John G. Papaioannou – the multimedia art vision

[…] in all cultures of the past […] where the rituals combined many kinds of arts and other events, and after that in all great civilisations such as those of Greece, China, India, Egypt and more recent ones, we always find the collaboration of arts playing a much greater role than absolute art.

John G. Papaioannou

Excerpts from Eugenia Alexaki’s Collaboration of the arts: the multimedia art vision of John G. Papaioannou (2015)

“A connoisseur and supporter of the international avant-garde art scene, the architect and musicologist John G. Papaioannou (1915 – 2000) promoted from as early as the beginning of the 1960s the idea of collaboration between visual art and music.

Among his long and active career as practitioner and researcher in the field of Ekistics — as a close associate of Constantinos Doxiadis and member of the Athens Technological Institute — and his systematic activities in the area of music, the present edition focus, focusing on the 1960s and 1970s, examines the theoretical discourse and the activities of John G. Papaioannou as regards the support and promotion of hybrid forms of art, of joint projects and the institutional synergy among different artistic fields, predominantly visual art and music. Specifically, it explores the starting points that led him to systematically promote multidisciplinary creation, his contacts with artists from the international experimental scene whom he presented in Greece, his collaborations with local art institutions, the relations he cultivated with visual artists, the joint ventures between musicians and visual artists he encouraged or supported, and his theoretical views and ideas on a museum of contemporary art which he envisioned as a centre for interaction of the arts.

In addition to his support of the avant-garde music scene in Greece, we find also that Papaioannou was quick in realising the orientation of New Music towards mixed works of art. Starting in the mid-1960s, he made conscious and assiduous efforts to promote interdisciplinary art projects, as evidenced by his writings and his initiatives for events of this kind. The causes and conditions behind his deep conviction of the need for a collaboration of the arts must be sought first of all in his twofold capacity as architect-urban planner and musicologist-musician. This means that he was conversant with both spatial and temporal arts, as they are called. His academic background, his erudition, the travels he made and, of course, his interests brought him into direct contact with the international avant-garde trends in music and architecture as well as in all visual arts. […]

On April 14, 1966 the Hellenic Association for Contemporary Music and the Greek Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music opened the 1st Hellenic Week of Contemporary Music in Athens. John G. Papaioannou, as a secretary general of the Association, had a major role in organizing these events. […]

Through his post at the Athens Technological Institute and the Hellenic Association for Contemporary Music, and as co-director – with Gϋnther Becker – of the Goethe Institute’s Studio for Contemporary Music, Papaioannou worked regularly with visual artists who used sound elements in their work, such as Pantelis Xagoraris, Stathis Logothetis, Nella Golanta, et al.

Papaioannou was also a close associate of the architect and composer Iannis Xenakis. In the Polytope multi-art event presented by Xenakis in Mycenae in September 1978, Papaioannou was directly involved in the implementation of the project and serve as its theoretical apologist.

Papaioannou expressed his ideas on the importance of collaboration of the arts in various articles, unpublished notes, papers, and reviews. However, it was in the 1982 article-manifesto “Sound, Light, Colour. The multi-artistic synthesis of audio and visual processes in today’s Greece” that he condensed his views on the matter. In that article he reiterates his thesis about the contemporary multi-art works originating from primeval rituals, comments on Skjriabin’s ambitious plans for a holistic work of art, points to the seminal experimentations of John Cage, the happenings of Allan Kaprow, the actions of Joseph Beuys as well as to performances and environmental art, and makes extensive references to Jani Christou and Iannis Xenakis as the most prominent Greek artists to have envisioned a profound collaboration of the arts.”



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