Year of the Pig

From the end of 2018, Conte Potuto was on a residency in Athens. For three weeks we lived in a flat in Exarchia. Dimitri Yin, the founder of Phoenix Athens Gallery, either makes this flat available to artists as part of an artist-in-residence programme or rents it out to tourists via Airbnb. Exarchia is a neighbourhood known for its anarchist-autonomous history, where private investors are increasingly converting flats into Airbnb holiday apartments, thus removing them from the housing market, whose prices are rising as a result. Phoenix Athens is located on Askilipou Street, also in Exarchia, on the border with the fancy Kolonaki neighbourhood.

Every day we took long walks and collected material. It was just after Christmas and the streets were full of packaging boxes. We followed the trail of packaging to the port of Piraeus where the boxes tumble out of the huge ships bellies. We learned that since 2009, the port has been largely owned by the China COSCO Shipping Corporation. A man with marble dust on his face laughed at us because we were carrying so much rubbish. He was very friendly, wished us a Happy New Year in English and explained that 2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese calendar and that in Chinese culture the pig represents luck, wealth and prosperity. At sunset, we made our way back to the city centre, deposited the material we had found in the gallery and walked to Syntagma Square to watch the fireworks.

On 14 January we opened an exhibition entitled „Year of the Pig“ in the gallery. From the exhibition space on the ground floor, a narrow wooden staircase led up to the first floor and directly into the sculpture. A narrow tunnel, built of cardboard and wood, screwed together, stapled and painted yellow. Here and there dimmed light fell through structured glass. After several twists and turns, at the end of the tunnel, there was a lamp made of Plexiglas and papier-mâché, below which was an armchair made of wood. In front of the armchair was a peephole set into the wall. The peephole offered a wide-angle bird’s-eye view of a simply furnished bedroom that corresponded to the standard of an Athens Airbnb flat.

Jürgen (Münzer) built another sculpture out of two interlocking doors and placed it on the pavement in front of the gallery. There were also posters with a photo of the bedroom on them to take home for free.

Photography by Conte Potuto