“What is born out of the ground?
The stones are burning in July, my eyes are burning too.” *
As the lime melds the Cycladic forms into a harmonious expanse of purest white – an embodiment of the Greek summer – the bleach, employed to cleanse the spaces awaiting eager visitors, silently infiltrates the unseen migrant women, who toil as tireless workers, weaving the threads of the tourist dream. The exhibition “The stones are burning in July, my eyes are burning too” seeks to weave a tale embracing inclusivity and fluidity, shifting the perspective to an angle less explored. Gossip and personal narratives of the inhabitants of Marpissa, recordings from cafes on the island whose patrons speak Albanian, but also soundscapes, poems, new or old, written as part of the artistic process. This story is more unadorned, more personal, more emotional, it has not been carefully whitewashed, it is not written in marble, nor is it immobile like the tableaux vivant staged by the residents of Marpissa during their Easter “Performances”, one of the customs that inspired some of the participations in this year’s exhibition.
Through the exhibition’s artworks, we navigate through shots of the regional road and the locations of the “Performances”, completely indifferent in the summer. We seek the thoughts and voices concealed within the motionless human statues of Easter. We change at will the saying of an old marble sign, as we intervene in photographs of the place transferring the lived experience and try to heal the wounds of a second-generation migrant seasonal worker. We give the microphone to the women of Marpissa to speak behind the mask of the ancient deity who gave her name to their village. Observing the rural life of another ancient (non)land that could (or could not) be located somewhere behind the Molos, we encounter the recurring theme of this year’s festival – the “In between”. We try to understand it, we look for its definitions and propose new, collective definitions, we claim public space, we think about indigenousness, memory, the collective, public, literal and metaphorical space that each of us has. We ponder over how the tale of Paros’ history is ultimately penned and how the traditions preserved as cultural heritage are selected. Whose voices grace this narrative, and whose stories find a place in our attentive ears. We endeavour to bring forth the essence of this “In between” – the interstices within stories, the unmentioned places amidst the tale of the Greek summer – the micro-stories that often go unnoticed. Equally, we aim to shed light on the perspectives of those absent from the historical narratives, seeking to grasp the reasons behind their omission.
Maria K. and Marleno, “Asbestos”, installation.
The invisible character of gendered and migrant work inspires the work of Maria K. and Marleno. In the art installation “Asbestos”, they carefully selected a space that emerged after demolishing a house. The installation breaks free from the dominant whiteness and comprises photographs, sounds, clothing, and accents, all weathered by lime. “All year round, as people whitewash their houses, their clothes turn white and lime falls on their skin. Come summer, sitting in front of their houses, these people almost blend into their surroundings. The white on their bodies, their homes and the city is a constant reminder that white must be preserved, kept clean, whitened again. Whiteness and visibility give rise to the circumstances that foster their own imperceptibility and unbroken whiteness. We look for them in the village and locate them in a low voice. We look for them in the village and invite them to the places where the white breaks. We don’t like to keep whiteness in its pristine state.”
Orestis Mavroudis, “Today ours, tomorrow others’, and never anyone’s”, installation
While strolling through Marpissa, Orestis Mavroudis found himself captivated by the phrase “Σήμερον ἐμοῦ, αὔριον ἑτέρου και οὐδέποτε τινὸς” which, carved on a stone inscription of 1880, adorns the façade of the house of the hieromonk Gregorios Lourides in Marpissa. His inscription “Σήμερον ἡμῶν, αὔριον ἑτέρων και οὐδέποτε τινῶν” is the transfer from the singular to the plural of the original sentence. The essence of the saying revolves around the fleeting nature of possessing property and translates into English as “Today ours, tomorrow others’, and never anyone’s”. By opting for a plural form and situating the new inscription on the community building’s façade, adjacent to Marpissa’s central square, the intention is to shift the phrase’s significance from individual possession to a shared collective ownership.
Sofia Dona, “Parastasis 2023”, video (2023)
The Performances or Representations of Easter and the tales shared by the women of Marpissa with the artists about these inspired two pieces in the exhibition. In “Parastasis 2023” by Sofia Dona, a series of fixed shots shot in the summer depict those locations in Marpissa where the custom takes place at Easter. The parking lot, the kindergarten, the olive trees, the course, the balcony of a building, are depicted without the actions of Candlemas, the Last Supper or the Crucifixion. In the summer season, the sites where the Passion custom takes place may either appear deserted or bustling, concealing the fact that the community has designated them as venues for specific events in another season. The sites are all located along the peripheral road of the village precisely because it is followed by the epitaph procession. The video “Parastasis” will be screened at the old summer cinema, thus bringing inside Marpissa all those locations that delineate it. The audio video comprises interviews with locals discussing the various roles they have assumed in the Representations (Parastasis) over time.
VASKOS, “It was no accident that Marpessa preferred Ida over Apollo…Marpissa and other stories”, participatory performance
The participatory performance “It was no accident that Marpessa preferred Ida over Apollo… Marpissa and other stories*” by VASKOS (Vasilis Noulas & Kostas Tzimoulis) will be the result of a three-day workshop in the village, collectively exploring the intermediate narrative space between fiction and personal experience. The resulting hybrid material is organised as a representation, inspired also by the rich tradition of the “Performances” of Christ’s Passion, in order to attempt a public presentation-narrative. “We revisit and retell the myth(s) of Marpissa, enriching the material with personal stories and narratives, as well as with rumours and gossip from stories that we have heard and want to share. We create hybrid stories, somewhere in the intermediate space between personal and public, using perhaps the myths of Marpissa as a mask. We are inspired with respect and love by the rich tradition of the “Performances”, and we structure our stories to give a quick and compelling public presentation-narrative”.
(* The line “It was no coincidence that Marpessa preferred Ida over Apollo” comes from Yannis Ritsos’ poem “Marpessa’s Choice”, 1968)
Danae Io, “Sprouts of a dragon’s teeth”, 9 min HD Video with audio, Greek & English subtitles, 2023
Between agricultural landscapes, industrial ruins and an overgrown ancient theatre, animals and insects meander in the plains of de-industrialised Thebes, Greece. A group of field workers are getting ready for their lunch break. The relationship between people and land arranges the film, in the form of a poem on autochthony, othering, and myth. The work is an outcome of the collaboration between Stathis Gourgouris and Danae Io. The title references the myth of Cadmus, who, unable to find his sister Europa in Greece, became the founder of Thebes. In the process he killed a dragon and sowed his teeth from which sprung up armed men who began fighting each other. The myth can be read as an allegory that ties the act of founding with a violence that is bound to repeat itself. Thebes, as the other to the ideal, becomes a stage to consider the relationship between Greece and Europe. My interest in the nation-building of Greece lies in its role as a claimed foundation of European thought as well as a cultural basis upon which the national-cultural consolidation throughout colonialist Europe was developed.
“What is born out of the ground? The stones are burning in July, my eyes are burning too” I read in a poem by Danai Io, from the same series of works that lends its title to the exhibition. The works delve into the more or less violent “sowing” practices associated with nurturing our cultural and national heritage, aiming to harvest more diverse and inclusive identities and narratives.
* Verse from Danai Io’s poem “What is born out of the ground?”
Curator: Despoina Zefkili
Participants: Danai Io, Maria K. and Marleno, Orestis Mavroudis, Sofia Dona, VASKOS.
Through videos, sounds and texts, Danai Io delves into the role of language as a dynamic force in shaping and formalising socio-political structures. She has co-founded the research group “System of Systems”, which centres its efforts on exploring migration management processes in Europe, through curating exhibitions, publishing books, and organising events. At the same time, she co-organises the research project “Schemas of Uncertainty”, which explores the concepts of prediction and prophecy in modern capitalism.
Maria K. has been working in the tourism industry for the last few years, while also keenly observing and gathering images, oral tales, recipes, and embroideries from women in her intimate circle as well as the wider community. She thus attempts to reappropriate and catalyse the trauma and the forms of treatment given to her as an individual and collectively as a legacy.
Marleno likes to research and play with photographs, sounds and words, movements, colours and narratives. He finds fascination in exploring the intricacies of memory and forgetfulness, diligently preserving his body as a meticulous archive.
Orestis Mavroudis’ artistic practice focuses on abstraction, alteration and displacement as artistic values, as well as on the possibilities of creation with as few elements as possible. He works mainly with small dimensions and everyday materials and aims at maximum economy in the mediums he uses. He draws inspiration from the analysis of the political, ideological and social basis of each choice concerning the form, content and presentation of the artwork.
Sofia Dona is an architect and visual artist; through her artistic work, she illuminates the historical and social influences of places through alienation. She is a member of the Aphrodite* group, which curated the queer-feminist festival ‘Aphrodite*’ in collaboration with the Athens Festival, the Goethe Institute and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (2018, 2019, 2020), as well as a member of the NIONIA FILMS group, which since 2022 has started a queer-feminist film archive.
VASKOS is the artistic collaboration between Vasilis Noulas and Kostas Tzimoulis. Their interdisciplinary practice, which includes performances, photography, paintings, ceramics, publications, as well as curating exhibitions, playfully explores the concept of artistic, sexual and national identity.