October 22, 2022 – September 2023 | Curated by Hadas Maor & Tal Michael Haring
The City of Athens and Outset Greece are organizing the international exhibition of contemporary art, Seeing The Invisible, for the first time in Greece. The exhibition, presented in the National Garden of Athens, is the most ambitious and extensive exhibition of contemporary works of art created with the aid of Augmented Reality technology and will last until September 2023.
The exhibition’s works are visible only through the free app Seeing the Invisible for mobiles and tablets*. Visitors are invited, through the app, to explore the National Garden’s natural environment and locate the works of art scattered in it, following the suggested route shown on the app’s map.
The exhibition for the period 2022-2023 is presented in the National Garden of Athens in parallel with ten (10) other botanical gardens around the world. Thirteen (13) Augmented Reality works by famous international artists are hosted in the Seeing the Invisible exhibition in all gardens. For the exhibition in Greece, Lukia Alavanou, a Greek artist, was commissioned to create a new work, “Nea Zoi” (New Life), making the National Garden the only one to include 14 exhibits.
The participating artists are Lukia Alavanou, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Ori Gersht, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Daito Manabe, Sarah Meyohas, Mel O’Callaghan, Pamela Rosenkranz, Timur Si-Qin, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Ai Weiwei.
The exhibition focuses on the relationship between man and the environment, exploring the boundaries and connections between art, technology and nature. The report utilizes models of sustainable practices, thus placing these digital experiences within the botanical gardens, underlining the importance of protecting flora and fauna of the region and limiting the carbon footprint to a minimum.
The Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, on the occasion of the exhibition, stated: “Today we see technology in the service of contemporary Art, in an extraordinary natural environment, in a historic landmark of Athens. The experience, as we navigate the paths is unique. The works “emerge” and “enhance” the beauty of the Garden. We want Athens to be a pioneer and stand out. We want technology to serve beauty, make our lives better.”
The Director of Outset Greece, Artemis Stamatiadis, noted: “It is a great pleasure and honour to present Seeing The Invisible in Greece. The experience of viewing contemporary art through technology is unprecedented. Simultaneously presented in ten (10) botanical gardens worldwide, the exhibition touches upon critical issues of our times, such as environmental awareness, technology footprint and inclusive lifestyle. Presenting these projects in the unique environment of the National Garden creates the ideal conditions for an interactive experience.”
The augmented reality contemporary art exhibition Seeing the Invisible was initiated in 2021 by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in partnership with the Outset Contemporary Art Fund and the support of the Jerusalem Foundation. It is the first augmented reality exhibition to be developed in collaboration with botanical gardens worldwide. From 2022 to 2023, it opens in the National Garden of Athens and simultaneously at ten (10) other botanical gardens around the world: the Adelaide Botanical Garden (Australia), the Eden Project (England), Gardens by the Bay (Singapore), the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (Israel), the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the Historic Spanish Point Campus (USA), Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Garden at Elm Bank (USA), the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (Canada), the University of Texas, the Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (USA) and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (South Africa).
Opening date: October 22 & 23, 2022 (from 10:30 am until sunset)
Duration of the Exhibition: October 2022 – September 2023
Visiting hours: opening hours of the National Garden (from sunrise to sunset)
The guest experience
The works are “presented” on the paths of the National Garden and its emblematic points through innovative technology. The artworks can only be viewed through the free Seeing the Invisible app, which viewers can download on their smartphones or tablets *. Visitors follow the suggested route using the app’s GPS map. The application informs viewers to scan with their devices when they approach an exhibit. The physical environment in which the user is located remains the same, but through augmented reality, the works of art are projected at pre-selected geographical locations.
Through the application, visitors can interact and take photos of the works.
The process is simple.
STEP 1. Download the free Seeing the Invisible* app via App Store or Google Play on your mobile phone or tablet from the following link:
STEP 2. Open the app. For the app to operate correctly, you will be asked to allow the geolocation service (GPS) and access to your camera.
STEP 3. Connect to Wi-Fi or open your device data to allow the exhibition map to appear. Once it appears, you don’t need to be connected for the app to run.
STEP 4. Follow the information on your device’s screen and go around the exhibition to discover the exhibits.
*The app requires a mobile with a minimum of 4GB of memory and an Apple IOS 11 or Android 9.0 Pie operating system (API 28). It equally runs on iPads & Tablets with the same features.
It is recommended that visitors to the exhibition have already downloaded the free Seeing the Invisible app, via Google Play & App Store from the link http://seeingtheinvisible.art/app/, before visiting the garden and have headphones with them.
The theme of the exhibition
Our planet is in a state of emergency: climate change and biodiversity loss. By placing these digital experiences in botanical gardens without affecting the flora and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum, the exhibition addresses issues related to nature, the environment and sustainability while exploring the boundaries and relationships between art, technology and nature. At the same time, melancholic and hopeful, each work of art offers a unique perspective on these unresolved issues by creating spaces that evoke experiential thoughts and reflections while urging viewers to immerse in them.
As viewers are invited to explore the botanical gardens and locate the artworks scattered around, they have to use electronic devices to “see” the digital works and, in many cases, experience how their physical presence affects the exhibit and changes its course, exploring further the interactions between the “art object” and the individual. Since the artworks cannot be experienced online but require a physical presence in the gardens, they offer a “phygital” experience that combines physical location and digital presence. Thus, the exhibition invites viewers to reflect on contemporary concepts related to the place and the non-place, the physical and the digital sphere.
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A few words about:
The 14th project, “Nea Zoi” by Lukia Alavanou, is the result of a dialogue with children of the marginal Roma community of Nea Zoi, an uncharted toxic desert in the region of Western Attica. The project was funded by Outset Greece and is exhibited exclusively in the National Garden of Athens. The main goal of Outset Greece is to support and promote the work of Greek Artists, taking initiatives that strengthen Greek participation in the international art scene. Lukia Alavanou is an animation artist and director. In 2022 she represented Greece at the 59th Venice Biennale with the virtual reality (VR) project ” Oedipus in Search of Colonus“. She holds a master’s degree in photography from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London and is the winner of the 5th DESTE Award in Greece. After receiving international recognition, she founded Greece’s first virtual reality (VR) production company in recent years.
The National Garden in Athens is an excellent example of 19th-century landscape architecture (English style), and its value extends beyond the borders of Greece. It is considered the most successful work of Queen Amalia and is the most important historical Garden in the country. Its creation is directly linked to the establishment of the modern Greek state and the development of the city of Athens into a modern European capital. It was initially created to be the Garden of the Royal Palace, the current building of the Hellenic Parliament.
Its construction began in 1839, and by 1852 the Garden reached its total surface of 15.8 hectares. The basic shape and features of the Garden have not been altered over time. The sensation of the natural landscape, the presence of the complex winding network of paths, the vegetal parts, the intense presence of water, the small beds or lawns, and its historical plantations dominate until today, creating an oasis in the centre of Athens, an important attraction for children and grownups, for the locals and foreign visitors.
In 1923 the National Garden became a public garden, and in 1927 the National Committee of Public Gardens was established, which operated until 2004. Since then, the City of Athens has taken over the management of the Garden for 90 years in total. In 2011, the National Garden was officially designated as a Historic Site under the relevant decision of the Ministry of Culture.
Outset Contemporary Art Fund
The Outset Contemporary Art Fund is an independent international organisation founded in 2003 in the UK. Its purpose is to support, promote and finance cultural organisations, museums and programs that promote contemporary art and are aimed at a broad audience. The organisation’s activities have a global impact, as it is already active in nine countries– Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.
The Greek chapter of Outset – Outset Greece – was founded in 2012 by Elina Kountouri, whereas, since 2021, Artemis Stamatiadis has taken over its direction. It aims to create a cultural bridge between Greece and abroad through a continuous creative dialogue. It actively supports the development of contemporary Greek artistic creation and, to date, has supported 77 organisations and the work of 867 artists, curators and other creators.
Press Contact Person for the exhibition: Rallou Avramidou, email@example.com