The Nature Museum , athens
All images by the ICZ
the nature museum, athens
Curated by Katia Arfara, Comissioned by The Onassis Cultural Centre for Fast Forward Festival 5
Nature invades Victoria Square. The rooms of an old Athenian residence host a peculiar "Nature Museum". There, at 15 Derigny Street, an award winning Singaporean artist, in collaboration with Greek experts, mounts an adventurous installation showcasing the unknown flora and fauna of Athens – from the rivers that disappeared to the wildlife that was quashed by uncontrollable urbanisation.
2-16 MAY 2018
Sat-Sun: 10:00-11:00 & 14:00-18:00
The Nature Museum is a fascinating exploration of the Athenian natural history. Α bewildering universe of photographs, natural specimens, taxidermy, and documents in an old house in the centre of the city. Stories of Athens's missing rivers, the invasive Tree of Heaven, the nesting habits of monk parrots, and animals living on the edge of survival, are woven together to expose a surprising layer of reality that exists, ignored, but in plain sight in the heart of the city. The Nature Museum takes you on a journey through photographs, artworks and historical documents, narrating myriad stories of Athens's little-known biodiversity and aggressive urbanization.
The installation, curated by the visual artist Katerina Zavakou (Athens) in collaboration with Robert Zhao Renhui and the Institute of Critical Zoologists (Singapore) is derived from the personal collection of Athenian collector and amateur natural historian, Giorgos Charonidis, who spent almost 50 years chronicling the natural world in Athens. The collection reveals a hidden world of natural riches within the city, bringing to light the dramatic violence and loss lingering within the urban environment. The installation is fleshed out by a guided tour and lecture performance, created in collaboration with playwright Joel Tan.
At the heart of Athens' encounters with nature lies a deep story of violence and survival: rivers disappear while urbanized roads emerge, and wildlife bears the brunt of social and spiritual crises. Employing the Institute’s full range of investigative methodologies, the artefacts on display include archival images and historical texts, research papers, documentary photography and installation, all focused on the ways communities have interacted with nature in different time periods and geographical regions. In tracking these encounters and their histories, using methods drawn from historical knowledge-production to contemporary urban ecology, this show unites multiple strands of knowledge into a single museological encounter.
Katerina Zavakou. Image courtesy of the Artist.
Concept: Robert Zhao Renhui
Writing & Dramaturgy: Joel Tan
Research & Dramaturgical Editing: Theodora Kapralou
Research Advisor: Dr. Aleka Meliadou, expert in natural environment management
Performer: Amalia Kavali With the kind support of Zoological Museum of the University of Athens.
Special thanks to: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UOA); Efstratios D. Valakos, Professor of Comparative Animal Physiology and Ecophysiology, Faculty of Biology, UOA, and Director of Museum of Zoology; Panayiotis Pafilis, Associate Professor of Animal Diversity, Faculty of Biology, UOA, and President of Societas Hellenica Herpetologica; Anastasios Legakis, Professor of Animal Diversity, Faculty of Biology, UOA; Theophanis Constantinidis, Associate Professor of Systematic Botany, Faculty of Biology, UOA; as well as Chloe Adamopoulou (PhD), Ioannis Anastasiou (PhD), Pavlos Andriopoulos (PhD), Anna Chapman (PhD), Christos Georgiadis (PhD), Vangelis Koutsoukos, Kanella Radea (PhD), George Stavrakakis.
Thanks to: ANIMA, The Association for the Protection and Rehabitation of Wildlife, and its President, Maria Ganoti; the Hellenic Ornithological Society, and its President, Panagiotis Latsoudis· the Goulandris Natural History Museum, and Maria Dimaki; Panagiotis Sabatakakis, Director of Water Resources at the Institute of Geology & Mineral Exploration, and Vice-President of the Association of Greek Geologists; Katerina Agorastou, Head of the Athens National Garden Department; Stamatis Zogaris (PhD), Senior Researcher at the Hellenic Centre for Maritime Research, Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters; George Papageorgiou, Kosta Papageorgiou, Christo Rousso and Dimitra Papageorgiou.
Curated by: Katia Arfara Commissioned and Produced by: Onassis Culture/FFF