Two exhibitions for Iannis Xenakis

The largest exhibition presentation on Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) internationally, consisting of two separate exhibitions, will be hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art from Thursday 29 June 2023 to Sunday 7 January 2024.

Iannis Xenakis in Persepolis Shiraz Festival Iran 1971 | © Malie Letrange

The museum opens its doors to Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), one of the most important creators of the 20th century, whose multi-level and radical work paved new paths for 21st-century culture. In collaboration with leading musical institutions from Xenakis' homelands, the Musée de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris in France, and the Athens Conservatory and the Centre for Contemporary Music Research (CSYME) in Greece, the EMST is organizing the largest international exhibition presenting Xenakis' work.

The exhibition "Iannis Xenakis: Sonic Odysseys" is the first comprehensive major exhibition in Greece dedicated to the pioneering composer, music theorist, architect, engineer, mathematician, and one of the most progressive and creative thinkers of the second half of the 20th century. During the 1950s, Xenakis broke the codes of contemporary music and created a musical genre entirely his own. His music, immediately recognized yet in a constant state of reinvention and revolution, references Antiquity, pays tribute to nature and its elements, embraces extreme modernism, and envisions the use of technology. Although his work is widely recognized internationally, it has not been deeply presented in Greece until now. Xenakis was a pioneer in the use of mathematical models in music, including game theory. He continues to be one of the leading international influences in the development of electronic music and computer music composition. The exhibition showcases original material from the various layers of Iannis Xenakis' irrepressible creativity, including photographs, architectural drawings, illustrative scores, models, and unpublished audio material. Divided into six sections, the "Sound Odysseys" exhibition focuses on the most important and unconventional aspects of his work, shedding light on his personal history, as well as his visual, literary, and musical production. It situates the composer within his time and the political and cultural movements that defined him as an artist. The visitor is invited to immerse themselves in the turbulent personal history of Iannis Xenakis, discover the breadth of his work and interests, and travel through his unique and multidimensional universe within a specially designed space by Eva Manidakis and Thanasis Demiris (Flux Office). The exhibition is a co-production of the EMST and the Musée de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris.

At the same time, the EMST presents a new production, the exhibition "Xenakis and Greece," on the 3rd floor of the Museum. This exhibition is a collaboration with the Athens Conservatory and the Centre for Contemporary Music Research (CSYME), which was founded by Ioannis Xenakis himself and is housed at the Athens Conservatory. It delves into Xenakis' complex and troubled relationship with his home country, from his years in France after receiving a death sentence to his eventual return to Greece after 27 years of self-exile and his rise to fame. Through a wealth of archival material, photographs, and letters, the exhibition documents various aspects of the vibrant musical life in Greece during the 1960s and 1970s, highlighting the initiatives that promoted the musical avant-garde and supported contemporary composers. It also explores Xenakis' return to Greece and the organization of his significant Greek works, such as the Polytopos of Mycenae.

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