In 1952, Herbert Read, well-known art critic, and anarchist soon to become a Knight of the Realm, coined the striking phrase ‘the geometry of fear’. It described a new tendency in post-war British
sculpture, informed by Existentialism, and characterised by tortured metal forms. By contrast, Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ video, which takes Read’s phrase as its title, is sedate—if faintly ominous—as it carefully describes the architecture, décor and apparatus of the Hellenic Parliament. It was recorded in 2012 at a period of deep crisis between elections when the Parliament did not sit
for over a month. In this long moment of hiatus, Tsivopoulos picks out the grand if awkward neo-classical interior (the chamber had been converted from the ballroom of a Royal Palace), the strange mix of outdated high-tech equipment and conservative signs of distinction—the leather seats which flip up when
empty like those in a cinema, the voting machines and the traces of ink wells, and the clocks set to zero. The emptiness of the chamber is eloquent and prescient. The crisis was caused by the global financial crash of 2008, made worse by gross mismanagement and corruption among the two main
parties, which became discredited as a possible exit from the EU loomed. New forces were emerging which challenged not just the neoliberal consensus but, with Golden Dawn, democracy itself. As the crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the democratic will of the Greek people would hold no sway over the enforcement of EU austerity politics: the chamber might as well have been permanently vacant. In most of Tsivopoulos’ video, the microphones are with slight variations seen facing the same
way; but there is a moment when two face each other in opposing directions, a sign we might think of the violent political antagonism to come.