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GAUDEAMUS ALUMNI: Thanasis Deligiannis

Gaudeamus is all about giving opportunities to young artists in the hope of kickstarting their careers. In this series of articles, we check in with some of the artists we worked with in the past to see where they are now. Episode 1: Thanasis Deligiannis, artist in residence at Gaudeamus from 2017 to 2019.

What are you up to at the moment?
I’m writing these lines at Venice Biennale, sitting on a chair with the laptop on my knees, in the Greek Pavilion which looks like a construction site, while two of my colleagues are trying to bend a 70s horn-type speaker because it doesn’t fit to pass through the narrow window of the basement. There is a large agricultural machine in the middle of the space, about 30 speakers all around, lights and video screens waiting to be connected. In other words, I’m working on installing the work Xirómero / Dryland, conceived by myself and Yannis Michalopoulos, created along with the artists Elia Kalogianni, Yorgos Kyvernitis, Kostas Chaikalis and Fotis Sagonas. This work is the result of an on-going research I have been conducting together with Yannis on the music and agricultural culture of the Greek countryside, with Gaudeamus, Onassis Culture and I/O, among others, being partners and supporters. Xirómero / Dryland will be exhibited at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia April to November 2024.

How do you look back on working with Gaudeamus and what role did it play in your career?
First time I collaborated with Gaudeamus was back in 2010 and then again in 2012, both times as a nominee for the Gaudeamus Award. I am more than thankful to have had the chance to present my work at the festival, which I’ve seen gradually transforming in order to support an array of works of different nature: from pure music concerts to music theatre performances and other interdisciplinary/hybrid formats. This transformation was parallel to my trajectory as a maker. When I became artist-in-resident at Gaudeamus in 2017-2019, with the support of the program Nieuwe Makers by Fonds Podiumkunsten, the creative process, the way to program my work in a festival context and how to approach my audience became part of an on-going study and a discussion we still keep open. It is very important for creators to have the chance to apply their ideas and make them reality, having next to them a structure that can understand and support them while taking the necessary risks. Safe art smells like stagnate water.

What lasting influence has working with Gaudeamus on the work that you are making right now?
We should be who we want to be, even if sometimes we are confused about how to express it, especially when we happen to be trespassing on other artistic fields. Working with the Gaudeamus team was an offer to me in being adventurous without having to explain myself. There was no need to “perform” being a professional of a certain type. So that I can now be active as a mixture of a composer, a sound designer, a stage director, a performer and at the same time an artist at Venice Biennale.