Crafts of the Sea: Athens

4 July – 21 September 2024

Screening I & Opening Reception: July 4, 20:30
Screening II: September 11, 20:30

Goethe-Institut Athen
14-16 Omirou, Athens

Curation: Maurizio Borriello and Jacob Moe
Production: Archipelago Network

in collaboration with
the Goethe-Institut Athen

with the support of the Costas M. Lemos Foundation, Goethe-Institut Athen, and Archipelago Network’s benefactors’ circle

Amorgos, Koufonisia, Paros, Santorini, and Syros. Five islands interconnected by the Aegean sea and Cycladic culture.

For the first time in Athens, Archipelago Network presents the rich and multifaceted maritime traditions of the Cyclades through the multimedia exhibition Crafts of the Sea, held from July 4 to September 21 at the Goethe-Institut Athen. The exhibition traces interconnections between these maritime communities of past and present, through archival material and contemporary photographic, sonic, and audiovisual documentation.

Today, the Aegean Islands are at a tipping point: degradation of natural resources and destruction of cultural heritage, both compounded by uncontrolled touristic development, pose imminent threats to the region. Government-sponsored subsidies initiated to prevent overfishing have led to the destruction of the majority of traditional wooden boats since the 2000s; at the same time, coastal fishing communities are dwindling, while the spread of alien fish species, warming sea temperatures, and overfishing has caused a dramatic decline in fish stocks. As society and environment undergo these accelerating changes, new models for cultural and environmental action are needed.  

Highlighting the concurrent value and precarity of wooden boatbuilding, fishing, and seafaring communities in the region, the exhibition Crafts of the Sea in Athens invites the public to reorient their senses towards a future seen with, and from, the sea. Visitors will encounter a universe of objects, landscapes, boats and portraits spanning locations such as the “Tarsanas” boatyard in Syros, Ai-Giannis bay in Paros, the Armeni boatyard of Santorini, and the fishing harbors of Amorgos and Koufonisia. The exhibition also features historic materials from the Historical Folklore Museum of Naoussa (Othon Kaparis Collection) in Paros and various private collections from Syros, Amorgos, and Santorini.

Audiovisual and photographic archival installations conceived by documentarist Jacob Moe highlight the mutable character of the historical archive, while documentary photographs by ethnographer and boatbuilder Maurizio Borriello reframe the boatyards and marine environments of the Cyclades as future resources of resources of technical and experiential intelligence.

As part of the exhibition, a two-part screening series takes place on July 4 and September 11, presenting archival, ethnographic, and narrative short films resonating with maritime communities in Greece and beyond.

Crafts of the Sea is an exhibition series held in Amorgos and Athens. It is curated by Maurizio Borriello and Jacob More, and presented by Archipelago Network and Goethe-Institut Athen, with the support of the Costas M. Lemos Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Athen, and Archipelago Network’s circle of benefactors.

Through a grassroots approach to sourcing and preserving community heritage, the Crafts of the Sea exhibition series celebrates less tangible and monumental forms of maritime culture and contemporary boatbuilding, fishing and seafaring communities of Amorgos, Koufonisia Paros, Santorini, and Syros. Via archival material, documentary photography, sound collages, and documentary shorts, Crafts of the Sea advocates for their continued relevance and existence in the years to come.

Both the historical archival material and contemporary audiovisual documentation are the result of on-site research conducted by Archipelago Network throughout 2023-24 as part of the Maritime Trades of the Cyclades project, also presented on the organization’s online platform as an interactive digital map.