Greek participation - 14th International Architecture Exhibition Venice Biennale 2014
Greek history and the Greek landscape jointly made up the myth of cotemporary Greece. The country's classical past and its historic and cultural continuity through the unaltered landscape defined the identity of the modern Greek state. These same elements –history and landscape– provided the foundation for Greece's entry to a new sector of economic activity that began during the country's post-War modernization period: tourism, a global industry in which Greece was to play an important role at a global scale. Tourism is by definition an extrovert activity that presupposes regular contact with the "other", being in touch with the new and adapting to it as well as a continuous (re)configuration of identity. In architectural terms, a constant remaking of the built landscape.
In the decades of the 50s and 60s, landscapes that combined natural beauty with history were selected for the construction of seaside hotels, resorts and organized beaches that could provide the necessary infrastructure for the oncoming influx of tourists. This architecture was not subordinated to preexisting cultural and formal commitments to tradition, but rather adopted the modern architectural language. An original absorption of modernity and the modern life style had taken place. In the decades that followed, the international development of the discourse of preservation of historical buildings and settlements an the arrival of post-modernity led to the imposition of morphological rules that limited design freedom. The absorption of the new condition led, to a large degree, to the iconographic redefinition of the local and the traditional as "neo-traditional" or "neo-Greek" intensifying regional or local identity. During the recent decade of opulence many elements of the international (minimalist) life-style were also incorporated. Now, at the time of crisis, glamour seems to be fading out giving its place to a more "sober" or "primary" living often based on the search for sustainability and a limited environmental footprint.
The constructed tourism landscapes constitute a constant negotiation between the local and the global, a recording of the dominant perception of our configured identity at each given time within an ever globalizing culture.
Yannis Aesopos, Commissioner/Curator of the Greek participation