To visit The Last Museum (Athens Edition), please follow the link: www.pcai.gr/thelastmuseum
The Last Museum (Athens Edition) blurs the line between cinema and sculpture, while exploring the potential of web-site-specificity. Principally accessed through www.pcai.gr/thelastmuseum (for a limited period) the exhibition features a major new commission by Greek artist Petros Moris – alongside contributions by artists from six continents.
According to curator Nadim Samman, The Last Museum is (to borrow a term from computational engineering) a ‘stack’. This stack encompasses land, sculpture, code, user experience, and more. The featured artworks straddle all such layers: Each participating artist is commissioned to author a sculptural group, to be installed at a physical site of their own choosing—associated with communications infrastructure, technology and/or environment. Each intervention is then videoed and the resulting clips are subsequently brought together as an interactive sequence. The outcome is a website experience, navigable using bespoke tools.
Thematically, The Last Museum imagines information transmission across the historical longue durée, dramatizing points of intersection with emerging technologies, (body) politics, and the global economy. As it does so, a leitmotif of displacement, limbo, loss, and undeath plays out.
Petros Moris’ new work, Oracle, is set in a derelict textile factory in Laurium—a seaside town in Attica, associated with silver mining since antiquity. Long a source of Athenian wealth and naval power, in the late 19th Century its mines were re-worked for ore extraction, with grave environmental consequences. Later, at the turn of the millennium, this industry collapsed and its massive industrial facilities laid in ruin, awaiting an uncertain future. Moris’ new work responds to that future: According to leaked information, the site will soon house a data-center complex to be built a major multinational information technology corporation (for the purpose of running Cloud, IoT and AI services). Conceptually locating his work between Laurium’s past and its future, the artist’s new commission is a powerful response to the context – and to the mythos of the oracle in Greek culture.
Oracle’s sculptures inhabit the entropic spaces of Laurium’s industrial ghost site. Resembling hybrids between human and non-human faces, these objects borrow from archaeological photogrametric scans and ‘found’ three-dimensional models gathered online. Their metallic sheen reflects the local geological heritage. Additionally, it references how electronic hardware enables what Moris terms ‘uncanny machinic intelligence, and the haunting abstraction of computational operations’.
The interface of Oracle is permeated by a haunting soundtrack composed by Bill Kouligas, and becomes infiltrated by formations of visual coding and synthetic language that were generated by predictive algorithms. In this work, Moris figures Larium’s physical and psychic underground space as the origin of contemporary oracular production—where mineral extraction and psychosocial data power enable what the artist calls ‘the deep-dreaming of the algorithmic Cloud’. Altogether Oracle meditates on entangled timelines, imaginaries, and anxieties bound up with socioeconomic and environmental transformation.
In addition to the work of Petros Moris, other featured artists’ locations include a notorious hacker space in Berlin, Indigenous land in rural Australia, a popular electronics mall in downtown São Paulo, a Cosmic Ray Research Station in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, a half-built mortuary in Accra, Ghana, and wildfires in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Zohra Opoku and Nora Al-Badri deploy sign systems that were once undecipherable (in the form of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics). Charles Stankievech (in addition to Al-Badri) also makes use of Mesopotamian Cuneiform. Closer to home, The Wiradjuri artist Nicole Foreshew highlights Indigenous communications that resist the colonial gaze—through her work with ‘message sticks’, while Jakrawal Nilthamrong’s work features burning mountainsides.
The founder and director of PCAI, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, notes: “We are extremely fascinated for this new collaboration with KW and Nadim Samman and to have worked together on Petros Moris new Delphi-inspired commission.”
The artistic director of PCAI, Kika Kyriakakou, notes: “The Last Museum in a time of turbulence, when the notions of space and physicality are reassessed, constitutes an extremely powerful concept. Petros Moris’ new commission, in particular, challenges these notions depicting how fragile or ambiguous spatial perceptions can become while denoting the interconnectivity of his work with global environmental concerns.”
Participating artists: Petros Moris (new commission), Nora Al-Badri, Nicole Foreshew, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Zohra Opoku, and Charles Stankievech.
Curator: Nadim Samman
Date: 16 Sept – 16 Oct 2021
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*PCAI’s annual program takes place under the support and auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.