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Greek myth and crisis at the Venice Biennale

The financial crisis and the myth of Danae are featured in the world's most prestigious art fair

Stefanos Tsivopoulos' crisis-inspired History Zero and Vadim Zakharov's mythology-inspired Danae are among the highlights of this year's Venice Biennale that kicked off on Saturday

Visitors look at an installation by Vadim Zakharov entitled Danae at the Russian pavilion during the press preview of the 55th Venice Biennale (AFP) Visitors look at an installation by Vadim Zakharov entitled Danae at the Russian pavilion during the press preview of the 55th Venice Biennale (AFP) Greece's official participation in the 2013 Venice Biennale with Stefanos Tsivopoulos' crisis-inspired History Zero is not the only Greek-themed work in the world's most prestigious art fair this year.

Renowned Russian artist Vadim Zakharov has found inspiration in the Greek mythology to create his work for the Biennale, which kicked off on Saturday and will run until November 24.

Zakharov's installation is a metaphor for the myth of Danae, who was locked in a room by her father the king, but was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden rain.

The artist has created a cave as a refuge for women only, which communicates with the level above through two holes cut in the floor. Through one, gold coins are showered down. Through another, a man in a business suit hauls them up in a bucket and dumps them into a conveyor belt to feed the shower.

In the cave, women visitors carry umbrellas as protection against the showers of gold coins, and are asked to deposit some back into the bucket.

History Zero, production still (Stefanos Tsivopoulos) History Zero, production still (Stefanos Tsivopoulos) Tsivopoulos' work, on the other hand, explores the role of money in the formation of human relationships through a film of three episodes alongside an archive of text and images.

The film questions the value of money through the stories of three completely different individuals; an old demented collector of contemporary art, an immigrant who collects scrap metal, and an artist who collects images.

The archive, a collection of evidences about various models of alternative, non-monetary exchange systems, "stands as a political statement suggesting a reformation towards autonomous communal patterns and forms of survival and resistance", as the description puts it.

History Zero, commissioned from the ministry of culture, has attracted international media attention, with the Independent describing it as “a genuine insight into the age of austerity”. Dazed & Confused magazine includes Tsivopoulos in the top ten list of “New art stars at the Venice Biennale”, calling his work “a very timely examination of the current financial crisis hitting his country”.

The work is curated by Syrago Tsiara, director of the Thessaloniki Centre of Contemporary Art.

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