It’s Time To Open The Black Boxes!

Global Ongoing Participatory Project

Curated by: Sozita Goudouna

Zoumboulakis Galleries

Athens, Greece, 2012


This project is a response to the pressing issues of our times. Greece, Europe and indeed the World are experiencing multiple crises – economic, social, political, environmental.  IT’S TIME TO OPEN THE BLACK BOXES! is an ongoing participatory art project initiated in 2012 by the Greek artist Danae Stratou.

Living in Greece in a time of multiple crises, it was ever so easy to fall into a state of fear-induced paralysis. This art project was a reaction to such a prospect. It has its roots in the time when the global economic meltdown took place back in 2008. Since then we are traversing an era that generates crisis upon crisis. The need for change has been present ever since and is ready to surface in every aspect of our lives and our societies. The project was generated at a time when we witnessed the Arab Spring, the era of the rising East, and the era of Wikileaks. It is the era of our diminishing tolerance to the lies and subterfuge of politicians, bankrupt bankers, and assorted vested interests. Since then, the alliance of toxicity and opacity, the omnipotence of the Black Boxes, has been strengthened and, at the same time, has given birth to the crisis of our times.

Through its own website and distanced from traditional commercial practices, the art project aspires to give voice to as many as people possible, to help attain a deeper understanding of our collective predicament, and to empower a joint response to the paralysis that is causing us to ‘freeze up’. The project activates a dialogue constituting, in itself, a collective response to our multi-faceted predicament. By opening the ‘Black Boxes’ we symbolically bring to light the words that reflect what threatens us the most, or that which we are desperately eager to preserve. #opentheblackboxes


The installation comprises 100 black aluminum boxes geometrically positioned on the floor equidistant from one another, so as to form a rectangular grid. The boxes’ lids are open at an angle. Inside each box a black screen is positioned at a 45 degree angle in relation to the floor. The boxes are surfaced with translucent mirrors, thus creating the illusion that they are filled to the rim with a liquid substance and that the screens within them are submerged in polluted water akin to an oil slick. Upon entering the exhibition space the viewer is confronted by a mixture of sounds such as beeps, heartbeats, explosions and flat-lines. As one approaches and walks through the installation it becomes apparent that the screens inside the boxes are displaying words and numbers. Each word appears for a few seconds before being replaced by either a numeric countdown or a count-up (depending on the word). As the numbers race (down toward zero or up to a specially chosen limit), their pace, style and accompanying sounds resemble a ticking bomb. When the countdown, or count-up, reaches its climax, each box emits the sound of either an explosion or a flat-line. These sounds are designed so as to intensify the sensation of tension, crisis, and alarm.

IT’S TIME TO OPEN THE BLACK BOXES!  Has been exhibited across Europe, each time based on single-word answers sourced locally: Athens, Greece (2012 & 2018); Krems, Austria (2016); Paris, France (2017); Mallorca, Spain (2017); London, UK (2018); Ghent, Belgium (2019), Berlin, Germany (2021).


It’s Time to Open the Black Boxes! Curator: Ines Muñozcano. Museu de Pollenca. Mallorca, Spain (2018).

Lanceurs D’Alert. Curator: Marie Lechner. La Gaite Lyrique, Paris, France (2017).

It’s Time to Open the Black Boxes! Curator: Heidmarie Dobner. Museumkrems, organised in the context of Globart Academy, Krems, Austria (2016).

It’s Time to Open the Black Boxes. Curator: Sozita Goudouna. Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens, Greece (2012).


Photo Credits of the Exhibition in Athens: Marili Zarkou & Danae Stratou