Athens Polytechnic is among the oldest higher-education institutions of Greece. It is also a central symbolic and historical locus of contemporary Greek resistance. On November 14, 15, and 16, in 1973, the students of the Polytechnic barricaded themselves inside the school. There they began broadcasting a pirate-radio transmission, calling on the people of Athens to resist Greece’s military dictatorship. On the evening of November 17, an AMX-30 class military tank broke the main gate and charged inside on orders from the junta. Many people were killed in the following events, and the uprising ended, but it ushered forth the fall of the dictatorship the following year.
Three leading members of the 1973 uprising and occupation of the Polytechnic (Dionysis Mayrogenis and Giorgos Oikonomou) and the Law School (Titika Saratsi) revisited the site and shared their experiences during the first days of what documenta 14 came to call the Continuum, a term and an ethos taken from the score of Jani Christou’s 1968 Epicycle, which provided an experimental framework for working sessions between artists, curators, the documenta 14 team, and special guests leading to the formation of the public exhibition in Athens and Kassel. The process began on March 28, 2016, and has been sustained by numerous individual energies. And before it all began, the minimal but transformative renovation of the Prevelakis Hall of the Athens School of Fine Arts Rectorship was designed by architect Aristide Antonas.
In August 1933, the fourth meeting of CIAM (Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne) took place on board a ship that traveled from Marseille to Athens by way of the Aegean Islands. Among the members of the modernist avant-garde on board were Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Charlotte Perriand, and Josep Lluís Sert. Their voyage ended with a celebrated exhibition at the Athens Polytechnic, and the group drew up “The Charter of Athens,” which defined a new approach to functionalism in city planning. Inspired by these events, Rainer Oldendorf collaborates with students and professors from Athens, Thessaly, Kassel, and Besançon to challenge the original Functional City exhibition with one of their own that questions the German DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) standardizing approach to design. Also at Polytechnion are a work by Pope.L and an oak tree next to Prevelakis Hall planted by Sokol Beqiri, with branches grafted from an oak in Kassel.