History—Past—Memory—Space—Body—Image: Artists' Performative Interventions in the Refugee Houses on Alexandras Avenue, Athens


Since the mid-2000s, site-specific interventions in public space by artist collectives have become a frequent phenomenon in Athens. Less known and discussed are the earliest examples of this phenomenon. Three such performative interventions took place in the so-called refugee houses on Alexandras Avenue (construction 1933–1935), two by the group Αστικό Κενό (Urban Void) and another by Λάθος Κίνηση (Wrong Movement). They took place in 2000 and 2003, in parallel with a citizen protest againstgentrification plans for the houses' demolition. Being site-specific meant that they were intervening in the physical, architectural site, as well as in a public debate mobilized by the protest and focused mainly on the site's significance as a monument. The article argues that through the form of their interventions, the groups approached the site through the experience of the past in the present. They foregrounded the experience of time and space in the instant of their actions, in which past and present come together and dynamically interact with one another, but without offering a coherent historical narrative. This approach deviated significantly from the dominant public discourses that saw the houses primarily as markers of national, political, and social history, often characterized by selectively constructed and ideologically laden narratives of historical continuity from the 1930s to the present.