Transforma tus ideas en acciones cívica / Transform your ideas into civic actions

31.03.2017 – 01.04.2017 / 11:30 a.m. – 06:30 p.m.
Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki
66 Vasilissis Olgas Avenue
546 42 Thessaloniki, Greece

International Conference


Text: Prof. Dr. Sotirios Bahtsetzis

The Artecitya Conference by Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki aims at creating a productive exchange between the fields of art, labour, politics and research-based knowledge, aiming at a trans-disciplinary approach. It shows the mutual dependence of work and art in envisioning the future of an upcoming society.

Our understanding of the concept of work is closely linked to industrial wage labor and employment. With paid work, we combine the meaning of life and the social legitimacy of individuals and collectives. This mental understanding becomes increasingly precarious, while corresponding with changes in the Welfare State and the globalised society. In the post-industrial society technological developments (internet and digital networking as well as mobility of labour) enabled various alternative forms of human labour to emerge, thus challenging conventional modes of work. New media researchers, digital craftsmen, socially engaged activists, permaculture makers, post-industrial designers, as well as innovative policy makers act towards inventing new forms of work as interaction with the social and natural environment.

In the meanwhile, many artists today are deeply committed to making work that addresses pressing social issues and changes in the way we perceive the world: social cohesion, post-democracy, environmental crisis and scarcity of resources, intersection of leisure and work etc.. The potential of art for social change can be deployed in order to rethink the concept of work and offer alternatives to a precarious living, characterised by permanent unemployment, indebtedness and deprivation of civil rights, as well as the damaging lack of creative and resilient solutions for society.

Artists explore new forms of “social practice” that become involved in addressing communities and conventional institutions. These experiments engage both with the notion of creativity (e.g. low and high culture), as well as with a redefinition of work (e.g. DIY, Makershops, Fablabs, alternative economies). Moving beyond the function of commenting and responding to society by means of creating visual, auditory or performing artefacts, socially engaged art can ignite demands for change, and provide a platform for reflection, collaboration and laboratories for building socially resilient practices of work.Our aim is to provide equal space to both scholarly and artistic contributions, as well as presentations of best practice models in society, in order to explore these highly relevant social, economic and aesthetic developments. Focusing on three specific areas -that is art, community and politics- various scientists, scholars, educators, artists, civil society activists, as well as stake holders in politics and economy are invited to deeply explore this state of things and offer proposals for building alternative models of work and art. Possible perspectives for contributions could be: new technologies, urban creativity, transformation design, art activism, civic participation, commons, alternative economies, social cohesion, best practice in social entrepreneurship, resilient and post-growth society, global governance and post-humanism. The list of contributors includes scholars, policy makers, and individuals who have already promoted significant and successful innovations in the sectors mentioned above.

A specific trait of the Conference is its format, which will be directed as a creative laboratory paying particular attention to audience interaction. 

The event will be held at Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki and at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel. Following the format of a “staged performance” the meeting departs from the conventional conference, in order to enhance participation and activation of the public, as well as an inclusive exchange of ideas. Contributors are invited to participate either with a video statement or with a a short lecture which will comment and further expand issues and themes presented in the video statements.

The 2-days conference will be live-streamed on the official site of Artecitya and various social media platforms. Art and educational institutions around the world, such as the KUNSTrePUBLIK in Berlin will host the live-streaming of the conference. Public attending theconference live as well as public worldwide attending via live-streaming can submit questions to the contributors. Moderators will present a selection of the submitted questions to the contributors and ask them to comment. The stage design will be created by the artists collective Practise(in)Cognition, who have emerged as a result of artist Eric Ellingsen’s residency last Summer. The language of the conference will be English with a simultaneous translation into Greek for the public attending the conference.


Video Statements

Tania Bruguera, political artist

Kari Conte, Director of Programs and Exhibitions, International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York

Pablo Helguera, artist, educator, author 

Jeanne Van Heeswijk, artist

Dr. Phil. Monika Kästli, art historian and curator

Achilleas Kentonis, trans-disciplinary artist, innovation trainer and engineer; founder and director of ARTos Foundation Nicosia

Dimitri Konstantinidis, director, Apollonia European Art Exchanges

Florian Malzacher, freelance curator, writer and dramaturge, artistic director of Impulse Theater Festival 

Pedro Reyes, artist

Prof. Dr. Felix Stalder, Professor for Digital Culture, Zurich University of the Arts; Senior Researcher, World Information Institute, Vienna

Nato Thompson, Artistic Director, Creative Time, New York


Sepake Angiama, documenta 14, Head of Education

Prof. Dr. Sotirios Bahtsetzis, curator, author, educator, Principal Scientific Consultant of the Conference

Stephanie Bertrand, independent curator

Niels Boeing, journalist, author, co-founder of Fab Lab Fabulous St. Pauli, Hamburg

Lydia Chatziiakovou, ArtBOX, Artistic Director of Artecitya by Helexpo

Elli Chrysidou, Vice-Mayor of Culture, Municipality of Thessaloniki

Prof. Dr. Christopher Dell, Professor for Urban Design Theory at HafenCity University Hamburg

Eric Ellingsen, artist, architect, educator & Practise(in)Cognition, artists group

Giovanni Flore, Benetton Digital Signage Project Management, former consultant at Fabrica

Dr. Giorgos Gkiouzepas, environmental scientist

Harikleia Hari, architect

Philip Horst, artist, KUNSTrePUBLIK, co-founder ZK/U Berlin

Lena Jöhnk, PhD student in the field of Socially Engaged Art, HafenCity University Hamburg

Samuel Kalika, artist, designer; founder of Critical Concrete, Porto

Christof Mayer, Raumlabor, Berlin 

Christos Pierros, Economist, Senior researcher at Labour Institute ofGSEE (General Workers Confederation of Greece)

Rainer Rosegger, sociologist

Christos Savvidis, ArtBOX, Artistic Director of Artecitya by Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki

Prof. Max Spielmann, Hyperwerk Institute for Postindustrial Design, Basel

Dr. Kostis Stafylakis, art theorist and visual artist, political scientist, Adjunct at the University of Patras

Prof. Dr. Nicholas Theocarakis, Associate Professor of Political Economy and History of Economic Thought at the Department of Economics of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Arnisa Zeqo, documenta 14, Coordinator of Education