September 30th - October 16th, 2022
An exhibition with works by Gevi Dimitrakopoulou, Forensic Architecture, Maria F Dolores (member of AMOQA Athens Museum of Queer Arts), Sofia Rozaki
Curated by Eleni Michaelidi & Sophie Constanze Polheim
Breathing Exercises brings together four artistic responses to the brutal killing of queer activist Zak Kostopoulos/ZackieOh! on September 21st 2018 in downtown Athens. A brutal hate crime by male civilians and police in plain sight and broad daylight, followed by discriminating media coverage, an attempted state cover up, and the all too familiar police impunity - Zak’s life was treated throughout as a life not worth living. In the words of one of his friends, “(...) they read him as a body that has no value.”1
Can artworks reclaim a life’s relevance, when it is itself deprived of any value? Breathing Exercises forges aesthetic and social alliances that expose and look critically at systemic violence. The artistic and investigative positions presented in the exhibition offer textured, multilayered accounts of violence and loss. They correlate the process of mourning with its dominant causes and articulations, and partake in a mourning, language and knowledge production process that is as affective and vulnerable as it is militant and empowering. In transcending the purely symbolic realm, they resist dominant narratives to restitute “a body that matters.”2
Growing from collaboration, community ties and interpersonal networks, these “breathing exercises” resist notions of artistic production as an individualist practice and shift away from a single perspective towards a shared one. And, maybe, they give some form to aspirational hopes for a better life. Following Sara Ahmed’s syllogism, “Maybe the point is that it is hard to struggle without aspirations, and aspirations are hard to have without giving them some form. We could remember that the Latin root of the word aspiration means “to breathe.” I think the struggle for a bearable life is the struggle for queers to have space to breathe. (…)”3
1 Quoted in the video work of Gevi Dimitrakopoulou, This Right; Zak, Life and After, 2020, accessible online at: https://vimeo.com/476953966.
2 Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, New York: Routledge, 1995.
3 Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness, Duke University Press: Durham and London, 2010, 210.