press release

Summer of Love
August 4–October 15, 2017
Opening: August 3
Curated by Katerina Gregos

Summer of Love borrows its title from the sociocultural phenomenon that took place 50 years ago in the summer of 1967. While in Europe 1968 might have more of a legendary status due to the student uprisings in Paris and the Prague "spring," 1967 was in many ways a more seminal year in terms of geopolitical, cultural and intellectual developments. It was the year of the Six-Day War, which irrevocably changed the landscape in the Middle East. In Greece it was the year that marked the beginning of the seven-year military dictatorship. Ironically, it was also the year that the UK applied for EEC membership. In the US, 1967 also saw the first major political protests against the war in Vietnam. At the same time the outburst of new popular and subcultural music was also one of the defining features of the Summer of Love. It was also a year of significant intellectual production. Critical theorist Guy Debord published his Society of the Spectacle, while the Belgian philosopher Raoul Vaneigem published the The Revolution of Everyday Life.

Summer of Love looks back to this seminal year on its 50th anniversary, drawing attention to an era when both the concept of politics and love possessed a real sense of urgency. The "Summer of Love" was one of the many expressions of the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s, an era of civil disobedience, of anti-authoritarianism, of political protest and "flower power." The exhibition reflects on the unlikely liaison of love and politics, connecting the summer of 1967 to the world in 2017, where the idea of love—in intellectual circles—is often dismissed as naïve and sentimental.

Perhaps the most interesting recent ideas advocating a different understanding of love come from the philosopher Michael Hardt (b. 1960) who advocates a political idea of love. Hardt argues that love should be expanded beyond the limits of the couple as a force that also contributes to the constitution of community. He credits love for the "collective transformation" that one experiences in certain kinds of political action. Hardt advocates a form of love that does not originate in a love based on identification with someone or something that is similar to us, but a love "that functions through the play of differences, rather than the insistence on the same."

The exhibition draws on these ideas and weaves a web of cultural and historic reference points in order to link the ideas of 50 years ago to the present European crisis point. It reflects on the legacy of "The Summer of Love," whose benefits we still reap today. It is an opportune moment to do this. 50 years have gone by; the post-war baby boomers are ageing and dying, and their youthful ideals have largely died out. We might ask: what went wrong, when and why? Should we rethink these ideals? Can we learn from the experiences and disappointments of the generation of 1967? In a world that rapidly seems regressing it is an appropriate moment to re-visit the sense of communality, openness and freedom that the Summer of Love engendered. A Greek island in the summer—Samos—is an ideal setting to think about these issues. Against the backdrop of an economic meltdown and the on-going crisis, what seem to be keeping things together are strongly forged social relations in a society that still hasn’t been totally atomized.

The exhibition features work newly commissioned as well as existing work by nine artists and one collective: Melanie Bonajo (Netherlands, 1978) / Johan Grimonprez (Belgium, 1962) / International Institute Of Social History (Est. 1935, Netherlands) / Tomomi Itakura (USA, 1976) / Mikhail Karikis (Greece/UK, 1976) / Nicolas Kozakis & Raoul Vaneigem (Belgium/Greece, 1967 & Belgium, 1934) / Marko Mäetamm (Estonia, 1965) / Marge Monko (Estonia, 1976) / Uriel Orlow (Switzerland, 1976)