Elective Affinities

Elective Affinities is a yearlong education program within the context of the collaboration between ASFA and documenta 14.

The program, which began in October 2016, consists of regular meetings in which documenta 14 artists and team members as well as contributors to the magazine South as a State of Mind engage with the students in seminars, working sessions, public talks, and readings. Together they identify various patterns, affinities, and threads running through the different elements of documenta 14. Drawing on the ideas of Oskar and Zofia Hansen, the program attempts to address education as an “open form,” a space that cultivates spontaneous gestures and occurrences that “awake the desire of existence,” as described in Oskar Hansen’s Open Form Manifesto of 1959.

Taking place at regular intervals, the encounters work from various starting points, such as the performativity of the self, borderline economies, the history of gesture, diaries, libraries and textiles, scores, living currencies, and political imagination—as well as oracular histories as representing the convergence of various forms of artistic narrative. In the elective affinities that drive chemical reactions, different elements interact and merge at different tempos. Similar attractions are intrinsic to the development of art and collective production.

The program takes the form of weekly, in-depth sessions with enrolled students in which artistic ideas and methodologies are discussed and developed with guest artists and writers of documenta 14. The weekly sessions culminate in monthly clusters of seminars involving intensified projects and discussions as well as public presentations.

The ongoing publication South as a State of Mind becomes a focal point for a joint reading practice. During the program, there are several points of encounter with the Parliament of Bodies and its Societies. A common theme of the Elective Affinities as a whole is the way in which artistic works come to life. How can we make an artwork together? What are some of the ways in which the production of art, the understanding of art, and challenging of the current political imagination can become entangled with one another?


The program takes part on the premises of the Athens School of Fine Arts in the Piraeus Annex. The classrooms used for the two semesters of Elective Affinities are located in the Postgraduate Studies Building designed by studio 66 (first semester) and in the so-called “old library” (in the second semester) which is designed together with Aristide Antonas. A hybrid space developed by documenta 14 and the ASFA, the library acts as a studio and salon for the students frequenting the program as well as a public interface hosting local and international students.

The garden of the Athens School of Fine Arts also hosts some meetings and serves as a site for exchanging knowledge and practices. We often meet there on warm days for the observation of nature, discussions, and sessions with curators and artists. Public presentations take place in different locations.


During the week-long Intensives titled Hearing Voices (January 2017) and School of Gesture (May 2017), the students participate in joint seminars and presentations with students from Kassel University.

List of Meetings

Elective Affinities Introduction, October 17, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Cinema Hall
With: aneducation (Sepake Angiama, Anton Kats, Elli Paxinou, Arnisa Zeqo), Zafos Xagoraris

ASFA students and staff members are invited to join a discussion about different learning methodologies in the context of documenta 14 and to meet the team members of aneducation. Elective Affinities is introduced.

Photo: Stathis Mamalakis

Elective Affinities Public Presentation #1, October 18, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, de Chirico Hall
With: Rainer Oldendorf

The artist Rainer Oldendorf discusses his recent artistic research on the 4th International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM 4), which took place on the SS Patris in 1933 as the boat traveled from Marseille to Athens. The presentation addresses the challenging and extended link between modernist architecture and social organization. Oldendorf talks about revisiting of this itinerary and the CIAM 4 by traveling the other direction, from Athens to Marseille, with students on a five-day boat trip. During the seminar on the boat an attempt is made to produce the 14th chapter of Oldendorf’s ongoing film series Marco.

Photo: Stathis Mamalakis

Elective Affinities Seminar #1, October 19, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With: Rainer Oldendorf

Rainer Oldendorf gives a closed seminar focused on addressing the links between architecture and the organization of society, neoclassical dwellings, and modern construction. The students discuss Architects’ Congress (1933), a film diary recorded by László Moholy Nagy at CIAM 4 and extracts of the picaresque film Marco.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities Seminar #2, November 1, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With: Moyra Davey, Aboubakar Fofana, Quinn Latimer, Vivian Suter, Monika Szewczyk

In this session Moyra Davey introduces her writing and artistic practice with a particular focus on her recent work Hemlock Forest (2016) and her contribution to South as a State of Mind, “Walking with Nandita.” Quinn Latimer also discusses Davey’s text in South and their visit to India. In the second part of the session Vivian Suter engages the students in a painting exercise, in which fish glue and several pigments are used to paint on large sheets of white paper arranged on the floor. Lastly, Monika Szewczyk and artist Aboubakar Fofana talk about his upcoming work involving the garden of the Athens School of Fine Arts and a seminar on calligraphy that takes place later in the year.

Photo: aneducation

Elective Affinities Weekly Class Meeting, November 8, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Garden and Masters Building
With: Feodora Pallas, Monika Szewczyk, Arnisa Zeqo

The students meet at the garden to collect pomegranate and walnut shells with Monika Szewczyk and Feodora Pallas. The collected natural materials are to be used for making natural pigments during a seminar with Aboubakar Fofana that takes place later in the year.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities Seminar #3, November 22–24, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With: Daniel García Andújar

Under the title “Take out Diogenes’s Lamp” artist Daniel García Andújar gives a three-day seminar where he discusses different ways of assembling and disseminating archival material. He focuses both on surveillance and control in the age of internet and hacking the historical canon. The students also discuss and present in class their own personal archives, which may take digital or material form. The students receive feedback from the artist and the rest of the class.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities Public Presentation #2, November 23, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, de Chirico Hall
With: Daniel García Andújar

Under the title “Hacking the Canon and the Story’s Material” artist Daniel García Andújar gives a public presentation on his practice. The presentation deals with the disappearance of public space and the new global division of labor. The artist discusses how art generates models of resistance that transform cultural practices and how these can be siphoned off from the machinery of digitalization into a creative process.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities Seminar #4, December 13–15, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With Pascale Criton, Angela Melitopoulos, and students from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

Composer Pascale Criton and artist Angela Melitopoulos give a three-day seminar entitled “Cross-Listening” with student participants from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. The seminar starts with a practical improvisation based on a conceptual composition by Cornelius Cardew. This is followed by a discussion based on the film installation The Refrain (2015) by Angela Melitopoulos. Pascale Criton presents her research and some examples of her practice, including the work Sensitive Ears (2015). The students are asked to record a sound event from their surroundings and bring the recordings to class the following day. The seminar ends with Criton and Melitopoulos reflecting on Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theory of subjectivity.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities Public Presentation #3, December 14, 2016
Athens School of Fine Arts, de Chirico Hall
With: Pascale Criton, Angela Melitopoulos

Composer Pascale Criton and artist Angela Melitopoulos give a public presentation entitled “Cross-Listening.” Melitopolous discusses the development of her ongoing film project Crossings for documenta 14. She talks about the circulation of voices within the autonomy of migration , in which subjectivities emerge through what Félix Guattari described as “an incessant coming-and-going between complexity and chaos.” Pascale Criton talks with Melitopoulos about aspects of Crossings,. and they jointly argue for an ecology of listening that is altogether ethical, poetic, and social.

Photo: Freddie F.

Elective Affinities, Special Session, December 14, 2016,
Athens School of Fine Arts, Icon Painting Studio
Led by: Dimosthenes Avramidis
With: Aboubakar Fofana

During this special session, Aboubakar Fofana shares his calligraphy skills with the students of Elective Affinities and students working at the Icon painting studio headed by Dimosthenes Avramidis. He introduces the students to techniques for writing simple Latin letters.

Elective Affinities, Weekly Class Meeting, January 24, 2017
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With: Angelo Plessas

The artist Angelo Plessas gives a presentation on the second edition of the Experimental Education Protocol scheduled to take place from February 25 to March 3 at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Delphi Annex. The Experimental Education Protocol is an alternative educational model founded by Plessas. Participants are asked to create educational models that revolve around a case study and the local context. The artist encourages the students to participate, and a number of students join him in Delphi later in the year.

photo: aneducation

Elective Affinities Seminar #5, January 31, 2017
Athens School of Fine Arts, Masters Building
With: Banu Cennetoğlu

Artist Banu Cennetoğlu shares the different aspects of her work with the students. In particular, she discusses a number of works that collect the printed newspapers of a single day within a selected geography. She also introduces the students to the challenges she has faced in her work on the archive of Macist Gul (with Philippine Hoegen), which was presented at Bas, Istanbul, a space for artist’s books, and was initiated by the artist there and in other venues. Finally, she discusses her process of making a new work for documenta 14 in Athens.

photo: aneducation

Elective Affinities, Weekly Class Meeting, February 7, 2017
Athens School of Fine Arts, old library
With: Ibrahim Mahama

The session with artist Ibrahim Mahama is the first to take place in the old library.

The students help to rearrange some items in the space, moving bookshelves and tables to create more room. Artist Ibrahim Mahama presents his project for documenta 14 and invites students for a series of performances happening later in the year on Syntagma Square.

Photo: Stathis Mamalakis

Elective Affinities Seminar #6, February 14–16, 2017
Athens School of Fine Arts, old library
With: Yael Davids

During a three-day seminar entitled “Salon de Tomb: The Library-salon as a Portrait” by artist Yael Davids invites the students to rethink the concept and practice of the salon/library through a performative framework. Yael Davids introduces her research on Rahel Varnhagen (1771–1833), who ran one of the most significant 18th-century salons in Berlin, the correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, and the Gurlitt collection. In conclusion, the artist leads a performative workshop in which students incorporate different texts read during Elective Affinities and prepare a series of performances.

Each day of the seminar begins with a Feldenkrais session.

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