24.02.2018

Louis Papachristou and Some Preludes to Things That Might Not Come

Space52 is a new project space that has just opened in Votanikos. Its first exhibition is titled Forthcoming, and features works by 22 artists that mark a new exploration of experimentation in their practice. In the following interview the Space52 team talks to the exhibition's curator Louis Papachristou about his journeys around the world and the concept behind Forthcoming.

Interview by Space52.
Installation views by Dimitris Petalas.

What brings you to Athens? What's the occasion of the "Forthcoming exhibition at Space52?

I’ve been travelling to Athens from Hong Kong on a regular basis over the past two years—initially, to set up a business that didn’t materialise. This non-event however was the catalyst that brought me to Athens, which has given me an incredible sense of belonging.

I had an epiphany that Athens is my spiritual home, and soon it is to become my physical home, having decided to plant myself here on a more permanent basis. Currently, I’m working on restoring a 1930’s building to its former glory for a multi-purpose use, which makes me feel that I’ve come full circle. Having migrated from Greece to Cyprus hundreds of years ago, my ancestors immigrated to the US and UK in the early 20th century where I was born. And now I return after so many generations…

My involvement as curator of the ‘Forthcoming’ exhibition at Space 52 is a result of my being approached by my dear friend and artist Dionisis Christofilogiannis along with artist Georgia Kotrestos. It’s an honour to be a part of this exhibition that was met with such enthusiasm by the participating artists. The main thrust of this show is to have artists develop works which are a departure from their usual style, to go beyond and experiment in search of new artistic forms and expression. These often very personal and intimate works can be considered a prelude to something much bigger, depending on the reaction of the audience. Selecting the works and curating is often a challenge to create a synergy between different artistic forms. Space52 is a wonderful venue to work but what’s really important here is that it has been created by artists for artists, a really humble and fantastic achievement on their behalf.

Let's talk about personal journey, from London to Hong Kong and now Athens. Talk to us about your personal map and the way in which you combine your interests in each city?

My journey from London to Hong Kong goes back to 1994 while living in Notting Hill, managing First Floor, London’s trendiest restaurant at that time. Graduating with a degree in English Literature a couple of years earlier, and having taken a post-grad in publishing, the UK was just coming out of recession in the early 90’s and there wasn’t any work to be had in publishing. My life-long friend, Nicky returned from a trip to Asia, and compelled me to quit my job on the spot, which I did. We headed to Hong Kong, arriving two months later, completely penniless. Six weeks later, I landed a job in publishing after hounding the boss until he relented. Thereafter joining Turner Broadcasting, programing cartoons and classic movies that seriously piqued my interest in film. After a stint with journalism at CNN, I settled on a career in advertising for 10 years. Disillusioned with the corporate world, I set up a design and lifestyle business called Faux in 2006, which became a huge success. Our Artists’ Editions division was formed a couple of years later, which today is thriving. After writing a few screenplays, I decided to make film as it would allow me to combine my education, entire skillset and experience gained over the past 30 years and express myself as a writer, visual thinker and storyteller. Currently based in Hong Kong, I will split my time between Europe and Asia.

It’s not really about where you are that counts, it’s what you do and your attitude to life that really matters. My inspiration stems from a constant yearning to experience something new, to seek adventure and to learn, to face my fears and trepidation on a daily basis, take risks, to survive and find a way to succeed. For me it’s not about giving up one thing to create another. It’s about constantly building on foundations to give greater purpose that can make a real difference to others. For me, this manifests in the need to create or transform or to be disruptive, hopefully for the better. Whether it’s writing an article or script, developing an advertising campaign or branding a product, initiating a handwoven rug or designing a ceramics collection; making a film, restoring a building or hosting a dinner party, it’s the ability to tell the story behind what you’re doing that connects and engages an audience, which will always be my first and final love.

You wear many hats, that of the filmmaker, entrepreneur, TV host, curator how does each role inform the next?

Wearing many hats I guess stems from my unquenchable thirst for new experiences and new challenges. Often one experience does not always inform the next. If it does great, but on many occasions I’ve simply thrown myself into the great unknown, which both scares and excites me. I don’t allow the word failure to enter my vocabulary or take no for an answer.

My work often involves undertaking multiple vocations on many different levels, simultaneously to get things done. I think of myself like a conductor surrounded by a vertical garden that requires constant nurturing. I’m always trying to be prolific no matter how varied and unrelated the tasks may seem. These seemingly unrelated dots will ultimately connect at some point. We are taught that we should only do one thing or have one vocation. We’ve all been raised in a binary world of pathological conditioning but this doesn’t prepare anyone for the new gig economy. And to progress, we need to ensure our ideas and work are considered to align economic progress with a strong cultural identity that has integrity.

Next week you have a screening of your latest film, how important is fiction and story telling when one speaks about politics and history?

'When The Sun Rises’, is a historical drama set against the Hong Kong Handover in 1997. A human story with fairytale elements, it can be considered as a myth of origin, a fictional tale that’s imbedded in a ‘real’ historical moment in time. The main focus or intention of this movie is to engage the audience on an emotional level through the art of storytelling. The historical and political backdrop is a dramatic vehicle to give credence to the situation the characters find themselves caught up in. And it exposes audiences to a period they may not ordinarily be drawn to through the vehicle of entertainment. So, I guess in that respect the storyteller has a responsibility to convey a sense of accuracy to his work.

What is up next? Next trip, next project, next big dream?

The next project is to restore a beautiful art-deco building in Exarcheia, Athens for multi-purpose use that will also house artist-in-residence programs for locals and overseas artists to engage and find a space to practice their art in a fertile environment that supports and allows them to thrive. There will also be workshops, apartments, a gallery. I’m also working on a lifestyle show in Hong Kong called “In Good Taste” which should come to fruition soon. There’s also talk of a TV drama series for Netflix, and another film…

What soundtrack would you add over Athens, if that was ever an option?

'Never on a Sunday' sung by Melina Merkouri, and 'Night Birds' by Shakatak, both timeless classics in my opinion which hold meaning to this city.

The exhibition Forthcoming curated by Louis Papachristou continues at Space52 through 10 March. You can combine your visit with our und. Athens map route no.1.