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Greeks are silent, numb, helpless and dependent

02 June 2013 / 14:06:13  GRReporter
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"When I hear the word crisis, I feel the opponent’s futility," said Kyriakos Katzourakis. "Obviously, capitalism is suffering a crisis of age and admits it openly, but is it sharing it with common people, instead of sharing its capital?" The director and artist, whose latest film ''Small Revolts'' (starring Katia Yerou) was recently screened for the first time, perceives the crisis as a word from the new economic vocabulary that obscures ordinary things. "You hear the word 'crisis' and you are horrified," he said, "it defeats you and you feel a terrible shock because of your courage to request a pension, salary, education and care. Who will give you these things, when your boss is in a crisis?"

A round-table discussion on “Art in the Crisis” has been organised at the Benaki Museum in Piraeus on Sunday, 2 June, with the participation of Katzourakis. It is being held on the occasion of the author’s retrospective exhibition, covering 50 years of his creative work, from 1963-2013, which can be visited until 28 July. The same round-table will be a presentation of Kyriakos Katzourakis’ book ''Order in Chaos'' (Taxi sto Chaos) (Kaleidoskopio Publications). Journalists Nikos Xidakis and Kostas Arvanitis will also take part, as well as writer and professor of aesthetics, communications and technology at Athens University, Peppi Rigopoulou.

Born in Athens in 1944, Kyriakos Katzourakis studied painting at the School of Fine Arts as well as in England at St. Martins School of Art. He also studied stage scenery. In 1968, he was awarded the "Parthenis Prize". He lived in England from 1972 to 1985, where, with the help of Eduardo Paolotsi and the Arts Council, he organised an exhibition of his works at the Serpentine Gallery (1976). He has been working permanently in Greece since 1986. He is founder of the group "5 Young Greek Realists."

In movies, among other things, Katzourakis was scenographer of Pantelis Voulgaris's "To proxenio tis Annas" and he also created the costumes for "Days of '36" by Theodoros Angelopoulos. Besides "Small Revolts", he also directed the films "The Way to the West" and "Sweet Memory". His films are currently being shown at the Benaki Museum.

I decided to make "Small Revolts" as the end of the trilogy, which is about women’s strength. In the first film, "The Way to the West" Irina could not stand it anymore and committed suicide; in the second movie, another Irina resisted and creates new situations, but withdrew. Therefore, I decided to describe the life of Anna, who managed, living somewhere in the countryside, to resist and "rise" in her colourless and sick life, marked by a trauma in her childhood. Her rebellion was the spark for the start of small changes in the place where she lived - a soothing end to the trilogy.

I added Mr Michael Panselinos’s character in the movie for two reasons: firstly, because of the script. The hero of the film enters Anna's life, when he notices her resemblance with a portrait by Panselinos. The second reason is that I wanted to mention this great artist. In the late 13th and early 14th century, Panselinos made an incredible leap in art, matching that of Giotto. He created a new realistic look; he collected material from reality: nature, sky, people's passions, etc. His example was followed by first-class masters - from Theofanis to Rublev. Nevertheless, he is unknown in Europe. As Manos says in the film: "Panselinos is an artist, a contemporary of Giotto ... Well, probably everybody knows Giotto - he had the chance to be Italian. Is there a Greek who cannot identify themselves with this phrase today?

Everything starts with fine art. Cinema, photography and visual arts have a common root - the 

optical perception of the world. Even photography has clearly defined “before” and “now” moments. In the end, however, it does not matter what comes first and what second. In my humble opinion, poetic speech always exists in good works of art and this precisely connects various arts.

Life in the countryside is no longer charming and idyllic. It's cruel, lonely, limiting, full of hardship, and we who live in the capital city ignore it. We are all tourists when we go to the countryside on holiday or to visit relatives. The crisis has a direct impact and even the few hopes for the revival of the countryside have disappeared. The countryside has been exhausted by uncontrolled exploitation. The people, who live there out of conviction, and not just out of habit or need, are its only hope - the initiatives of the countryside’s residents are the only hope.

My small revolt was when Sotiris Petroulas was killed. Everything within me acquired new dimensions. Something which I knew only as part of the history of my city happened before our eyes. The murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos just reminded that suppression of every protest against the government has never stopped.

I am worried because citizens today are speechless, numb and powerless, dependent and defenceless against the brutal power which is determined to finish its crime - the destruction of culture, society, education, solidarity, love and everything normal in our life. I am worried because even today, when we are experiencing the triumph of evil, racism and neo-fascism, everybody is waiting for a messiah who would find a way out and lead the mind in the direction that would change things. And we all know that if we do not do it ourselves, no messiah will come.

After meeting and talking to visitors during my exhibition at the Benaki Museum, I am now sure how 

great the need for communication is. The works included in the exhibition cover 50 years, and since I deal with history, besides my personal journeys, they also reflect 50 years of history. This exhibition is an invaluable tool for the sequel that I am planning. I have felt a lot of the themes that appear in my movies and paintings during discussions with viewers and visitors.

I am working on a new film with a working title "The Star of Capital". I like working titles, "Small Revolts" was originally entitled "Panselinos" (full moon). "Sweet Memory" had a working title "40 hours in Satila". I started writing the script in 2010, when I finished Small Revolts. I am interested in the situation in which we have been living in recent years, and which does not seem to have an end. This situation is my theme.

People feel guilty when they encounter such a serious word like "crisis". I feel that capitalism’s crisis of age began in the era of utopian Esperanto, which preceded the euro-perspective and today it is moving neither forward, nor backward.

The title of my book ''Order in Chaos'' is like an unfulfilled desire. Sometimes adults are scared when Order is violated and normality of life is lost. They are scared, because they start seeing the false boundaries, among which they are used to living. Art has other themes, too - like living with chaos and gazing into the dark side of man. It often gives new interpretations of aesthetics and ethics. This is what I tried to elaborate on in my book.

Poet Maria Laina is editor of the book and the two prefaces are written by Peppi Rigopoulou and Manos Stefanidis.

 

Benaki Museum

138 Pireos Street

Thursday, Sunday: 10.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 10.00 a.m. - 10.00 p.m., Closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Phone: 0030 210 3453111; fax: 0030 210 3453743

Tags: Kyriakos Katzourakis exhibition Benaki Museum director Small Revolts
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