As we go through the so-called “end of the crisis”, as part of what the everyday political jargon has termed “success story”, the “glory” of Greek tourism re-emerges. We are bombarded again by unbearable stereotypes and mockeries – “sea, sex and sun”, “live your myth in Greece” and the like. The ridiculous and the kitsch are now operating together with phrases such as “revisiting the few and the necessary”, pseudo-identities (who is “we, them and the others”?), neoliberal narratives on “the international, modernization and the universal”, all of the above presented as undoubted categories, supposedly lacking any ideological charge. A type of asceticism is often proposed here, one that is not considered a collective political narrative, but an exercise of domination over bodies, habits and practices of the multitude. Instead, it constitutes a coercive asceticism deriving from poverty imposed by the mechanisms of power, a strategy par excellence against any kind of pleasure, definite use of the commons, and against any possibility of collective symbiosis; in opposition to any interruption and self-negation of forms of life.
Any good intentions, the simplicity of a presentation, everyone’s sincere or honest position are compressed by reality itself. There are too many coincidences. The proposal of the Greek participation in the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale coincides with the submission of an official proposal by the government that drastically revises the current legislation regarding coastal development and any relevant or permitted construction. That would not only allow for the unprecedented takeover of public land by the private sector, but moreover for the profound transformation of the Greek landscape, as we know it. The government proceeded to a temporary suspension of the bill, which has been seen a tactical electoral move during the recent European Elections.
Among the supporters of the Greek participation at the Venice Biennale, one cannot but notice the presence of large tourist and real estate companies, the ones of the kind that would become “the motors of development of the Greek economy” in this new phase. Architecture, instead of a spatial and therefore profoundly political agency, is reduced to a mere pathetic instrument. How can someone avoid self-humiliation?
We refused to design a hotel or any typical, coastal tourist accommodation. Instead, we design for ourselves, for those – known or unknown friends – who every summer use the Greek landscape collectively, without bosses and against ownership. This assumes an alternative way of living and shared understanding of life, the common and the necessary. Ultimately, we seek to express spatially the pleasure deriving from an even temporary interruption of the exploitation cycle that is imposed by contemporary regimes of labour.
We are not interested in any utopia or in any critique per se. We aim to expose potentiality itself as a key political power. What if our alternative law could exist – who and what could be the subject and the method of design? How a beach in “the middle of nowhere” could be occupied in a different way? The purpose of any act of design today should be an inquiry into strategies of expropriation and common use.