MONODROME: Art’s debt in times of crisis. Review by Veroniki Korakidou
The final part of a trilogy which started with DESTROY ATHENS 2007 & continued with HEAVEN 2009. Drawing upon the life and work of Walter Benjamin and inspired by his book by the same title (One way Street, 1928), MONODROME was curated by Nicolas Bourriaud and X&Y (Xenia Kalpaktsoglou and Poka-Yio, co-founders of the Athens Biennale).
Athens Biennale 2011 was the third edition of this institution and was entitled "Monodrome", meaning "One way street" after the 1928 text "Eisenstrasse" by Walter Benjamin. The concept of the title is obvious; after the first Athens Biennale in 2007 prophetically entitled: "Destroy Athens", the second Biennale "Heaven" in 2009, "Monodrome" comes as a closure to this trilogy. Why Walter Benjamin? Because he was a "defeated intellectual", according to the curators. German-Jewish philosopher, an emblematic figure of 20th century thought, gave an end to his life at the french-spanish border while trying to escape the Nazis. "He was unable to overcome his personal dead-end as a subject", says Poka-Yio of X&Y and he continues: "The title of this exhibition after Benjamin’s text refers to a collective dead-end" currently at stake and it’s only possible fate: a cloud of doom. "Monodrome" aimed to provoke debate around "something that has fallen apart, but to also offer the possibility of a glimpse at something new to come".