Following the presentation at the 2023 International Book Fair of Frankfurt, the official Athens launch of the bilingual book “[UN]FINISHED Atlas of Athens’ Incomplete Buildings – A Story of Hidden Antimonuments” by Maria Lalou & Skafte Aymo-Boot took place on November 9, 2023, at the HYPER HYPO bookstore, with a performative intervention by the creators followed by readings and a dialogue with  Elpida Karaba (art theorist, curator and associate professor at the University of Thessaly) and Platon Issaias (architect and Head of Projective Cities MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design at the AA, London).

The launch was accompanied by an installation of one of the book’s stories in the store’s project space and was on view until Saturday 25/11.

With this work in the form of a book, Maria Lalou & Skafte Aymo-Boot present the phenomenon of a particular pending architecture. The concrete skeleton of polykatoikia – multi-storey apartment buildings – are emblematic of the development of modern Greece throughout the second half of the twentieth century. The book deals with the politics of urban space by treating the unfinished buildings as study objects and tracing their individual histories. Through the words of current owners and by means of photographs, archival documents and found artefacts, a different chronicle of the development of modern Athens takes shape. An anthropological and politically charged history unfolded on 288 pages, with graphic design by Sam de Groot, and published by Jap Sam Books.

The architectural archetype of the unfinished concrete building can be found everywhere in the Athenian cityscape. Those structures, left in the middle of a discontinued building process in a seemingly never-ending pause, are signs of invisible financial and political structures defining the physical appearance of the city. With its character of a ruin of a forgotten purpose the unfinished building is at the same time pointing to the past and to the future, as a frozen moment of time preserved ever since its volume reached that concrete state.

Essays by Brooke Holmes, Platon Issaias and Elpida Karaba critically touch upon the phenomenon from different perspectives. Moving in scale from a tactile portrait of one specific concrete structure to a complete building index, the Atlas introduces a method for extracting forgotten memories and hidden structures, suggesting an alternative reading of the city.

 

[UN]FINISHED – Atlas of Athens’ Incomplete Buildings – A Story of Hidden Antimonuments

Published by Jap Sam Books

Research, Book Concept, Photography, Texts & Editing: Skafte Aymo-Boot & Maria Lalou

Design: Sam de Groot

Essays: Brooke Holmes, Platon Issaias, Elpida Karaba

Architectural Survey: Nikolaos Lianos & Effimia Lianou architects, in close collaboration with Skafte Aymo-Boot & Maria Lalou

Translations: Danai Kapranou, Dimitris Philipoupolitis, Panagiota Stathopoulou, Tania Theodorou, Theophilos Tramboulis

Proofreading: Danai Kapranou, Dimitris Liberopoulos, Aaron Bogart, Eleonoor Jap Sam

Transcriptions: Katerina Karagianni, Georgia Stamou

Printing & Binding: G. Kostopoulos Printing House.

The publication was made possible with the support of The J. F. Costopoulos Foundation and The Danish Arts Foundation.

 

Maria Lalou is a Greek conceptual sculptor and experimental filmmaker. Her works are based on accumulative research on the role of institutions and their tools, respectively the institution of Art itself in dialogue with the artist role, and as the third element, the ‘political role’ of the viewer. From the small scale of the object-space, she moves to large scale sculptural installations, multiple spaces and interventions in the public space, with the means of film production, performances, directed algorithms, diagrammatic drawings and texts. Lalou holds a number of grants and awards including a Fulbright grant. She has presented her work internationally in exhibitions, screenings, publications and lectures and she has published two monographs: [theatro] (2015 Onomatopee, Eindhoven) and the camera (2019 Dolce Publications, Athens). Maria Lalou is a member of CREAM and is a candidate for a Doctorate of Philosophy at University of Westminister in London (http://reaction-lalou.com).

 

Skafte Aymo-Boot is a Danish architect. In 2009, he co-founded NEZU AYMO architects in Amsterdam, and since 2019 he is a partner in OP – Open Platform in Copenhagen. Through research and unconventional thinking, he formulates new ideas in the form of buildings, urban plans, interiors and spatial concepts. He has realised a wide variety of architectural projects, in the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece, and his work has won several first prizes and awards. A significant part of his practice includes collaborations with artists working in the overlap between architecture and visual art, which has resulted in a number of permanent and temporary works in Europe and Asia. He has presented his work in lectures at, among others, the Royal Academy of Art, Copenhagen, Universidad National, Bogotá, TU Delft and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (www.skafteaymo.com).

 

Since 2012, Lalou and Aymo-Boot have worked together on the [UN]FINISHED project, a continuous research on the unfinished concrete buildings of Athens. [UN]FINISHED has been presented in different forms at, among others, Princeton University (US), ETH Zürich (CH), IUAV Venezia (IT), The Symptom Project, Amfissa (GR), Green Park Athens (GR) and UNIDEE/Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (IT). In 2020, they founded cross section archive in Athens, a space for Art & Architecture, which they co-direct and curate with an annual thematic program of research, exhibitions and the publication Document (https://cross-section-archive.org).

http://un-finished.org