Why Société Anonyme?

Those of you who already familiar with Art Night might rightly ask: Why Société Anonyme? In other words, two years down the road, why rebrand (a highly suspicious and let’s face it usually insidious commercial practice) an informal artistic platform? Moreover, why choose to rename it with a French expression that signifies, among other things, corporation?

Trial and error

When we first came up with the idea for the initiative, we decided on the most generic name possible, “Art Night”, as a means of circumventing any affiliations and ideological connotations.  We wanted the initiative to be as open and non-descript as possible in order to welcome and support conflicting positions and attitudes. But after a while, it started to dawn on us that maybe this generic character was actually working against it. The initiative was conceived of so informally that, in some ways, it precluded participants from committing to it – indeed, committing to what?

Also, despite its fundamentally non-descript character, “Art Night” did sound vaguely amateurish. While that is something that we recognized and merrily embraced from the start as a concerted reaction against the “lifestyle” trend, we began to suspect that it might perhaps have given a few the wrong idea.

A new name

Choosing a new name presented more of a challenge than we initially anticipated. After all, we still wanted the platform to come off as dis-affiliated, open and non-partisan. We finally settled on Société Anonyme after a meeting with a few regular members who raised a number of crucial issues and concerns regarding the new identity of Art Night. One crucial issue that this discussion raised, as far as I’m concerned, was the question of responsibility. If we endowed Art Night with a more formal identity as a collective platform, would its members then all be held accountable for the different activities organized under its umbrella?  This w as bound to lead to a particular ideology excluding conflicting positions…

As a way to sidestep this significant concern, we chose a name that literally signifies anonymous community, designating a commercial status whereby individuals cannot personally be held liable for the entity’s actions. Also, Société Anonyme did already have certain historical ties to the art world.

Resolving theoretical matters practically

Having settled on a new name, we were left with one thorny and pretty fundamental issue: language.  How could we justify using a French name to designate a Greek/English platform? Fortunately for us, the question was somewhat resolved through some pretty clever graphic design work on the part of Dimitris Papazoglou and Dimitris Koliadimas at Designers United, who generously helped us conceive our new visual identity.

The challenge with Société Anonyme lay not only in the question of language but also in the name’s problematic corporate associations. The logo and posters that they designed are neither corporate-looking nor particularly French, using letters from various languages in a successful bid to look universal. Moreover, they managed to retain some of the generic character that we so held onto, deliberately avoiding any flashy, trendy, poppy or eye-catching flourishes that might have misrepresented the spirit of our endeavor.

So a warm thank you to Designers United! And sincere thanks to all the members who were present at the meeting last fall to discuss the relaunch of Art Night. Your feedback was extremely insightful and helped us reshape the initiative into a platform that we hope will continue to evolve in the future and serve, in its own particular way, the interests of the local art community at large.

Stephanie

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