Stefanos Tsivopoulos represents Greece at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia with his work History Zero. Crisis is a Greek word and only Greeks know better its effect in all aspects of life as well as what is to be the weakest link of the circle. When we came across the content of the Greek participation in the 55th International Biennale of Venice we found the title very inventive and taking into consideration the Biennale’s general theme “Encyclopedic Palace” we thought that we all should get a zero in history because we have not learned from previous world financial crises. Tsivopoulos work is a slap to the rotten financial system based on golden boys (eventually gold-plated) which crashed the whole world and shook the foundation of modern capitalism.

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copyright Stefanos Tsivopoulos, courtesy: the artist, Kalfayan Galleries, and Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

History Zero comprises a film of three episodes alongside an archive of texts and images. The film questions the value of money and the role money plays in the formation of human relationships by depicting the experiences of three very different individuals; an art collector suffering from dementia, who, living alone in a museum-like house, is consumed with creating origami flowers using euro banknotes; an African immigrant who wanders the streets of Athens pushing a supermarket trolley and collecting scrap metal to sell; an artist who observes and records street scenes at random with his i-Pad, searching for inspiration in the confusing landscape of the city.

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copyright Stefanos Tsivopoulos, courtesy: the artist, Kalfayan Galleries, and Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

At the centre of the installation visitors can find an archive of texts and images containing examples of alternative, non-monetary exchange systems. Focusing on historical and contemporary applications of alternative social experiments, such as a system of cash transfer using pre-paid mobile phone minutes that is evolving as a form of alternative currency in parts of Africa, the archive stands as a clear political statement which questions the homogenizing power of a single currency.

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copyright Stefanos Tsivopoulos, courtesy: the artist, Kalfayan Galleries, and Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

In the official press release we read “History Zero, specially commissioned for the Biennale, comes at a critical moment in contemporary Greek and European history. The artist views the culmination of the multi-layered crisis as an opportunity to interpret an alternative visualization of the future. History Zero implies not the end, but a point of departure, of recovery and growth: the beginning of something new. By approaching our relationship with money poetically, from a philosophical perspective, the artist proposes dynamic ways to reaffirm solidarity, cooperation and co-responsibility in response to the present crisis. The combination of the archive and films brings together the diverse culture surrounding economic exchange whilst challenging the social, political and performative aspect of alternative currency models.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ work refers to the past, collective and individual memory, the genius loci or protective spirit of a place, and notions of public discourse. His work also deals with the technology of the image, television aesthetics and the historical authenticity of cinema.

The project is curated by Syrago Tsiara, Director of the Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art, Greece, and has been commissioned by the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos

Born in 1973 in Prague, Stefanos Tsivopoulos lives and works in Amsterdam and Athens. He studied fine arts at the Fine Arts Academy in Athens, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Solo exhibitions include Aischylia, Elefsina (2012); ISCP, New York (2011); Heidelberg Kunstverrein (2010); Smart Project Space, Amsterdam (2010); and Art Forum, Berlin (2009). Group exhibitions include Manifesta 8, Murcia (2010); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2010); BFI Southbank, London (2009); ev+a, Limerick (2009); Athens Biennale (2007); and Thessaloniki Biennale (2007). Tsivopoulos is represented by Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan, and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens.



Syrago Tsiara

Born in Larissa in 1968, Syrago Tsiara lives and works in Thessaloniki. She is a curator, art historian and Director of the Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art, part of the State Museum of Contemporary Art – Costakis Collection. Tsiara studied Art History at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Social History of Art at the University of Leeds and completed a PhD on public art and national memory in Greece. She was a curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale, Praxis. Art in times of Uncertainty (2009). Shows which she has curated at the Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art include Masquerades: Femininity, Masculinity and Other Certainties (2006); Disquieting Muses (2011); and Places of Memory – Fields of Vision (2012). Tsiara taught public art, historical avant- gardes and art theory at the University of Thessaly (2004-2007).

Top video: An interview with Stefanos Tsivopoulos at the 55th International Art Exhibition (National participation of Greece) produced for the official Venice Biennale website.

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