The evocative installation titled “Life Without Tragedy” Greek artist Kostis Velonis created for the “Onassis Festival 2019: Democracy is coming”, is currently on show at Governors Island in New York, until October 31st.
“Life Without Tragedy” explores the intersection between democracy and theater; Greece’s two major contributions to the development of civilization. The work consists of three wooden sculptures that mimic an ancient Greek amphitheater, a place that was a social institution and a site for political discourse as well as a venue for art.
The Greek amphitheater is a phenomenon and physical space rich with political, democratic importance. In the Athenian democracy, the theatrical performances were deeply rooted in the polity and its institutions. The actors and members of the chorus were citizens, and a gathering in the theater functioned as an ecclesia (an assembly of the citizens). The theater, although it was established during the period of the tyrants, became a site of democracy, as it flourished in parallel with the democratic system of government. Democracy liberated ancient Greek tragedy from its religious nature, giving it a more anthropocentric and political character. And within the theater, Athenians participated in dialogue and debate about ideas.
“Life Without Tragedy” is a practical example of Onassis USA’s evolution into an important contemporary producer and presenter of arts-and-ideas programs that substantially contribute to timely national and international conversations.
“Life Without Tragedy” is on show at Picnic Point, located on the southern tip of the island. The Governors Island is open daily until 31 October.