#OrangeVest at Venice Biennale of Architecture

“Confronting crisis: recent artistic interventions in the public space” project by Angeliki Avgitidou. 

Artists, artist groups and collectives have confronted the various fronts of crisis in Greece, over the last years, presenting performances, actions and interventions performed in the public space, which contemplate the refuge crisis and the notions of the stranger, belonging and xenophobia.

Georgia Lale‘s performance ‪#‎OrangeVest‬ is presented at this year’s International Exhibition of Architecture at the Venice Biennale, in the Greek Pavillion, as part of Angeliki Avgitidou’s project “Confronting crisis: recent artistic interventions in the public space”.

Link to official Venice Biennale of Architecture website:



Georgia Lale, #OrangeVest, Times Square, NYC, 2015. Photograph: George Xourafas. Courtesy of the artist.

The #OrangeVest performance is a public intervention about the refugee crisis in Europe. The visual language of the piece refers to the refugees’ trip from Turkey to Greece and Libya to Italy. As part of the action, a group of people wear black clothes and orange life vests. They walk around New York City in order to raise awareness about the antagonism that the refugees are facing on the other side of the world.

The performance is based on the usage of public spaces in the city and attempts to create an aesthetic balance between a protest and work of art. Despite having elements of a protest, the performers don’t disturb everyday public routines. The participants are simply present and quiet. They speak to the people around them only if they are questioned about the nature of the performance. The piece is not intended to force the viewer to interact or to take a position. Rather it is to encourage the audience to seek out information about the refugee crisis.

The #OrangeVest performance series had been taken place in New York and other U.S.A states.

The Girls, Untitled, part of Urban Art Ventures, waterfront in the area of the White Tower, Thessaloniki, 2015. Duration: 30 minutes. Photograph: Asimina Galoutzi. Courtesy of the artists.

Five people get into cheap plastic bags and start moving with and within them. Slowly the zippers open up and the bags “give birth” to human beings who start a desperate run towards the sea while unburdening themselves of their cloths. But as soon as they reach the waterfront, buckets of water are aggressively thrown at them, preventing them from falling into the water. They go back and forth over and over, in an exhausting “hide and seek” with the world.

Nicephor Errantes, ODES TO THE ELEMENTARY / TRANSLATING (to get done once and for all with the doom of the future), part of Performance now v.3, Thessaloniki, 2012.Duration: 2 hours. Photograph: Angeliki Avgitidou. Courtesy of Angeliki Avgitidou.

The performance was carried in Thessaloniki, in a route that begun at a  bus stop and culminated at the offices of the Golden Dawn. During the performance the artist would ask people what it was that made them happy  and requested a glass of water from shops along the way. What is at stake is the dialogue for the pursuit of happiness in our meeting with the stranger in the public space. This meeting may force us to recognize parts of our identity that we were not able to realize, think about or negotiate.

Angeliki Avgitidou, _LESS1, part of of Nationless, Skopje, 2015. Photograph: Jana Kocevska. Courtesy of the artist.

An alien of indeterminate origin, nationality or gender is wandering through the streets of the city of Skopje creating bizarre encounters and unfamiliar images between the unreal and the uncanny. The public space as a mixture of the modernist past, a decadent present and a newly imposed polished identity is the backdrop of this strange visitor’s exploration.

Group action, Thessaloniki Inbetween. Performance of the students of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, School of Fine Arts, University of Western Macedonia, new waterfront of Thessaloniki, part of paraliart festival, Friends of the New Waterfront of Thessaloniki, 2014.  Duration:  approx. 20 minutes. Photograph: courtesy of the School of Fine Arts.

This performance is about the alien around us and “the alien within us”. The performance’s text that is being recited trough the loudspeakers, originates from a pastiche of texts promoting Greek tourism (such as “Live your myth in Greece”) and from data from research on immigration in Thessaloniki and the rest of the country. Three performers are balancing on wooden seesaws, holding up, just before descending, identity cards of immigrants. The scattered cloths on the floor are folded and put away revealing two white sheets. At the intermediate stage, the performers alternate positions in a limited pre-existing rectangle, designed on the concrete floor. Finally, three performers lie down on the sheets while the rest roll them to the edge of the site and write numbers on top of them. The rest of the performers sit aside them on the floor, marking the end of the performance.

Alexandros Plomaritis, Loveland, part of ASFA BBQ, Athens School of Fine Arts, 2015. Photograph: Foteini Kalle. Courtesy of the artist.

In an empty white space where we can listen to the sound of the calm sea, the performer asks the audience to lie down on the floor and be comfortable. Then, using chalk, he draws the outlines of their bodies. After drawing all of the outlines he departs from the space for a moment and returns holding a bucket full of sea water with a Mediterranean sponge in it. The sounds change and from calm now we can listen to sounds of the rough sea. He then grabs the wet sponge from the bucket and violently erases all the human chalk outlines.

Antonis Antoniou, out-cast / project route, Athens (city centre), 2014. Duration: 5 hours. Photograph: Niki Zachari. Courtesy of the artist.

The Performance out-cast / project route intends to mobilize  the human body as an extension of privacy and to contemplate the stories of refugees. The psychic weight is transformed into the weight of the materials he carries, which will serve for casting. After the performance, the trace of the body seizes to be private and is transformed into a sculptural home with an unpredictable future, within a bustling city.

Link to official Venice Biennale of Architecture website: