Participatory action, Vistonida Lake, Komotini, Greece, 2011
Participants: Costas Canakis, Vassilis Dalkavoukis, Dr. Andrew Farrington,
Nikos Mavrelos, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Moennig, Elpida Rikou, Dr. Athena Syriatou
"What is Man?" is a work in progress which reinstates the question of the definition of the human subject. It forms part of an ongoing project, aiming to explore ways in which contemporary artworks, particularly in their relational and dialogical aspects, may provide new contexts for philosophical and scientific debates.
"Man", according to Michael Foucault, is a quite recent invention, condemned to disappear in the near future. In the present day ("western") academic reality the question "What is man?" is at the core of the so-called Humanities but in practice, attempts to provide a concrete answer are very rare. The question "What is man?" constitutes the core of the art project that Panos Sklavenitis has proposed for the annual international student conference Border Crossings. The artist poses this question to academics from different disciplines (anthropology, history, etc.) and invites each one of them to read his/her own text providing a personal approach to the question, outside of their familiar university surroundings, at Vistonida lake. The purpose of this performance is twofold: university teachers are asked to answer this question, crucial for their science (but forgotten, all the same), while the academic discourse itself is being reframed by the artist, who places this discussion outside of its usual university context. Thus, a second questioning is implied: is this discourse (which, nowadays, tends to attribute scientific status to any theory - about art, for instance) valid outside of the "academy"?
Extract from a text by Kyveli Lignou Tsamantani