AAO series of actions and events under the title of Ethics / Aesthetics manifests itself through exhibitions, interdisciplinary international conferences, workshops and various actions and events that utilize pioneering means in order to build up an ecological and social conscience. The exhibitions and the parallel events are organized on a cross-disciplinary basis employing diverse cooperative groups that consist of specialists from the fields of architecture, design and art. Through the pioneering and internationally celebrated creations, various expressions of social commitment, ecological conscience and environmental protection are brought forward.

AAO commenced its activities in January 2011 with a first international conference at the Amphitheater of the Athens School of Fine Arts (19 & 20 January 2011), five academic workshops and performance-actions (Spring 2011), a second international conference at the amphitheater of the Benaki Museum, Pireos Street Annex (6 & 7 June 2011), and one main and two parallel exhibitions at the groundfloor gallery of Benaki Museum, Pireos Street Annex (8 June – 31 July 2011). The exhibition Ecosmosis, at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre (29 May 30 – 30 June 2012), brings to a close the Against All Odds series of actions and events under the title Ethics/Aesthetics.

29 May – 30 June 2012
Ecosmosis exhibition
Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre
Pireos Street254, Tavros, Athens

Ecosmosis exhibition is a highly original interactive art environment that aims at informing and sensitizing the public about ecological design in both building and landscape architecture by taking into account the climatic and cultural particularities in Greece.

The concept of Ecosmosis is by Lina Stergiou and its creation in collaboration with the digital media artist Maurice Benayoun. The interactive environment, Osmotic World, is created by Maurice Benayoun in cooperation with the interactive arts group THIS.PLAY a.k.a. Antoni Rayzhekoff & Emanuel Andel.

The content of Ecosmosis form eight video projections presenting seven noteworthy ecological design projects in Greece by the architecture and landscape design firms:

Alexandros Bofilias
C.R.E.S. – Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving
dARCHstudio Elina Drossou
Solon Xenopoulos Eleni Hadjinicolaou Architects
elandscape – H. Pangalou & Associates, with
Kokkinou + Kourkoulas Αrchitects & Associates
and a video projection about Recycling Appliances created by the digital artist Antonis Kourkoulos.

29 May 2012
Absolut Athens Think-Tank Awards
Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre
Pireos Street254, Tavros, Athens

The special event Absolut Athens Think-Tank Awards, an Absolut Vodka initiative that, under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency of the Municipality of Athens, honors the Greek and international teachers and students that participated in the five AAO academic workshops in Spring 2011.

8 June –
31 July 2011
Ethics/Aesthetics Main exhibition
Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens
The main exhibition Ethics / Aesthetics features progressive and innovative works which appropriate diverse strategies in order to express voluntary social engagement, ecological awareness, and the need to protect the environment.

The exhibition presents the work of 20 internationally celebrated architects, designers and artists from Europe, Asia and the United States focusing on the idea of materializing a better world. These works are the outcome of a series of advanced cooperation networks and they represent what is called today environmentally and socially responsible micro- and macro-environments. They function as a link between artistic creation and the foundations of society since they employ practices that support social structure by reversing the traditional hierarchy and adopting a bottom-up process of design and collective actions.

The works employ a diversity of strategies with a view to create sustainable environments and support the social structure. They use bottom-up methods by employing participatory design, while the teams engaged in the projects are characterized by an interdisciplinary and open approach.

The main exhibition consists of the following thematic groups:

Activism. Groups with vision
Pursuing whatever combination of means is available, the projects of this category activate strategies that go beyond the disciplinary confines so as to achieve enduring change within a given framework. They rise above innovations in form, materials or technology to include complex and sophisticated tactics to address the complexity of contemporary social, political, and environmental challenges. Participatory/bottom-up design, discursive exchange and negotiation are vital components, and formal aspects may become entirely relegated.

TEDDY CRUZ, USA, architects
REBAR, USA, designers/ artists

Society & Aesthetics
By immobilizing innovative strategies, these projects address pressing urban, social and environmental issues and at the same time keep a distinctive aesthetic language, either in their implementation or dissemination as installations in gallery spaces. Furthermore, design with its established languages, by having a sanitizing effect, is here employed to tackle issues of social inclusion.

RECETAS URBANAS, Spain, architects
WORLDBIKE, USA, designer
PPT_TLab, Greece, architect

Identity. Professional Ethics
Fuelled by a spreading preoccupation with the environment and other social and political issues, here design is valued for its economy, simplicity, and sensibility. Designers have embraced this intellectual exercise and produced objects that are durable, reusable, with apparent modesty, that makes them emblematic of what political correctness in design might be. These objects can be named as critical design for their capacity to radiate an ethical stand through their philosophy, spatial experience and materials.

DROOG, Netherlands, designer
FRANK HAVERMANS, Netherlands, artist
ALEXANDROS TOMBAZIS, Greece, architect

Action – Reaction
The fourth section presents the work of pioneering architects, designers and artists whose original work –either objects or spaces– augments critical resistance and forms types of negation. By incorporating the alienating gesture of subversion these works retain their environmental concerns as well as disrupt daily habits.

DO-HO SUH, Korea, artist
EELKO MOORER, UK/Netherlands, designer
JODI, Netherlands/Belgium, artists

All projects included in the main exhibition employ sophisticated and innovative action mechanisms in order to show that change can indeed be implemented. However, the way of implementing change varies. While in the first three thematic groups projects embrace actions of a positivist mode, the works exhibited in the fourth group are characterized by a reactionary approach and manifest diverse types of negation and criticism. Common among all works is nonetheless a fascinating way of interlocking ethics –as vision to an improved society– and aesthetics –as the apparent manifestation of this vision– in new astonishing ways.

Slow Down Rooms Parallel exhibition
Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens
This parallel exhibition, curated by Iris Kritikou, presents site-specific installations of Greek emerging artists who explore various materials through the philosophy of recycling and hand-made process.

‘The idea of an exhibition proposal regarding the designing, creating and staging of independent ‘artists rooms’, as part of and communicant locus with a larger architectural exhibition, is focusing on the improvised aspects – both the stereotypes as well as the moving poetics of a three-dimensional space which can be both approached and organically reconstructed with the aid of alternative plastic media as well as further unexpected material additions. Color, gesso, recycled or handmade paper, garbage and dust, weaving and sewing techniques, use of food condiments and natural fibres, mirror and photographic fragments create new spaces within the larger exhibition environment. Six independent artists rooms are scheduled, each one created and signed by a different artist or in collaboration, by two or more artists.” Iris Kritikou

Marios Angelos Voutsinas
Penny Gheka & Apostolos Papageorgiou
Georgia Gremouti
Vangelis Theodoridis
Eleni Karayanni
Panos Kombis
Elena Papadimitriou
Christos Simatos
Dimitris Skouroyannis
Amalia Stavroulaki

Athens Here and Now
Parallel exhibition
Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens
This parallel exhibition presents with five installations the outcome of the five respective academic workshops described above that dealt with current pressing urban and social issues in the city of Athens as well as with the documentation of the respective urban action (Athens Here and Now) that took place in the historic center of Athens on 9, 10 and 11 May. Curators and designers of the installations are the instructors and participants of each workshop alike.

Parsons The New School for Design, New York
National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture
University of Thessaly, Department of Architecture
The Athens School of Fine Arts, Postgraduate Program on Digital Art Media
Université de Paris 8, CITU Research of Paragraph Laboratory

Monday 6 & Tuesday 7 June 2011
Conference II

Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens

The second conference takes place on the 6 and 7 of June 2011 at the Benaki Museum Amphitheater, Pireos Annex. Twelve internationally acclaimed participants in the AAO project are in Athens to illuminate the implemented strategies, the means and specific goals of their projects.

Conference timetable:
Monday,6 June 2011
16:30 Enrolment
17:00 Official opening of conference
Inaugural addresses
17:20 Lina Stergiou
17:30 Cameron Sinclair/Architecture for Humanity
18:00 John Peterson/Public Architecture
18:30 Santiago Cirugeda/Recetas Urbanas
19:00 Annie Platanioti/Alexandros Tombazis Architects
20: 30 Official opening of the AAO project: Ethics/Aesthetics exhibition

Tuesday,7 June 2011
16:30 Enrolment
17:00 Mauricio Corbalan & Teddy Cruz
17:30 Ross Evans/Worldbike
18: 00 Matt Passmore & Teresa Aguilera/Rebar
18:30 Corinne Matesich/Futurefarmers
19:00 Eelko Moorer
19:30 Joan Heemskerk & Dirk Paesmans/Jodi
Moderator: Lina Stergiou, Concept-Curator at large of AAO

March – June 2011

Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens, at public spaces in Athens within the
framework of Athens Art week, 9-15 May 2011, and at the Futur En Seine Festival, Paris, 17-26 June 201

The performance-actions comprise a series of initiatives. Among them,

Athina, Situazioni Urbane: a series of actions in the center of Athens by Network Nomadic Architecture, Athens.
Athens Here and Now: projects from the AAO workshop with Université Paris 8, CΙTU research center of Paragraphe Laboratory and projects from the AAO workshop with the Athens School of Fine Arts, Master in Digital Arts (video art and interactive art) are projected on public and private buildings in the historical center of Athems thus creating a social and urban narrative juxtaposed to the historic layer of the city. The video projections and interactive art was complemented by the urban actions by 3///3…three walls on Wednesdays by Blanka Amezkua. Athens Here and Now took place on 9,10,11 May in the framework of Athens Art Week, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
COMMONspace by Rebar, San Francisco: an experimental project to map, explore and evaluate the cities’ privately-owned public open spaces coordinated by the AAO project.

The performance-actions keep the AAO project interrelated with its audience and steadfastly in an interactive association with the Athenian urban and social landscape.

February – May 2011
Academic workshops

AAO academic workshops employ diverse collaboration models with international and Greek universities. Different aspects of the AAO: Ethics/Aesthetics subject will be examined and implemented.

The main parameters of the AAO philosophy dealt with during the workshops are that the outcome should be realistic and applicable, it should be immediately useful to society, and address an ‘urgent’ issue. The workshops aim to develop dialogue, critical thinking, creation and open hands-on process among young people, teachers, associations and institutions.

The workshops aim to support environmental and social actions taken by young people and develop activities that transform the younger generation into co-creators of and make them co-responsible for the urban and social environment.

The workshops focus on the urban environment, primarily that of Athens, and their outcome will either be immediately implemented by being offered to social groups or to society, or will be offered to an institution that is able to implement it immediately. They will be shown at the Benaki Museum Pireos Annex in the Athens Here and Now parallel exhibition, which will take place from 8 June to 31 July, 2011. Some of the workshops-actions within the Athens urban landscape will be part of the Athens Art Week project, organised by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 9-15 May, 2011 and a selection will be participating in the Futur En Seine Festival in Paris, 17-26 June, 2011.

The AAO workshops are five. For two of them there is an AAO open call for participation. The AAO open call for participation applies to the following workshops:

1. AAO workshop with Parsons The New School For Design, New York

Within the spring semester Greek participants worked online with students from Parsons The New School For Design New York in order to exchange ideas, opinions and information. For the online collaboration they used the ground-breaking academic platform ΑΑΟ online-Social Design Academy in order to communicate effectively by exchanging their designs, files and ideas. From 12 to 18 March, the New York students came to Athens in order to work closely with the Greek participants and create a research and action corpus in the center of Athens. Two projects/actions took place in the area of their research, Exarhia, on 17 March and were conducted with great success. The workshop process and final action will be documented and transformed into an installation comprising of video, graphics and photos, which will be exhibited from 6 June to 31 July at the Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens.

Instructors: Lydia Matthews, Michael Morris, Lina Stergiou, Radhika Subramaniam.

2. AAO workshop Université Paris 8, CΙTU research center of Paragraphe Laboratory

Within the spring semester 2011 Greek students will collaborate with students from Université Paris 8, CITU research center of Paragraphe Laboratory through the innovative Art Collider interactive platform in order to research, enrich and explore their own work as well as work on the strategic tackling of spatio-social urban issues in the urban fabric of Athens. The outcome of this workshop will be put forward for inclusion in the Athens Art Week, organised by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism from 9 to 15 May, and the Futur En Seine Festival, Paris, from 17 to 26 June, and will be exhibited from 6 June to 31 July at the Benaki Museum, Pireos Annex, Athens.

Coordinators: Maurice Benayoun, Robin Gareus, Lina Stergiou.

The final selection of the participants has been conducted by a Committee comprised of:

George Harvalias (Dean of the Athens School of Fine Arts)
Spyros Raftopoulos (Head of the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens)
Lina Stergiou (Architect, Curator at large of the AAO project).

Other AAO workshops are:

3. National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture

Coordinators: Konstantinos Moraitis, Yiannos Grigoriadis, Georgia Gkoumopoulou, Maria Vorreakou

4. University of Thessaly, Department of Architecture

Coordinators: Nadia Kalara, Maria Papademitriou, Lois Papadopoulos, Giorgos Tzirtzilakis

5. Athens School of Fine Arts, Master in Digital Arts

Coordinators: Vicky Betsou, Lina Stergiou

Wednesday 19 & Thursday 20 January 2011
Conference I

Athens School of Fine Arts, Amphitheater
The first conference, entitled Ethics / Aesthetics, will take place on 19 & 20 January 2011 at the amphitheater of the Athens School of Fine Arts (256 Pireos St., Athens). An interesting debate on the spatial translations of ethics and aesthetics and the critical role of new spatial practices within the current social, political and environmental context will become the focal point of the presentations and round-table discussions of the first conference. The ethics-aesthetics relationship will be examined through the interface of different fields and disciplines, including philosophy, aesthetic theories, sociology and the sociology of professions, curatorial practices and topology. The conference will focus on the following topical issues:

(an interdisciplinary approach): in what ways and to what extent ethics and aesthetics interact

(an interdisciplinary approach): in what ways ethics can be expressed through the form of aesthetics

(an approach from the point of view of architecture): commitments/risks – in what ways ethics can transform the established ideological principles of architecture

(an approach from the point of view of architecture): the métier of an architect – ethics, sanitizing effects

Participants will be internationally acclaimed personalities from the fields of architecture, design, art, sociology and philosophy (USA, Europe, Greece).

Maurice Benayoun, Professor, co-founder and Artistic Director of the CITU research center of Paragraphe Laboratory at Université Paris 8, new media artist; Ole Bouman, General Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi), Rotterdam; David Cottington, Professor of History of Modern Art and Director of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University London, noted historian of Cubism; Lydia Matthews, Dean of Academic Programs and Professor of Visual Culture, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, art critic and curator of contemporary art; Konstantinos Moraitis, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens; Lina Stergiou, Architect, Educator, Writer, Curator at large of AAO project; Maria Theodorou, architect (PhD), head of the non-profit organization SARCHA ‘School for ARCHitecture 4 All’; and Jilly Traganou, Director of Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Design Studies – History and Theory, Parsons The New School for Design, New York.

Lois Papadopoulos, Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly, and Nikos Xydakis, Editor-in-chief, Kathimerini newspaper, journalist, critic and author.

Maurice Benayoun has chosen to elaborate on his concept of ArtCollider: how new forms of art are encouraged through the process of sharing. Ole Bouman will focus on the Architecture of Consequence, the architectural profession on an international level, its ethical pursuits and sanitizing effects. David Cottington will discuss the interrelations among the formation of the Avant-garde in early 20th century Paris, the professional artist and the aesthetic notions of the era. Lydia Matthews will use cross-disciplinary models (Design, Handicraft, Social Practices) to trigger a dialogue on the innovative forms of social interaction. Konstantinos Moraitis will discuss the philosophical and aesthetic theories perspective of ethics and aesthetics. Lina Stergiou will uncover the pragmatic aspects of creative activism: it’s vital function within Architecture and the current economic realities. Maria Theodorou will make a critical approach of the Ethics of Empowerment mainly in relation to architecture, but also of the current –so called– ‘ethics turn’ in order to open up architecture’s potential within the conditions of economic crisis. Jilly Traganou will talk about the role of design ethics in relation to immigration and the collective engagement for the creation of postnational identities.

Conference timetable:

Wednesday 19 January 2011

17:30 Registration
Coordinator: Nikos Xydakis
18:00 Conference Opening Welcome Remarks
18:30 Lina Stergiou
18:45 Ole Bouman
Architecture of Consequence
19:15 Jilly Traganou
Practices of Deterritorialization Towards Post-national Imaginings: Conjoining Aesthetics and Ethics in Design
Discussion Reception

Thursday 20 January 2011

Coordinator: Lois Papadopoulos
18:00 Konstantinos Moraitis Aesthetics and Ethics: the impossible dissociation. The case of the bilateral landscape evaluation
18:30 David Cottington The Formation of the Avant-Garde: Professionalism, Aesthetic Position-Taking and Modernist Ethics
19:00 Lina Stergiou Bottom-up, left and right: Vocational Ethics, Creative Activism
19:30 Lydia Matthews From the Ground Up: Designing Provotypes for Sustainable Economies, a Collaborative Hands-on Approach
20:00 Maurice Benayoun ArtCollider: Towards Transactional Aesthetics
20:30 Maria Theodorou Architecture and Economy: the Ethics of Empowerment
Discussion Reception