Immediately after the completion of the first phase of the Ios Art Residency, the artist and curator of the program talks about this new and interesting initiative.
The event, held for the first time this year by the Save Ios association, aspires to include the island of Ios in the Greek art map, bringing to the fore issues such as the environmental and cultural effects of the development of the islands.
What is Save Ios and what is its purpose? Why was Ios Art Residency created?
The association “Save Ios” has as its main purpose the protection of the natural and man-made environment of Ios. Much of the island has been bought by companies with own business interests. These companies promote a development that is completely incompatible with the Aegean physiognomy of the island – both in the form of the projects they build and the extensive environmental damage they cause, which have recently been punished in court. The respective governments have supported this situation, even including the investment plans of the companies in the category of “strategic investments”. They justify their decisions in the name of “development”, even if it is accompanied by the destruction of unique landscapes and cultural features, and even if the benefits to the national economy in terms of creating quality jobs are minimal.
Our union fights against this absurdity, with actions it takes at the legal level, at the communication level, and others. One of his communication activities is the Ios Art Residency, with which we seek to raise public awareness, both the inhabitants of Ios and its visitors, about the fragility of the Cycladic landscape and the effects of human intervention in it.
What do you think is, or should be, the role of art initiatives in the Greek region?
Such actions in the field of visual arts activate a condition of extroversion and connection of the center with the region. An important factor in this is the dialogue and exchange of views with the artists, the residents and the visitors, creating stimuli about the necessity but also the ways of ensuring the cultural viability of a place. The visual landscape of the country is expanded in this way through a system of expressive content that enhances its capacity and evolves its aesthetic values. The hospitality programs invite artists from abroad, attracting interest in Greece and strengthening its presence in international cultural events.
What is the theme of Ios Art Residency?
The hosting program in April, as well as the exhibition that will take place in August, is entitled Micro-stories of a changeable landscape. It is held with the support of the Municipality of Ieton and under the auspices and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Its main goal is to create a unique and modern way of storytelling, to promote the sustainable development of the island and to cultivate the environmental and social sensitivity of its inhabitants and visitors. In particular, Ios Art Residency # 1 aims to create a strong cultural meaning in relation to the interaction of human activity and the natural environment, the geopolitical concepts behind the land-sea dialectic, and the relationship of proximity to nature.
Why did you choose the environment and sustainable development as one of the main axes of the program?
The islands of the Cyclades (as well as many other Greek islands) are under enormous housing pressure as prices for luxury homes have skyrocketed. Without the required attention and protection, the islands will lose their unique beauty and physiognomy, without ensuring the economic viability of local communities. Environmentally friendly development is the only way out for these sensitive tourist areas. It is also possible, as, for example, countries such as France and Italy have managed to protect beautiful landscapes and traditional settlements in areas with high tourist demand. This is what we should pursue in Greece as well, despite the strong pressures that can be exerted by private financial interests. With Ios Art Residency we want to emphasize the above topics.
Which artists are participating in this year’s event?
We have invited for two weeks in April 2022 three visual artists, Dimitra Kondylatou, Orestis Mavroudis and Fotini Palpana to get to know Ios up close, to exchange views with its inhabitants and through field research to produce new works through the media. of their choice. The works will be hosted as part of a Contemporary Art Exhibition and lasting one month, in August 2022, being the occasion for a public debate on the necessity and ways to ensure the environmental and cultural sustainability of the island.
How is Ios Art Residency different from other hospitality programs held in Greece?
The special landscape and history of the island are very important elements that artists are invited to explore during their hospitality. Also, the approach to the specific problem of the “development” of Ios that was pointed out at the beginning and the dangers that lurk, differentiate the reason why this residency was created in relation to other hospitality programs.
What is the interaction of the program with the local community?
For Ios Art Residency, the daily practice of art comes to function as an open dialogue with society, to ask questions about the sustainable development of the place and to explore the possibilities of environmental regeneration in interdependence with socio-ecological values. Always taking into account the local, social and historical context of the region, Ios Art Residency aspires to function as a field of systematic research and dialogue about Ios and the wider Cyclades region.
How do you see the cooperation with other initiatives outside Ios?
Our goal from the beginning is to collaborate at some point in the future with other similar remarkable efforts that are happening in the Cyclades. More to build a network and a bridge that aims to raise awareness of the environment of the islands that are currently more endangered than ever.
What would you like the future of Ios Art Residency to be?
Ios Art Residency aspires to expand its scope to other art forms such as dance, music, performance and literature. We also want it to grow in terms of the number of its participants, as well as with the participation of foreign artists, in order to raise its voice in order to promote and protect the natural beauty of Ios.