TAVROS kickstarted in October 2019 as a springboard for our need to respond to the social and political circumstances around us, by exploring notions of democracy, equality and ecology whilst looking to address these issues head-on through dialogue, listening and learning.
Inspired by our locality, which takes its name from a mountainous region in Turkey (Toros Dağları) from which a wave of migrants arrived and settled in the 1920s, our programme reflects our belief in the transformative potential of shifting perspectives and moving minds and bodies through our relationship with art.
By using a variety of tools: exhibitions, research, commissions, educational programmes, talks, screenings, development funds, and community work, TAVROS aims to be a welcoming and nurturing space dedicated to embracing and enriching relationships between similarly-minded institutions, with artists of diverse backgrounds and with the local communities and creating a space for unheard, threatened or marginalised voices.
Tavros was first inhabited in the 1920s by refugees from Asia Minor, in an area which used to be an extensive olive grove and where many rivulets of the Kifissos flowed. Like all the refugee settlements at that time, they were positioned at a distance from the center of Athens. Often in the winter months the precarious settlements, at the time not much more than shanty towns, would be flooded by rain. Nearby food markets alongside the slaughterhouse led to the fast development of the area – the refugee population providing labour for the new surrounding industries.
As the city developed, the landscape changed, gone were the groves, whilst the rivulets were cemented. In the 1950s the Ministry of Welfare developed much-needed social housing, still standing today and facing our space TAVROS. The inhabitants of Tavros were key to creating a working-class identity for the area, as a center of resistance in WWII, for ensuing class struggles and later for the headquarters of neo-Marxist groups. In recent years, new waves of migrants have inhabited the area, providing labor once again for Tavros’ small-scale industries but also new stories of shifting identities. Tavros now is a hybrid area where large-scale corporations, non-governmental and cultural organizations, universities and schools, small-scale industries and the 1950s refugee houses stand side by side. It is one of the few areas in the center of Athens where you can still find large green expanses that allow you to dream.
Everybody is welcome to our space and we aim to constantly improve our accessibility protocol. We offer guided exhibition tours in sign language as well as in Arabic and Albanian, amongst others, with the goal of becoming a home for many different communities of Athens.
Sustainability is also key to our practice: we do our best to use re-used and recycled materials, aiming to reduce our waste to a minimum. When we welcome artists who have travelled by plane, we try to make their stay meaningful by introducing them to as many people and communities as possible.
We insist on promoting production methodologies that are considerate of the environment. One way we do this is by thinking about resources in our locality, favouring working with collaborators from our neighbourhood. We are conscious that we are working at a time of ecological urgency, which is reflected in the various threads of our programme, offering a platform for discourse but also resilience and hope. We foster mutual collaborative practices locally and transnationally in the belief that sharing resources, knowledge and time with other organisations and collectives is a more sustainable and generous model for institutioning. TAVROS insists on its belief that artists and other creative practitioners play a fundamental role in shaping the world we live in and aims to be a catalyst for them to do so.
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