“SOUL OF THE LAND” (last days)
City of Athens |

sculpture exhibition by Vana Xenou at the National Garden

to 26/09/10

A dialogue between myth and history, an inseparable part of our culture. The ritual of initiation, as it is revealed in the Greek Mysteries. The Land, is the place of welcoming and remembering, but also the meaning of a “passage” literally and metaphorically through the presence of sculptures. It is an exhibition of Vana Xenou with the general title “Soul of the Land”, that is organized at the General Garden by the City of Athens Cultural Organization and the Board of Directors of the National Garden, with the cooperation of the National Museum of Contemporary Art and under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, from 1 June to 26 September 2010.

What does “Soul of the Land” involve? Vana Xenou places 19 large installations that contain 85 sculptures integrating elements of the land in her work, which take up all of the space, while new pieces have been created especially for the Athens exhibition. The main characteristic of the artist’s work is the dialogue between history and myth. The references to the Greek Mysteries today are not a visit to a lifeless body. The exhibition is based on a contemporary look at the origins of great civilizations and promotes the timeless importance and the reductive-revealing-educational character of the initiation process.
At the same time, in the framework of this action and in cooperation with the National Museum of Contemporary Art (ΚΜΣΤ) – and due to this year’s tribute to women creators – there will be video projections of Vana Xenou exhibitions-installations in June (3/6, 10/6, 17/6 and 24/6), in the Warehouse B1, at the Port.

The thematic axis which the exhibition at the National Garden is based on are:

  • Origin
  • The meaning and character of advent
  • The meaning and character of the passage
  • The meaning of the axis as a transmitting power
  • The nature and the gardens of history-archetypal and principles

Vana Xenou defines the installations as active presences, as the land-park-garden promotes an open relationship of the land with the elements that make up each art piece. The existence of branches, water, soil, metals and minerals are related to the monumental forms of the sculptures. Here, the landscape is not perceived just as environment but sets up the plastic material with which the relation of the land and the art pieces is materialized. In the work of Vana Xenou, the importance of the origin of the land is primarily pointed out.

The National Garden, a result of neoclassic design following the model of European Gardens at the time of the founding of the new capital, carries at the same time the mythological and historic density of the particular land.

It is the land, which is described in one of the most important platonic dialogues in “Phaedo”, two steps from Iliso, the river that Socrates passing by, felt the need for purification (“καθήρασθαι ανάγκη”) and three stages under the sanctuary of Agra, the place where small sacraments were held, at the same place that the sanctuary of Agroteras Artemidos can be found.

The National Garden is undoubtedly the navel of Athens although it has rarely opened up for artistic activities. The City of Athens and the Garden’s Board of Directors expanded the perspective for cultural activities to take place.

It must be reminded that in the period of 2007-2008 Vana Xenou presented a large number of her works in the Palais-Royal in Paris titled “Arrivée Passage”. The huge installation in the centre of the city-in one of the most important gardens of the French capital, where the historic Ministry of Culture of France is located – received outstanding critical acclaim from the European Press and was accompanied by a large catalogue in the authoritative publications Skira. Within a decade, the artist realized large scale exhibitions in key-monuments in Europe. The previous exhibition of Vana Xenou in Paris was the summer of 2000 at the Church of Saint-Louis of the Salpetriere Museum. The artist tenaciously intervenes in historical monuments, public spaces and architectural complexes, for example at the industrial complex “Kronos” in Elefsina – the place that the Elefsinia sacraments take place – which she has included in her work the past few years.

Vana Xenou explains her involvement in Greek myths: “The question of why Elefsina today, triggers my initiative to search the past and be led to the deepest question of humanity, about who we are, where we come from, where we ate going. The eternal return, when life can start over above and beyond personal fate, is related with what was experienced by the initiates, free from the fear of death they were open to meditate freely”.

In the framework of this year’s tribute to women creators, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, it includes the digital presentation of this particular installation with video-projections scheduled for the month June (3/6, 10/6, 17/6 and 24/6) at the Centre for Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki. Essentially, they are projections from a video of this particular thematic unit that started years ago and takes up a different form in each venue that it is presented. This way, at the Centre for Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki a new installation is created, one which through digital projection goes beyond the space and the place. Specifically, excerpts from the exhibition at the Palais-Royal in Paris titled “Elefsis Perasma” will be presented, at the industrial complex “Kronos” in Elefsina, but also shots from the installation of the sculptures at the National Garden.


Press Office PODA

Vivi Haritou tel. 210 3644449 & 210 3638132 &

National Museum of Contemporary Art

Kolokotroni 21, Stavroupoli 56430, Thessaloniki
Τel. 2310 589140-1 & 3, F: 2310 600123,

Warehouse B1, Port – Post Office Box 107 59, 541110 Thessaloniki,,

Press Office National Museum of Contemporary Art. & Centre of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki

Giota Sotiropoulou

6972336261, 2310 546683, 2310 593271

Place: National GardenAddress: Main entrance from Amalias Avenue


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