Art professor to stage 'exercise of freedom' at former military police headquarters in Greece at Documenta 14

beth-stephens-annie-water-400.jpg
UC Santa Cruz art professor Elizabeth Stephens (right) with her artistic collaborator Annie Sprinkle
UC Santa Cruz art professor and multimedia artist Elizabeth Stephens and her artistic collaborator Annie Sprinkle will participate this weekend in Documenta 14--one of the most prestigious art exhibitions in Europe.

Stephens and Sprinkle are creating a water performance in an effort to help cleanse a former police station of some of its violent history surrounding events that happened there during Greece’s fascist period.

In a late night email from Athens, Greece, Stephens described what she and Sprinkle will be doing at the public program that takes place Friday night at the Athens Municipality Arts Center at Parko Eleftherias.

“This portion of Documenta 14’s program is entitled, The Parliament of Bodies and consists of ‘34 Exercises in Freedom’,” said Stephens. ”The understanding of freedom here is premised on Michel Foucault’s notion that freedom is never a given, a natural state of being, or an automatic right; freedom is a practice. Like all practices, freedom must be exercised on a regular basis, so Paul B. Preciado, the curator of Public Programs, titled the acts in this program as a series of numbered exercises.”

“Our exercise is #25,” she added. “We will be giving an hour-long lecture about our collaborative work titled Post-Porn Activism and Ecosexual Freedom. Then we are going to perform a collaborative ritual with 8 to12 artists and the public that shows our love and respect for water, as well as our concern for the well-being of H2O--the substance which allows life to flourish on Earth.”

Titled the “Wet Dreams Water Ritual,” the event is billed as “an invitation to partake of the pleasures and perils of water--in collaboration with local artists, activists, musicians, sex workers, refugees and other humans and non-humans.”

Since its inception in 1955, the city of Kassel in Germany has been the host of Documenta, which takes place every five years and features artists and cultural practitioners from around the globe. This year for the first time, Documenta 14 will take place in Athens, Greece, during 2016, and then in 2017 it will continue at its more traditional location in Germany.

“We are thrilled,” Stephens noted. “ An invitation to be in Documenta is one of the most significant honors that an artist can receive.”