Life Without Tragedy

By Kostis Velonis (b. 1968)

Developed by Kostis Velonis and Christian Kotzamanis 

Commissioned and produced by Onassis Culture, as part of the Onassis Festival 2019: Democracy Is Coming.

Presented in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program and The Village Alliance.

FREE on View in Astor Place South Plaza

In Life Without Tragedy, Kostis Velonis’ interest in democracy encounters ancient Greek tragedy. The amphitheater is a space for the promotion of political discussions. Theatrical performances were, in the Athenian democracy, deeply rooted in the polity and its institutions. The actors and the members of the chorus were citizens, while the gathering in the theater functioned as an ecclesia (assembly of the citizens). The theater, although it was established during the period of the tyrants, is considered as a progeny of democracy, since it flourished in parallel with the democratic system of government. Democracy would liberate ancient Greek tragedy from its religious nature, giving it a direct anthropocentric and political character. Within the theater, the Athenians exercised in the debate of ideas, dialogue and communication. Velonis identifies the notion of democracy with Greek tragedy, since the theater in ancient Greece was not only a form of art, but also a social institution. The artwork consists of three sculptures—constructed of wood–that mimic an ancient Greek amphitheater.

DOT Art partners with community-based, nonprofit organizations and professional artists to present temporary public artwork on DOT property throughout the five boroughs for up to 11 months. Artists transform streets with colorful murals, dynamic projections and eye-catching sculptures. Sidewalks, fences, triangles, medians, bridges, jersey barriers, step streets, public plazas and pedestrianized spaces serve as canvases and foundations for temporary art. Over the past 11 years, DOT Art has produced over 300 temporary artworks citywide.

The Village Alliance manages the new public plazas at Astor Place, the nexus point of a young, exciting, vibrant and artistic community where East and West Villages meet.  For over 25 years, the Village Alliance has been a leading advocate for the community, working with area businesses, residents, cultural and academic institutions to ensure that Greenwich Village and Astor Place continue to grow and succeed.  Their mission is to create a cleaner, safer, greener, more attractive and enjoyable neighborhood.