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Call for Support: The Arrest of Two Young Actors at EMBROS Theater (Athens, Greece)

November 8, 2013


From the Open Assembly of the free self-managed EMBROS Theater after the arrest of two young actors at EMBROS

On October 30 2013, police officers from the Acropolis police station arrested two young actors who were holding rehearsals at the free self-managed EMBROS Theater. The two arrested actors were led to the prosecutor, where they were charged with the breaching of seals, disrupting domestic peace, and repeatedly occupying a public building. They are currently detained, and will be tried on 31/10/2013 with a flagrant process.

For the last two years, EMBROS has been functioning as a non-commodified cultural and social space in the sensitive area of Psyrri, in the center of Athens. The action of today’s arrest is undeniably part of a bigger scheme of a political wipe-out of “lawlessness”, in  other words of the freedom of expression, of social solidarity, of self-management and the creation of culture outside the norms of the vulgar market. The attack on EMBROS, a few days after the invasion of social infirmaries, and perhaps a few days before the threatened raid of the occupied ERT public television-radio station, leaves no doubt about the intentions of a government which appears determined to “redeem itself” of all kinds of social solidarity, after having already dismantled state structures.

The Open Assembly of the free self-managed EMBROS Theater moved forward with a night protest, marching together from EMBROS to the Acropolis Police Station, on Thursday October 31 2013, at 12pm noon to the flagrant process “Aftoforo Monomeles Plimmeliodikio Scholis Evelpidon” (Building 2) to show support for the arrested and resistance towards authoritarianism of power.

EMBROS continues its program as scheduled and invites you to actively take part and participate!

When a government represses the freedom of art and the freedom of expression, it no longer has the right to usurpate the name of democracy, it becomes the expression of totalitarianism that is legitimate to fight. The arrest of the members of EMBROS Theater reveals the intention of an obscurantism incompatible with the right we all have to education and culture. It is a concern of everyone to oppose and save cultural spaces from the mafia enterpises of the privatization and the control of the commodity.
Raoul Vanegeim, Philosopher – writer
A letter of support for the free self-organized Embros Theater from Teatro Valle Occupato (Rome, Italy) after the arrest of 2 actors on 30/10/2013

Dear Reader,

We could have understood if it was a bad example of science fiction, but it’s not. And it’s not a show. Unfortunately, it’s true. Two actors from Embros Theatre in Athens were arrested because they committed the most atrocious of crimes: rehearsing. But maybe it was because this crime is aggravated by others which are even worse, when they become possible: reclaiming public space, practicing commons and believing in culture as a primary right. This authoritarian, illogical, and repressive act of arrest is simply unacceptable. As we are able, from Rome, we would like to RE-ACT! Participants of Embros: What you’re building together is strong, durable and inspiring. We are with you with eyes and heart wide open. This letter is a small gesture of solidarity, but we really want to encourage you guys to never give up.

Teatro Valle Occupato

Letter in support of Embros Theater from Jenny Marketou (interdisciplinary artist and educator)

November 7, 2013,

To whom it may concern,

I am Jenny Marketou (Athens/New York) interdisciplinary artist and educator based inNew York City. As a cultural practitioner during my frequent visits in Athens I had the opportunity to attend several events organized at Embros Theater. I realize that at times of crisis culture is a crucial and active ingredient in the construction and shaping of the contemporary city like Athens and  Embros Theater provides a unique global platform which showcases and hosts artistic practices, campaigns, theories, and practicalities that accompany this phenomenon.

Embros Theater has established itself by a diverse self organized group of people who believe in the active role of culture and taking art seriously have transformed Embros Theater to a place making which has become a catalyst in contemporary culture’s current and potential role in the expanding metropolis such as Athens.

It is unethical to prosecute people who have battled to endure this space and who have contributed in creating arts communities, which are invested in the connection between social justice and art with an impact on the viability of the city. With this letter I am asking your profound consideration on this matter and all efforts to prosecute individuals or directed against Embros should be dropped immediately.

I am a fan and supporter of Embros.

Jenny Marketou


Letter in Support of Embros  from Arts & Labor Alternative Economies
November 12, 2013, New York

We stand in solidarity with the Embros Theater community and condemn the persecution of the two performers arrested for rehearsing in the theater on October 31, 2013.  All charges brought against these individuals should be dropped and their court cases should be dismissed. [1]

Artists Against The Police State

The work that is currently being done at Embros embodies some of the most fundamental aspects of fostering a creative and responsive cultural space in which alternatives to the current system can be explored [2]. In this time of urgency and economic crisis around the world, Embros is forging new directions that should be enthusiastically supported and celebrated by the local and national government rather than aggressively repressed and threatened.

Culture is a basic sign of being alive, a space of reflection and growth, and most importantly it is the place where the processes that define democracy such as freedom of speech,  expression, and criticality, is apparent in more ways than a set of law books can ever describe. Governments from Russia to China, United States and Europe [3] seek to crush within its citizens the freedom of cultural expression. It has become apparent that the democratic, life-expressing aspects of art are being systematically repressed and commodified into pure spectacle and entertainment by these governments, institutional bureaucrats, and their capitalist cohorts. We will not stand-by as they reduce culture to an admission fee, VIP bonus, or something you can buy at the gift shop. We wish to dance, to perform, to visualize, to speak, all without being restricted by the amount of money we have or the so-called credentials and permits that these institutions have invented. Because for us, this is true freedom, this is true a democracy that no currency can equate.

Embros helps to provide much needed free and open community space that brings people from all walks of life together to learn, engage, and create. Therefore, we ask artists and communities around the world to look closely and continue to follow these events as you would a canary in a coal mine, so that we may provide support for artists and cultural spaces when similar events that arise. Furthermore, these instances should provide a lens to reflect on the situation in our cities and to better understand the mechanisms of cultural control, repression, cooptation, and exploitation so that we can continue, through this solidarity network, to expose and ultimately overcome this political, economic, and cultural crises that has become the marker of our times.

Arts and Labor Alternative Economies
Maria Juliana Byck, Emily Baierl, Antonio Serna and Laurel Ptak

[ photo above: Arts & Labor March in Solidarity with Quebec Students (March Against Anti-Protest Laws) and Protesting the Arrest of Takeshi Miyakawa (‘I (heart) NY’ light artist) May 22, 2012. Photo by: Stacy Lanyon]

– – –

[1] Communique from Embros on the Arrest of 2 performers. October 30, 2013

[2] On October 19, 2013, as part of ‘What Do We Do Now?’ the first annual Alternatives Fair in New York City, we invited members of Embros Theater to participate in an international panel on autonomous spaces along with members from other autonomous spaces in Mexico. Through this panel we hoped to learn how autonomously run cultural spaces function to provide a more horizontal way to operate while remaining inclusive to all members in the community. From this exchange we learned how Embros’ organizing by way of a weekly general assembly has become a dynamic and invaluable community-run space in which creativity and innovation is encouraged to thrive.

‘What Do We Do Now? Alternative Fair’ was organized by Alternative Economies, a subgroup of OWS Arts and Labor. Alternative Economies working group explores alternative methods of sustaining the livelihood of artists, art-workers, and other communities interested in alternatives to the current system. We view the concept of labor through the lenses of time, choice, and value, and we research the ways that ideas like the commons, solidarity economies, precarious worker centers, and participatory budgeting can nurture more sustainable art worlds. Believing that vibrant creative communities come from the bottom up, we encourage relationships based on mutual aid rather than competition, and we advocate for cultural institutions rooted in a framework of social, economic, and environmental justice.

[3] Links to similar crack down on autonomous cultural spaces and artists:
– ZAM is Culture, Eviction of ZAM by Milan Police, May 2013
-Footage of Police Eviction of ZAM w/ minute by minute account, May 2013
– Missing Pussy Riot Inmate Turns Up at a Tuberculosis Hospital, Nov 14, 2013
 Extreme show of force by of Swiss police at Basel, May 2013
– “Art Makes Money” Communique from ‘Basel Will Be Occupied’ after the Art Basel raid:
NY Police Arrest of artist in Brooklyn for Decorating the Street  “I (heart)nyc” bags, May 2012


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