The new curator of Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Belgian Jan Fabre triggered stormy reactions when he decided to exclude Greek artists and dedicate this year’s event to “Belgian spirit.”
Belgian artist Jan Fabre and new art director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival announced this year’s event would focus on works from Belgium and would exclude Greek performances from the country’s most famous festival and allow only Belgian artists.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the everyting but modest Fabre announced that the festival would open with an exhibition of his drawings, models, photographs and videos as a retrospective of his stage work since the 1970s, titled “Stigmata: Actions & Performances 1976-2013.” Among other performances to be held, Fabre described this year’s event as being about the “Belgian spirit.”
He also said the festival would be known as the International Athens and Epidaurus Festival and that Greek artists would be brought back in from next year, making up a third of the performances and exhibitions. “I am trying to create a program that will connect art forms and artists and create synergies,” he said.
One third of the artists presented would be Greek in 2017-2019. But none in 2016. Fabre justified his decision saying he “has not had the necessary time to prepare the Greek proposals.”
Jan Fabre was appointed by the current government, which ousted the previous director, Giorgos Loukos, from the role of deciding the festival’s artistic content.
Belgian spirit only in Greece’s ancient theaters that have been the stages of many great performances? Greeks don’t think so… Greek artists and directors got as upset as they could
Fabre was appointed by the current government, which ousted the previous director, Giorgos Loukos, from the role of deciding the festival’s artistic content.
“This is not the Avignon Festival,” said actor and director Argyris Xafis. “The Athens festival was a key source of art,” he added, describing Fabre’s announcement as a “tasteless joke.”
“Some of the things he is proposing, such as the creation of an academy for new artists, are interesting,” said Prodromos Tsinikoris, the artistic director of the National Theater’s Experimental Stage.
“But in a country that has been destroyed economically, where theaters cannot get funding, you cannot exclude Greek troupes.”
Greek artists and directors came together plan to write a protest letter to Minister Baltas and also to inform the press about the unprecedented plans of Fabre.
Fabre’s plan to have his own ‘tragedy’ Mount Olympus, a 24–hour performance To glorify the cult of tragedy on the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus has triggered another storm among Greeks with some artists to speak of “Blasphemy of the holy Epidaurus“. The performance is also known as ‘the throbbing phallus” as the actors are naked on the stage.
Greek media report that ahead of the performance in August, there is a casting for Greek actors too who have to have the same “physical talents” as their Belgian colleagues.
According to latest information, Baltas is to meet with Fabre and explore possibilities that also Greek artists be included in this year’s Festival.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted that he has been monitoring the debate and that during a meeting with Fabre on Thursday he stressed to ‘new curator’ the need to give greater weigh to Greek productions.
An indepth approach on the issue, you can read in “Watch out for the golden lamb” wrote by Tiago Bartolomeu Costa, Coordinator of Chantiers d’Europe for Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) and advisor for the international programming of São Luiz Teatro Municipal (Lisbon) .
PS Athens Festival without the Greek National Opera and Ancient Theater in Epidaurus without the Greek Classics? I don’t think so, Jan.
…and NO! I can’t tell you according to which criteria Jan Fabre was appointed as the curator of the Festival.