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Critical Friends – meeting in Athens

Anna Ochmann, president of the ARTeria Foundation, was invited to join the Critical Friends group. This is a group of friends that have worked with each other previously. We are a rich mix of highly experienced leaders, educators and creators and represent very specific personal and professional cultural contexts of artistic and/or educational practice. We share the belief that this diversity of cultural contexts enhances the value of the international perspective of the arts. We came together organically, and we hope to continue to grow in the same organic way, with a clear focus on greater diversity, so as to be more representative of the societies we live in. With Critical Friends the Art Futures Foundation brings together people, not institutions, from the arts (all creative, performing and design disciplines) and arts education. In times of precariousness, populism and fragmentation we want to create a space of care for one another and for society, a safe space to exchange concerns, ideas and work. We want to strengthen and empower each other with respectful, inspiring and radical conversations that open up new horizons of thought and perspectives of development. With courage and precision we can play a modest but important role in sharpening the self-image of the arts, the artists, and the impact the arts has on society. With whatever themes we identify as urgent, our projected – image as a sector and how we represent ourselves will be the point of departure for future impact.

On 6-7 October 2023, the group met in Athens, Greece. After a brief introduction about the Art Futures Fellowship Programme – an artist residency run by Critical Friends, the participants visited the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Athens (EMST) –, where they were welcomed by the director of the institution – Katerina Gregos. The EMST director Xenakis’ exhibition was shown around the group by the curator – Stella Kourbana.

The first day of the meeting was mostly devoted to the development of the group and the artist residency programme, and an important part of it was the presentation of the art of two artists who participated in the programme last year – Tami Izko and Federico Clavarino. This was followed by an introduction by Ron Burnett, with Sarah Bennet responding to his theses.

The second day was dedicated to revising and clarifying the provisions of the artist residency programme, with participants working in groups on SOLIDARITY (Anna Ochmann also participated in this group), HOSPITALITY and RESPONSIBILITY. It was agreed to include relevant provisions in the call for applications for the Art Futures Fellow 2024 artist residency.

The participants also visited the headquarters of the independent art collective Serapis and the Niarchos Foundation

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