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Statecraft at National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

June 16–October 30, 2022

Statecraft is an international group exhibition that looks at the fundamental principles that go into the creation of the modern nation state, as well as the issues it faces in our globalized, networked world.

Statecraft investigates the history and processes of modern nation-building, focusing on the power structures and processes that underpin state bureaucracy, governance, and sovereignty, as well as the common issues of democracy, citizenship, rights, inclusion, and exclusion.

In a period of rising nationalism and authoritarianism, as some countries resort to an inward-looking approach, the exhibition also examines the scope and limits of state authority while addressing a new political reality in Europe and beyond.

Statecraft, a group exhibition featuring 39 artists, explores alternate models of statehood and political organization, as well as the current issues of mass migration and the reality of post- and transnational organizational structures, globalisation, and digitally enabled nomadism.

While the exhibition was being put together, Russia invaded Ukraine, reminding us that the post-Cold War order is crumbling, that democracy and national sovereignty are not to be taken for granted, and that unchecked state power leads to violent and dangerous conditions for humans and the environment.

It is extremely difficult to create objective criteria for nationhood in today’s multicultural Europe, given the evolving ideas of identity, language, and ethnicity. What is the nation state, this relatively contemporary artificial creation, in this context?

To what extent, as Benedict Anderson postulated in his seminal work Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, is the nation an imagined political community, a cultural creation, generated via the ongoing circulation of discourse? How are the myths that support the concept of a unified national community created?

Statecraft prompts us to reflect on the nation state in the changed circumstances of today, more than 200 years after its conception as an idea. Can we imagine other models of social organisation and statehood that don’t require identification with a particular flag or passport? What other forms of belonging and community outside the nation state might come into fruition?

How can we move beyond the toxicity of nationalism while retaining the benefits of the nation state? Is the concept of “global citizenship,” which is gaining currency in light of the need to find shared solutions to shared problems, at all possible—or even plausible?

The artists in the exhibition critically dissect these issues, revealing the hidden complexities underlying the contested issues of nation and statehood, and compelling us to look at these from unexpected and imaginative angles.

Statecraft inaugurates the new artistic programme of Katerina Gregos, who was appointed artistic director of EMST last year. 

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated, full-colour catalogue. Available in both Greek and English, it is designed by Rafaela Dražić with texts by Katerina Gregos, Anny Malama, Ioli Tzanetaki, Theophilos Tramboulis and the artists.

Bani Abidi, Ewa Axelrad, Zany Begg and Oliver Ressler, Loulou Cherinet, Liu Chuang, Köken Ergun, Katya Ev, Alexis Fidetzis, Marta Górnicka, Ivan Grubanov, Giorgos Gyzis, Lise Harlev, Femke Herregraven, Eleni Kamma, Navine G. Khan-Dossos, Thomas Kilpper, Szabolcs KissPál, Panos Kokkinias, Stéphanie Lagarde, Langlands & Bell, Ella Littwitz, Thomas Locher, Cristina Lucas, Tanja Muravskaja, Marina Naprushkina, Kristina Norman, Daniela Ortiz, Trevor Paglen, Antonis Pittas, Janus Samma, Larissa Sansour, Jonas Staal, Anastastis Stratakis, Sasha Streshna, Maria Varela, Vangelis Vlahos, Eirini Vourloumis

EMST is funded by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports.

Media enquiries
International: Amanda Kelly, Pickles PR
National: Kassiani Benou, EMST

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
[email protected]
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