The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) took the initiative to present in Greece the National participation at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (13 May – 26 November, 2017), with the video installation of George Drivas titled Laboratory of Dilemmas, curated by Orestis Andreadakis. The specific work was selected in June 2016 by an advisory committee, appointed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, among a total of 30 proposals.
Laboratory of Dilemmas gathered in the Greek Pavilion more than 450,000 visitors, and received excellent reviews from the international press. It is an imposing video installation which deals with contemporary socio-political issues and offers a peripatetic audiovisual experience, while also presenting the visitor with thoughts and dilemmas of moral content. Laboratory of Dilemmas based on Aeschylus’ theatre play Iketides (Suppliant Women), poses a dilemma between saving the Foreigner and maintaining the safety of the Native. Addressing current global sociopolitical issues, the work deals with the anguish, puzzlement, and confusion of individuals and social groups when called upon to address similar dilemmas.
Aeschylus’ Iketides (Suppliant Women, 464-463 b.c), the only surviving part of Aeschylus’ lost tetralogy Danaides, is the first literary text in history that raises the issue of a persecuted group of people seeking for asylum. The Suppliants have left Egypt to avoid having to marry their first cousins and arrive at Argos seeking asylum from the King of the city. The King is then faced with a dilemma. If he helps the foreign women, he risks causing turmoil among his people and going to war with the Egyptians, who are after the Suppliants. But if he doesn’t help them, he will break the sacred laws of Hospitality and violate the principles of Law and Humanism, leaving the Suppliants to the mercy of their pursuers.
Laboratory of Dilemmas focuses on the play’s dilemma through the excerpts of an unfinished documentary in the form of found footage about a scientific experiment. This experiment was never completed for unknown reasons, however the found excerpts of the unfinished documentary reveal today, after so many years, details of the experiment, as well as the hopes of the professor who envisioned it and the disagreements with his co-researchers.
The story is presented piecemeal through multiple video and sound sources inside a labyrinth. In the videos of Laboratory of Dilemmasthe acclaimed actress Charlotte Rampling and Yorgos Kotanidis have a leading role, along with other well-known Greek actors such as Lazaros Georgakopoulos, Kora Karvouni, Polydoros Vogiatzis, Rena Kyprioti, Panis Kalofolias.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. It wouldn’t have been realized though without the generous support of our sponsors, and more specifically of the Grand Sponsor Onassis Foundation both in Venice and Greece, Principal Partners Efa Ventures and Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative, and the supporters NEON Organization for Culture and Development, Aegean Airlines, Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), Agricultural University of Athens, St. George Lycabettus Hotel and Absolut and the Communications Sponsors ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation), Athens Voice, gr design, and City Code.