Liquid Antiquity Workshop held at Princeton Athens Center

Jan. 15, 2018

In September, a group of classicists, poets, archaeologists, curators, and artists gathered in Athens for a workshop on the multimedia project “Liquid Antiquity.” The workshop was organized by Brooke Holmes, Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics at Princeton; Dimitri Gondicas ’78, Director of the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton; and Polina Kosmadaki, Benaki Museum curator.

Commissioned by the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art in cooperation with the Benaki Museum, “Liquid Antiquity” challenges the prevailing view of classicism as static. Rather than displaying antiquities and collected objects, the project emphasizes the intersection of modern art and antiquity through text, images and video from multiple perspectives. By conveying both the classical and contemporary aspects of antiquity, “Liquid Antiquity” encourages us to consider why antiquity matters, and through these considerations, helps us see new possibilities for the present.

These themes were discussed in detail at the Liquid Antiquity workshop, which was held at the Princeton Athens Center. “The workshop expresses the letter and the spirit of Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund’s mission, which is: ‘to advance the understanding of the culture of ancient Greece and its influence…and to stimulate creative expression and thought in and about modern Greece.’” said Gondicas. It is apropos, then, that this quote is featured at the entrance of the Princeton Athens Center.

“The Center, intimate and welcoming, offered an ideal environment to incubate intellectual and creative cooperation between scholars and artists working in Princeton and in Greece,” Holmes said. “The group together extended the project’s experiment with new forms of engaging a broad public in thinking about classical antiquity and its legacies and laid the groundwork for further collaboration.”

Kosmadaki echoed this view: “It was a very stimulating conversation with a variety of viewpoints— Greek and foreign, artistic and academic, classicists and contemporaneists— which managed to overcome traditional dialogue for a more experimental outcome, where the coexistence of artistic performance, academic discourse and critical response to current issues created an environment for radically rethinking the context, language and methods of considering the classical heritage.”

This spring, the video installation component of “Liquid Antiquity,” designed by Diller, Scofido + Renfro, will be traveling to London as part of the exhibition “The Classical Now.” The exhibition, curated by Michael Squire, pairs the work of modern artists with Greek and Roman antiquities, and will be on view at Kings College London from March 2-April 28, 2018.

A follow-up session of the Liquid Antiquity workshop is planned for summer 2018.