For the Onassis Festival 2019: Democracy is Coming presented by The Public Theater and Onassis USA, artist Kostis Velonis has created a new public art piece to be displayed at Astor Place, titled Life Without Tragedy.
The artwork consists of three sculptures—constructed of wood–that mimic an ancient Greek amphitheater.
In Life Without Tragedy, Kostis Velonis’ interest in democracy encounters ancient Greek tragedy. The amphitheater is a space for the promotion of political discussions. Theatrical performances were, in the Athenian democracy, deeply rooted in the polity and its institutions.
The actors and the members of the chorus were citizens, while the gathering in the theater functioned as an ecclesia (assembly of the citizens). The theater, although it was established during the period of the tyrants, is considered as a progeny of democracy, since it flourished in parallel with the democratic system of government. Democracy would liberate ancient Greek tragedy from its religious nature, giving it a direct anthropocentric and political character.
Within the theater, the Athenians exercised in the debate of ideas, dialogue and communication. Velonis identifies the notion of democracy with Greek tragedy, since the theater in ancient Greece was not only a form of art, but also a social institution. The artwork consists of three sculptures—constructed of wood–that mimic an ancient Greek amphitheater.
Life Without Tragedy will be on free view at the Astor Place South Plaza from April 10-30, and is presented in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program and The Village Alliance.
About the Artist
Kostis Velonis (born 1968) is an artist known for exploring the dystopia of unrealized Modernist and avant-garde projects.
His sculptures, paintings, and large-scale installations are best characterized as craft-based compositions that construct allegories from the complex relations of history, class, identity, and the conflicts of the human soul.
Velonis holds an MRes in Humanities and Cultural Studies from London Consortium (Birkbeck College, ICA, AA, Tate). He studied Arts Plastiques/ Esthétiques at Université Paris 8 (D.E.A) and he earned his PhD from the Department of Architecture, N.T.U.A University of Athens.