Video, 1min 26sec
The National Glyptotheque (Sculpture Gallery) of Greece was founded in 2004, being part of the glorious days of Athens Olympic Games frenetic city lifting. It is situated in the heart of Goudi Park, a site heavily invested with Greece’s political history. An army camp for decades, it was the space where the coup of 1909 took place and the space where anti-venizelist officials held responsible for the Greek military defeat in Asia Minor were executed in 1922. Executions in Goudi continued throughout Greece’s modern history, perhaps the most well-known internationally being the one of Nikos Beloyannis and his co-defendants in 1952. On April 21, 1967, the officers that launched the junta of the colonels drove tanks from Goudi to the city center to overthrow the government, proceeding to extensive arrests and deportations of deputies and citizens. The historical context of the Park doesn’t seem to reflect at all on the National Gallery’s website. The dedicated page is pretty minimalistic.
The location is surrounded by many significant public buildings, including the Airforce General Hospital, the Army General Hospital of Athens, the Ministry of Citizen Protection, the Badminton Theatre and the campus of the University of Athens. The Park is still called «Άλσος Στρατού» (Army Grove) and the open air exhibition of the Glyptotheque presents a rare cohabitation of modern and contemporary Greek sculpture with monuments dedicated to army and police commemorations.
Nowadays the sculpture park it is a rather unloved area with very scarce visitation, statues & installations popping in the midst of derelict ex-army edifices. I visited it for the first time on February 9, 2016. The palm trees that once adorned the pathways were all cut to the root and the vegetation grew wild in between spaces. Labels were printed in A4 paper and encased in cost-effective plastic cases, laying carefree on the ground, diy style. The sun was shining and nice stray dogs were more than happy to frolic around the small cement theater that I guess had been used in the opening ceremonies 10 years ago.