“The Tourists” is a collective project for those who cross Southern Europe and for those who reach out to or watch them go by. Devised and run by Depression Era, the project operates as a subversive tourism campaign.
Starting in 2015 in Athens as a collective research and open discussion platform, “the Tourists” evolved into a public space, poster and digital campaign in Spring 2017 (tag: “Make Yourselves at Home”); a publication; and a series of exhibitions. The image, text and video works of “the Tourists” were shown in the 2017 “Decline of Heroes” exhibition at Basel's Antikenmuseum in dialogue with ancient works of art from the Mediterranean and as street posters. In 2018 the project was installed as pieces of a house or tourist pavilion at the Unseen Festival in Amesterdam.
“The Tourists” respond to History-in-the-making: the wave of refugee and mass migrations from Asia and Africa to Europe and the simultaneous increase of global tourism in the Mediterranean. These are parallel, converging global events producing states of emergency, distress investment, collateral conflicts and cultural patronage, at the same place, at the same time. The Tourist lives in a divided, burned-out, hyper-mediated public sphere. Her identity and citizenship are in flux; she is lost in transit, perpetually anxious, alienated, resigned or resisting; he is a simulator of social involvement, impotent to frame History in anything more than a postcard, slogan or tweet.
Among the narratives of power, encounter, arrival and departure featured in Global Media and contemporary art, the images and slogans of “the Tourists” expose seemingly idyllic landscapes containing the debris of unspeakable violence; frame portraits of women and men in alien places, strangers in their land, visitors among ruins, stateless, networked, indolent and conflicted; and document a generation of fearless children. It is not clear whether these belong to tourism ads or disaster news streams.
The Tourists – a campaign (#make yourselves at home), 2015-ongoing, (detail)
Posters, vinyl lettering
Courtesy of the artists