Exile Europa-15th Venice Biennale of Architecture

In the context of the Greek participation #ThisIsACo_op, Association of Greek Architects (SADAS) 

The performance-action Exile Europa will take place at 2pm on Saturday September 17th in the Greek pavilion – Giardini. A presentation will follow the performance entitled “Lesvos Solidarity-PIKPA: The creation and the evolution of a self-managed refugee camp”, with a video screening. An open discussion will follow, connecting the contexts of Greece and Italy.

The performance Exile Europa reflects on the notion of exile and how it is created today, as Europe closes its borders to refugees. 

After the EU-Turkey agreement, signed also by Greece, many European countries – Greece included – have once more closed their borders to refugees and asylum seekers. Many people thus are now trapped in detention centers (“hotspots”), as well as throughout the country. A harsh contradiction: people who are in transit are also trapped. In these circumstances, refugees have again become invisible. The idea of a final destination is lost, the treaty accepts this entrapment.

Exile is what Greece represents now for refugees. Exile: on the borders at Idomeni, in the detention centers, the new concentration (“selection”) camps without a date of exit. At the same time, we see collective co-habitation and solidarity forming in the spaces of the borders at Idomeni, Lesvos, Calais. Co-habitation seems to be a possibility to overcome the borders through self-organization and self determined actions.

Tools used for control, like the Internet, have also become means of mapping of solidarity during the journey, etching routes, networks and tools of resistance.

Exile today is created within and outside of Europe’s borders. Time has been restructured. After the controversial coop in Turkey, the Brexit of the UK, increasing terrorist attacks taking place throughout refugees’ journeys, everything seems to be increasingly in flux: geopolitical instability increases and complicates the barriers and borders that those on the move are forced to face. Within this context what places are considered “safe grounds”, by whom and for whom? What does “destination city” mean in this context? To where are deportations happening today? How do we react to the imprisoning and the refusal of the refugees? How do we react to the Geneva Convention being breached? Where is asylum today?

Nothing is stable. Information and context are constantly changing.

Τhe traces of refugees – today’s exiles – seem to quickly disappear on their passage.

Vulnerable bodies are somewhere and at the same time nowhere.

The body itself becomes the border.

The performance Exile Europa traces notions of exile through the body, song, poetry and material in spaces in Venice. Moving through spaces and moments of journeys, inhabiting uncertainty, exclusion and exile, memories of Makronisos – the island of exile and torture of fighters of the post-civil war landscape of Greece – begin to surface. In the performance testimonies of exile of Makronisos co-exist with the histories of spaces of exile of refugees today – Idomeni, the port of Piraeus, Elaionas, Amygdaleza, Diavata, Moria – will merge with with poems from various places of origin, in languages both familiar and unfamiliar.

The performance will take place in a square in Venice on Friday September 16th and in the Greek pavilion-Giardini on Saturday September 17 2016, at 2pm.

After Saturday’s performance, a presentation will take place entitled Lesvos Solidarity-PIKPA: The creation and the evolution of a self-managed refugee camp, by Eleni Altinoglou, participant in the PIKPA initiative. After the presentation there will be a video screening and an open discussion. The presentation and discussion aim to approach the following questions:

What is the importance and role of self-organized solidarity spaces – like Pikpa Lesvos  – in this moment? How did the space begin and how has it changed through time as needs and political context change? How can/do such spaces and initiatives of solidarity respond and react to closed borders and harshening on current border politics? 

What forms of co-existence and cohabitation are created in tense border spaces, in self-organized spaces in which we live together? What contradictions do we find there? Is it an example of participatory design? With or without architects? What is the role of art and education?

As part of the search, a trip by boat to Makronisos is scheduled for October 5th.

Performance participants: Stefanos Chandelis, Dimitris Samir, Christina Thomopoulos, Eleni Tzirtzilaki

Presentation and video screening: Eleni Altinoglou, Lesvos Solidarity PIKPA

Participating in the discussion: Biennale Urbana (Andrea Curtoni, Giulia Mazzorin), Alessandra Pomarico (Free Home University), Nation25 (Caterina Pecchioli), OverTheFortress, The Nationless Pavilion (Sara Alberani), S.a.L.E.-Docks, Stalker (Lorenzo Romito)

Special thanks to Yiannis and Anthonis Atsonios and the ceramist studio “Atsonios” in Sifnos (Vathi), Greece for their support in preparing this work.


 Idea / Organized by

Nomadic Architecture

With Nails and Teeth Workshop

In collaboration with

Alessandra Pomarico & Sara Alberani