NEON’s Portals at The Public Tobacco Factory

NEON’s Portals at The Public Tobacco Factory

What: Make time to take in NEON’s exhibition Portals curated by Elina Kountouri, Director, ΝΕΟΝ and Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago featuring works by 59 artists from 27 countries including 15 new works commissioned by NEON at the impressive Public Tobacco Factory Complex.

Adam Pendleton

The exhibition Portals opens to the public on 11 June in the renovated spaces of the former Public Tobacco Factory – Hellenic Parliament Library and Printing House – as part of the collaboration between the Hellenic Parliament and NEON. Portals features work by 59 artists from 27 countries including 15 new works commissioned by NEON.

As Greece celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, Portals aspires to convey the messages, ideas and visions of contemporary artistic creation, investigating the new reality revealed through the prism of change and disruption.

Apostolos Georgiou

The exhibition is inspired by an article by the novelist Arundhati Roy[1], who sees the pandemic as a “portal, a gateway between one world and the next”. She argues that the rupture created by the pandemic individually and collectively opens a portal, and it is up to us to negotiate our transition through it. According to Roy, “we can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world”.

Portals takes place in the NEON-renovated building of the former Public Tobacco Factory, which emerges as a modern cultural hub, open to all. In this space, artists from across the world express a pluralism of ideas, addressing the concept of the collective and our cultural understanding of history and politics, public space and our communal past, present and future.

The exhibition explores contemporary reality and pays tribute to a world in need of healing and unity. The 59 participating artists from Greece and abroad, create artworks using various media – installations, painting, sculpture, photography and performance – exploring topics such as Movement, the Communal, Connection and Home.

Among them, the 15 new commissions by NEON, created especially for the Tobacco Factory, enrich and consider the concept of the exhibition. The new commissions are by Anastasia Douka, Brendan Fernandes, Elif Kamisli, Panos Kokkinias, Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Glenn Ligon, Maria Loizidou, Teresa Margolles, Ad Minoliti, Duro Olowu, Gala Porras-Kim, Michael Rakowitz, Alexandros Tzannis, Adrián Villar Rojas and Danh Võ.

[1] Arundhati Roy, ‘The Pandemic is a Portal’, Financial Times 3 April 2020




Portals will include a parallel programme dedicated to the history of the former Tobacco Factory building and created in collaboration with the respective departments of the Hellenic Parliament. In addition, a series of parallel events including discussions and educational programmes are scheduled.

Alongside the physical exhibition, there will also be an online ‘portal’. NEON’s free mobile app (available for iOS and Android) will provide access to self-guided tours, photographs and information about the works and the participating artists. It will also include details about the parallel programmes, and how to schedule visits to the Tobacco Factory safely and in accordance with the health authorities’ advice.

When: 11 June – 31 December 2021

Where: The Public Tobacco Factory, Lenorman Avenue.

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