“The City Talks Back” is a creative research program led by Onassis Stegi and Theatrum Mundi, bringing together architects, urbanists, activists, artists, and anthropologists to explore the voicings of contemporary Athens. Through two transdisciplinary residencies in Athens in early 2020, the program acts as a laboratory and a stage for a series of new texts, performances, and audio-visual pieces that reveal the ways the city and its inhabitants talk back.
The project results in the launch of an online platform in September 2020 and a public assembly at Onassis Stegi in June 2021. The backtalks.city site launched in September 2020 hosts new works by the residency participants and a program of broadcasts and live performances and discussions. Following an initial run of broadcasts from 30/09 to 06/10, a monthly series of live discussions will be announced.
The public assembly in June 2021 will see the projects featured at backtalks.city presented in the form of installations, performances, lectures, and discussions aiming to open up new strategies for speaking and being heard.
“The City Talks Back” is initiated as a collaboration between Theatrum Mundi and Onassis Stegi co-curated by George Kafka. It forms part of Theatrum Mundi’s research theme Sonic Urbanism and is indicative of Onassis Stegi’s active engagement with the city of Athens.
backtalks.city was designed by Athens-based graphic design studio Typical Organisation, edited by George Kafka and developed and built by Bracket.
“Priestess of disgrace, you bring joy into my life” by Mercedes Azpilicueta and Angeliki Tzortzakaki with Maria Sideri is a loose script informed by informal, overheard conversations between elderly women in Athenian public spaces.
“Infrastructures for Voice” by John Bingham-Hall and Fani Kostourou is a series of provocations linking the project contributions with critical theory to explore problematics within the staging of voices in the city.
“her moon is a captured object” by Ella Finer is a composition circling a spoken text as it performs an “orbital translation” from English to Greek to English. Produced and performed in collaboration with Eirini Amanatidou and Gigi Argyropoulou.
“Athens Tessellation” is a project by Stefania Gyftopoulou and Mara Petra in collaboration with artists participating in Curing the Limbo, a refugee integration programme run by the City of Athens. The project explores the notion of home as experienced during lockdown by those for whom housing is insecure, uncertain or displaced.
“Becoming the City“ by The Syrian and Greek Youth Forum is a video piece presenting the work of the activist movement and their conceptions of active citizenship in Athens.
“Do you hear Athens?” by Fani Kostourou with Eleanna Santorinaiou is a 24-hour sound piece which explores the balcony as a threshold space between domestic and public spheres across the city.
“vox populi vox dei” by Yorgos Samantas is a sound piece studying the rhythmic structure of political slogans and church bells in Greece.
“Lovesong Revolution” by Urok Shirhan is a sonic essay composed of political songs and sounds.
“Route One” by Tim Ward is an audiovisual piece built from field recordings and handheld video clips.
“Echos-Monde | The World is Echo” by Tom Western is a series of videos remapping Athens through rhythms, relations, circles, circulations, and echoes.
All broadcasts take place at backtalks.city/live
September 30, 2020, 8pm GR/6pm UK
“her moon is a captured object” by Ella Finer
October 1, 2020, 8pm GR/6pm UK
“Lovesong Revolution” by Urok Shirhan
October 2, 2020, 8pm GR/6pm UK
“Priestess of disgrace, you bring joy into my life” by Mercedes Azpilicueta and Angeliki Tzortzakaki with Maria Sideri
October 3, 2020, midnight GR/10pm UK
“Do you hear Athens?” by Fani Kostourou with Eleanna Santorinaiou
October 6, 2020, 8pm GR/6pm UK
“Becoming the City“ by The Syrian and Greek Youth Forum
Onassis Stegi is a centre for contemporary art and culture in the centre of Athens.
Theatrum Mundi is an research centre linking city-making with the performing arts.
George Kafka is an independent London-born, Athens-based writer, editor and curator.
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