Und. Athens: Rediscovering Creativity in Athens, a Story at a Time

How many times do we think we absolutely know the city we live in, that there’s nothing new to see or discover as we walk the same streets and hang out at the same places?

It’s true, we often overlook how our cities change under our very noses, and sometimes in very exciting ways.

Athens is definitely a city in flux, and its many contradictions and paradoxes make life here constantly pivot between enchantment and bewilderment: there’s nothing to hate about the weather, but the traffic can be such a pain sometimes.

There’s always somewhere fun and exciting to hang out, but at the same time there are more homeless people on the streets than ever.

Creativity blooms, while politics and the economy are in deep trouble.

Somehow young Greeks seem to find the means to persevere, and push against the grain as they strive to keep their spirits high, and build a better future.

Perhaps this is why, against all odds and despite all lack of institutional support and public funding, that contemporary art is blooming in Athens.

More and more young artists open their own self-managed art spaces, or create groups to create together and materialise their creative ideas independently, with whatever means available.

At the same time, the traditional gallery model seems to be failing younger artists, with the exception of smaller, young galleries that have their eyes and ears open for new talent and the shifting cultural landscape: there’s almost as many alternative and non-profit art spaces in Athens as there are commercial galleries, which is very telling of how the paradigm in art production and circulation has shifted from the traditional white box to other, more unusual, perhaps more authentic and integrated ways of sharing art and ideas.

There are of course many maps for Athens, but up to now there was no dedicated map for the alternative art scene, with the exception perhaps of the recent Athens Independents Index pamphlet released by a coalition of 21 out of the over 40 independent art spaces in the city.

This gap in promoting and communicating alternative creativity in the city was the main drive and urgency behind Und. Athens, the new city guide that focuses on the lesser known side of Athens and with a particular focus on emerging talent and the alternative art scene that no travel guide will tell you about.

It’s not that all of these spaces were a secret until now; it’s more like no one thought that these spaces were important enough to be documented and promoted in the first place.

For Und. Athens, these spaces are the exact reason why Athens is rapidly emerging as a hotbed for contemporary visual art, and why art lovers from around the world should visit and explore the city in more depth and substance.

Und. Athens is more than a map; it’s a well-designed resource for art professionals to discover in a glance the current art scene in the city, that will help them locate all the spaces where new and unconventional things are happening.

Through these spaces, one will then find leads to the artists themselves and their work.

For this purpose, Und. Athens is also publishing an online journal, where readers can find out more about local artists, underground art venues and alternative events in the city.

We made this map with great love for Athens and its artists. We wanted to show the rest of the world that there’s much more to Athens than meets the eye, beyond all the stereotypes of Classical Antiquity and Mediterranean culture.

We felt the urgency to promote and highlight all the artists and their quirky, exciting new work; the smaller festivals; the weird exhibitions; the indy publications.

Hopefully Und. Athens will help in a substantial way foreigners and locals alike to rediscover and embrace young contemporary creativity in the capital of Greekness — and that this small step will be the beginning of a long and exciting journey.

Und. Athens is the new alternative art guide for Athens.

Visit und-athens.com for more information about the project, and stories from the Athenian art scene.