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Margaret E Kenna in Anafi

An exhibition of the work of anthropologist and researcher, Margaret Kenna begins on Sunday 27th June 2021 in Athens.

Margaret Kenna has devoted most of her academic work to the island of Anafi. Her lifelong love of the island began with her first visit in May 1966, almost a year before the imposition of the military dictatorship, to conduct research for a doctoral thesis and her fascination with the island and its people has endured for more than fifty years. Kenna's devotion was rewarded in 2006, when the Municipality of Anafi declared her an honorary citizen.

Kenna's research is multifaceted and focuses many different aspects of island life. It catalogues the effects, on a small island society, of the rapid change that occurred between 1960 and 1990 and can be viewed as a case study of the impacts of these changes on the whole of Greece. The exhibition gives the public the opportunity to see unique documents and recordings of life on a remote island, presenting a fascinating perspective on a relatively isolated social organisation and how it has radically altered over the decades. The work poses many questions in relation to tradition, the ties between citizens in small island communities, the role of women in them, and the effects of decentralisation and modernisation.

Kenna has donated a great part of her photographic archive to the Benaki Museum in Athens, "The Director of the Photo- Archive comes from an Anafiot family and made me promise to do so ...", and in 2019 Kenna decided to donate the rest of her research material to the British School at Athens. This exhibition affords an opportunity to see a small part of her diligent work and research for the first time.

The exhibition ‘Weaving Histories: Margaret Kenna and Anafi’ is hosted by State of Concept Athens in collaboration with Association Phenomenon and the Benaki Museum, and is supported by the British Council and the British School at Athens.

It is the third in a series of exhibitions hosted by State of Concept entitled “The Bureau of Care” that looks into the politics and ethics of care. According to State of Concept the exhibition focuses on the care practiced through the Kenna's work and aims to combine Kenna's prodigious output with contemporary art to highlight crafted dialogues between anthropology and the visual arts.

Three artists were invited to respond to Kenna’s work and produce new commissioned works which will be exhibited alonside Kenna’s archive. Hellen Ascoli, Zoe Hatziyannaki and Maria Varela, have each focused on specific aspects of the varied research trajectories Kenna’s academic work has taken throughout these last fifty years. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with contributions from iLiana Fokianaki, Margaret Kenna, Piergiorgio Pepe & Iordanis Kerenidis a.o.

State of Concept Athens was formed in 2013 by iLiana Fokianaki and describes itself as "... the first non-profit contemporary art institution with a permanent location and a yearly program ..."

Phenomenon is a " ... biennial project for contemporary art held in the Aegean island of Anafi, Greece, that includes a residency with performances, lectures, video screenings and other events, as well as an exhibition throughout the island ..." It is organised by the Anafi-based Association Phenomenon which has been organising a biennial contemporary visual arts project in the island since 2015.

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The exhibition will run from Sunday 27th June to Saturday 11th September 2021 between 4-9 pm. Wearing a mask is, of course, mandatory and entry will be controlled to limit the numbers in the exhibition at any one time.

The Bureau of Care program is supported by the European Cultural Foundation.

Image courtesy Margaret Kenna, Benaki, and State of Concept.