“Shinrin-yoku”: A PCAI contemporary art exhibition at J. & A. N. Diomedes Botanic Garden

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The Japanese phrase Shinrin-yoku 森林浴 translates into English as forest bathing: a tentative yet not very widespread term coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan. A concept alluding to the ancient habit of spending time close to nature, among trees and wild plants, absorbed by the surrounding wilderness, without the distress of electronic devices and the fast pace of everyday life. Ranging from sculpture, installations and photography to AI, illustration and film the artworks interact with the botanical garden, its surrounding forestry area, its water-lily ponds, clearings and greenhouses, underlining their function as conservation sanctuaries of thousands species of flora, while being a home for various specimens of local, wild fauna.

The Shinrin-Yoku exhibition intends to navigate around the grounding and therapeutic effect of nature and the primeval forest, as well as the notion of water in connection to the Jungian unconscious and to Édouard Glissant’s passages and routes. Moreover, the exhibition attempts to delve into the mythologies and traditions of ama, the more than 2000-year-old matriarchal communities of free divers in Asia. Throughout their practice as sea food and pearl fishers, the ama (海, sea women) strive towards the protection of the invaluable “forests of the ocean”, as they refer to seaweed and marine flora, while making sure not to damage or overharvest algae and other deep-sea organisms. A custom that seems to reflect the words of Gaston Bachelard (1942) that water is a source of imagination necessary for the deployment of poetics. It has the unfathomable power to carry and comfort us. Water brings back our mothers.

Aiko Ohno, Hide and Seek with Ama Divers and Abalones, 2023, Ink-Jet print, Courtesy of the artist 

The Shinrin-yoku exhibition aims to elaborate further on the discourse on environmental protection and gender that started during the Sheltered Gardens hybrid exhibition in 2022-2023. On June 20, on the occasion of the opening, visual arts performances by VASKOS and by Michalis Afolayan will take place in clearings of the garden.

The exhibition is held with the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the French Institute of Athens, under the auspices of the Embassy of Japan in Greece and in the context of the institution 2024 Greek-Japan Year of Culture and Tourism.

*Eva Stefan’s and Eric Baudelaire’s films will be screened on September 19 and September 20. The artists will be present during the garden screenings.

Vaskos, Hydro-erotic Moons, 2024, photo print, Courtesy of the artists

VENUE: J. & A. N. Diomedes Botanic Garden

The Julia and Alexander N. Diomedes Botanic Garden is one of the largest Botanic Gardens in Greece and the East Mediterranean. It was founded in 1951, at the bequest of Alexandros Diomedes and it operates as a Legal Entity of Private Law. With the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and under the supervision of Konstantinos Mitrakos, Professor of Botany of the University of Athens, the configuration works, based on the blueprints of Professor Herta Hammerbacher of the University of Berlin, were completed. In 1975, a major part of the works was finished, and the garden opened officially to the public. The space is open every day with free entrance.

PCAI is a nonprofit organization, founded by Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Polygreen CEO, as a means to increase environmental awareness through an annual programme of commissions, contemporary art exhibitions, art residencies, workshops, conferences and events. The organisation implements its objectives through three areas of activity: its mainly commissioned-based art collection, its annual program of cultural projects and the support it offers to artistic initiatives and artists sharing its environmental concerns. In 2019 Kika Kyriakakou, PCAI’s artistic director, initiated the organisation’s artist-in-residence programme with a residency jury of esteemed members like Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries artistic director, and Krist Gruijthuijsen, KW Institute Director. In 2021 PCAI became an official nominator for the Earthshot Prize, the significant environmental award established by the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Cambridge.

Participating artists: Lynn Hershman Leeson, Éric Baudelaire, Aiko Ohno, Asako Masunouchi, Nikomachi Karakostanoglou, Maria Antelman, Raffaela Naldi Rossano, Malvina Panagiotidis, George Drivas, Dimitris Ioannou, VASKOS (Vassilis Noulas & Kostas Tzimoulis), Eva Stefani, Michalis Afolayan, Campus Novel, Maria F. Dolores & Sofia Dona

Curator: Kika Kyriakakou


Thursday 20 June 2024 - Friday 20 September 2024

Opening: Thursday 20 June, 5 pm – 8 pm
Duration: June 21 – September 20, 2024

The Diomides Botanic Garden will remain closed when the weather conditions are considered dangerous for a possible fire. Visitors should be informed before visiting the exhibition. More information: civilprotection.gov.gr/arxeio-imerision-xartwn

Opening hours: Daily during the Botanic Garden opening hours (from 9 am to sunset)***
Address: Iera Odos 403, Chaidari, 12461, Attica
Free entrance, by timed ticket booked in advance via diomedes-bg.gr/booking
On 20/6, from 5 pm to 8 pm, there will be a free shuttle bus service from Aghia Marina metro station to the venue, running a circular route at frequent intervals.

Diomides Botanic Garden, Iera Odos 403, Chaidari, 12461, Attica

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