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Old Tobacco Factory in Athens to be Converted into Avant-Garde Art Space

The Lenorman Street Tobacco Factory. Credit: NeonGreece/Twitter

The world-renowned Greek art foundation Neon will convert Athens’ historic Lenorman Street Tobacco Factory into a venue for a cutting-edge art exhibition called “Portals” next year.

After the exhibition ends, the venue will be handed back to the Greek state for future use as a cultural center and art space.

The exhibition and conversion of the space will tie into the bicentennial celebration of Greece’s War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

Neon will renovate half of the historic tobacco factory, built in the early twentieth century, transforming it into a space that will house a show with work by some of the world’s most prominent contemporary artists from Greece and abroad, including Michael Rackowitz, Danh Vo, and Glenn Ligon, from June to December, 2021.

The exhibition will be curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Elina Kountouri,  the director of Neon.

Credit: NeonGreece/Twitter

“Portals” will speak to today’s international political and societal upheavals, according to the organizers. “The exhibition aims to highlight how this particular moment takes us through a ‘portal,'” Kountouri stated in a press release.

“When we emerge on the other side, we will need to reaffirm — for the sake of future generations — our commitment to certain values: the rule of law, human rights and democracy. The global scale of the challenges and consequences of the pandemic make this reaffirmation imperative,” she continued.

The other half of the massive tobacco factory, which takes up an entire city block, currently houses the library of the Hellenic Parliament.

Konstaninos Tasoulas, the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, said in a statement about the ambitious project that with its show, Neon hopes “to highlight how Greece, its history, and its prospects inspire the contemporary, domestic, and international avant-garde.”

Neon, founded in 2013 by Greek billionaire and art collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos, is dedicated to bringing art to the public through providing much-needed support to groundbreaking voices in the contemporary art scene in Greece.

By partnering with private and public institutions, Neon sets up exhibitions around the country, stressing art’s presence and relevance everywhere, not just in galleries or museums.

The art foundation also supports programs in education and art appreciation to help widen the public’s interactions with contemporary art.

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