Netherlands), Ariane Loze (1988, Belgium), Maria Mavropoulou (1989, Greece), Lauren Lee Mccarthy (US), Kyle Mcdonald (US), Marge Monko (1976, Estonia), Eva Papamargariti (1987, Greece), Peter Puklus (1980, Romania/Hungary), Yorgos Prinos (1977, Greece), Marijke De Roover (1990, Belgium), Margaret Salmon (1975, US/UK), Hannah Toticki (1984, Denmark), István Zsíros (1985, Hungary)

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST)
Kallirrois Ave. & Amvr. Frantzi Street (former FIX Factory)
11743 Athens
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm,
Thursday 11am–10pm

T +30 21 1101 9000
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