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A fearless residency – AMA HOUSE on the island of Spetses
Learn about this unique residency on a small greek island. Art, Sunshine and Sisterhood.
Around the Globe 08 Sep 2023

 I was sitting in a boat-turned-garden bench, complete with a little life preserver taken from a ship called fearless or without terror Ατρόμητος in Greek, on the small, nearly car-less island of Spetses, when I started typing this. I was listening to Maria Callas’s “La Traviata Act 1” at that moment because I am cheesy like that and I remembered that my first knowledge of Greece as a place was my classical music enthusiast father showing me on the map where Greece was and that the woman with the stunning voice hailed from there. I also found the cover with the overexposed portrait – all eyes and lipstick quite fascinating. Years later my group of friends discovered the Greek restaurants in my hometown, and copious amounts of ouzo were consumed – I must say I was quite relieved when my recent and first-ever visit to this magical place did not include flying paper napkins, not a drop of ouzo or anyone dancing on tables.

Agata Ingarden_Sleeping Beauty Corp_2022_ bronze,galvanized steel, coper,wire, wheels, instrument strings, bolts, metal engraved plate,brass, glass, marble_166x79x110 cm (7)

Spetses (I could not verify if Maria Callas ever visited – she was also born in NY btw), an island of a sweet 22,2 km² in size, relatively easy to reach via a scenic drive and a short speed boat ride from Athens and hence a favorite of the city folks for a summer escape. Immortalized by John Fowles who came to the island as an English teacher at the – modeled after Eton – boys boarding school,  who ended up writing his celebrated novel “Magus” set there. – It sits at my desk waiting to be read.

Chloe Royer_Xenophora_Hugo et Louis_2022_Hemp_600x10cm (2)

This specific school – no longer in use – prompted my visit, indirectly. My invitation was courtesy of the AMA HOUSE residency, a young program active in its 3rd year – the brainchild of the enigmatic Anna Maria Loudarou decided that a profession in her field of education was not what she was called to do – she studied politics and international relations – or to partake in the family business of packaging materials. After stints in London in New York, which involved a whole lot of seeing art, living with art, and engaging with the respective art scenes – she set out to replicate and reinvent some of what she had seen and experienced in Greece. Artists are asked to create commissioned pieces. Part of the residency is in Athens, and most importantly most of it happens on the island of Spetses where her family has a house, which is also the site of the annual exhibition, in the exact boarding school mentioned in Fowle’s novel. The involvement of the local craftsman, tradesfolk and just anyone who wants “in” on this project/ makes sense for a specific work is very important to Loudarou (and also the reason why the show is free of charge) “Everyone on the island comes to see it” they are proud to be included and curious about what is happening, says Loudarou.

Georgia Liapi, Anna Maria Loudarou & me wfb *working from the beach 😉 

The semi-neo-classical buildings of the former Anargirios College host once a year a small but distinct show of residency artists. The selection process is invitational and due to Loudarous extensive art network, they hail from all over. In 2021 their first year, they mounted a show called “Tactile Ghost”, 2022 they created “History of Absence” with works by Agata Ingarden, Malvina Panagiotidi & Chloé Royer, curated by Elina Axioti, and this year’s edition would have been a collaboration with the celebrated curator Georgia Liapi, alas it had to be postponed to 2024. Another very AMA HOUSE decision, while art, creation, and artists are naturally at the core of this project, none of it is forced or rushed. If the circumstances demand a delay, island style, one gives in.

Malvina Panagiotidi_So that morning and evening are like promises kept_2022_ polaroids,copper,paraffin wax, pigment, wick_dimensions variable

We are excited to see this project grow and if you would like to learn more about AMA HOUSE, the works of past editions, or attend the next opening on the most charming of isles – follow them on Insta or connect via email ([email protected]).

 

Text by Anna Maja Spiess 

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