The Athens Biennial gets ready to dive into the metaverse

·2-min read
"Black Fire (Mouzone Brothers)" (2019) by Awol Erizku is one of the works exhibited in the seventh edition of the Athens Biennale.

Many may wonder what the metaverse -- this digital universe described as the next step in the development of the internet -- has in store for us. The Athens Biennial is attempting to provide some answers through this year's edition.

Titled "ECLIPSE," the seventh edition of the Athens Biennial is organized with the help of Ghanaian-American curator Larry Ossei-Mensah and the Berlin-based collective Omsk Social Club, all under the artistic direction of the Athens-based visual artist and curator, Poka-Yio.

Together, they have brought together nearly 80 artists and collectives based in North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, many of whom are exhibiting in Greece for the first time. All of them explore "the obscured perspective of reality caused by the constant state of flux we are experiencing in our society now," the "ECLIPSE" organization explains.

This is the case of Nascent, the artistic duo comprising Paul Seidler and Max Hampshire. At the seventh edition of the Athens Biennial, the two artists are presenting "Temporal Secessionism." This three-part work is composed of several digital clocks based on three different time measurement systems: one tracks Bitcoin transactions in real time, another depends on the frequency of a broken quartz crystal, and the last one indicates the consensus time that synchronizes all online servers.

The Afro-Hungarian artist, Huntrezz Janos, on the other hand, showcased a digital performance titled "Eclipsatrix Exuvia" during the biennial's opening weekend. Visitors were able to see the multidisciplinary artist's virtual avatar dancing and spinning on a screen located in one of the event venues -- a former department store in Athens.

Despite its very futuristic theme, the seventh edition of the Athens Biennale also questions the fragility of our physical existence and the inequalities that affect it. South African artist Zanele Muholi pays particular interest to the fate of the country's LGBTQI+ community through a series of photographs, while Chilean artist Juana Subercaseaux questions our relationship with nature through several paintings.

"ECLIPSE for us is an opportunity to propose the destruction of outdated idealism. In order to create an exhibition that revolves around the reclamation of life and how to collectively fathom a new potential of experience not only in our artistic practices but one that begins in our emotive bodies. We hope this can address the lives we live 'differently,'" said the Omsk Social Club in a statement.

The seventh edition of the Athens Biennial runs until November 28 in the Greek capital.

Caroline Drzewinski

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