Cats of Athens was a cross species art project in summer 2018. I experimented if I could accomplish an art intervention for the cats that live free in the streets of Athens.
In the beginning of the project I explored the city through long walks. I got sensitized for the place and I formed a picture of the city’s geography in my mind. Oh, those Athenian hills in the plain of Attica. There is a chapel in the top of Lycavittós; hoopoe birds around Filopáppou. The wayfarer sees the Acropolis at every turn, from the hillsides and the roof gardens of the city. There are the ruins of the stone roads and the angient cemetery in Kerameikos… Everywhere I met cats, young and old, with a friend or alone, healthy and weak.
Before my trip, I had watched the cat videos where the domestic cats like to step into rings made of belts. A vet in an article said that the cats have a natural tendency to take control of these kind of clearly limited territories. I wanted to experiment if this hold true with the cats of Athens.
I produced three interventions, which were built of unfired clay rings. I situated them to the streets. I stayed observing the intervention. Would the cats step inside the rings?
Cats of Athens 18 offered me a chance to seek the connection and getting closer with the cats. We humans are in interaction with other lifeforms everywhere, also in the city, where we don’t always recognise the presence of others. When I tried to look at the surrounding world through the cats view, I got closer to the cats reality. The gap between me and the cat diminished.
The relation between human and other animal is not simple, but human has to strive into connection with other species, and to look for more ethical ways to be with others here and now. We can let the troublesome feeling indwell, we don’t have to escape to disregard.
Cats of Athens was on show at Myymälä2 gallery, Helsinki 6.12.-19.12.2019. Link to gallery’s blog archive: http://www.myymala2.com/?p=5417.
Link to the Aalto University MA thesis Cats of Athens – Tutkielma lajienvälisestä taiteesta: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/bitstream/handle/123456789/41501/master_Levonoja_Siina_2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y