A site specific wandering performance starring the residents of Upper Elefsina, descendants of Asia Minor living in the historic refugee settlement.
The descendants of Asia Minor refugees from upper Eleusis participate in a site-specific performance within the unique neighborhood of Synikismos. It is the tiny refugee houses and the dead-end alleys that bear witness to the memories of the destructive uprooting, while the reminiscence of personal experiences composes the nexus of the performance. By intertwining fiction and a documentary approach, the personal testament of the individual becomes collective history for the community. Participants and audience relive the experiences of the locals listening to a radio, a television, discovering long forgotten images and entering old yards filled with memories. A live transmission silently maintains their everlasting legacy entrusted to future generations. Behind the flaking walls, the abandoned terraces and the new-builds, a hidden facet of the story is revealed and articulated for the first time.
Τradition, vivid memories and a link to the past ignite the journey for both the participants and the audience. The performance material is a collection of meetings that took place over many months, including field interviews and informal conversations between the artistic group and local residents. To keep the purity of these interactions, much of this work occurred in the Eleusis Museum of Asia Minor, a landmark site with sentimental value. The process of material collection has been extensively documented with video and audio recordings. The documentation highlights the preparation stages, the rehearsals, as well as the daily minutiae and the everyday routine of Synikismos area and its residents. The performers and the musicians -alongside the participants themselves- become part of a collective creative process. The core narrations are complimented by archive material of The Mourning Rock, by Philippos Koutsaftis. The complete documentation, forms an interdisciplinary body of work, which negotiates remembrance and memory. The cross-pollination and interweaving of narration and reconstruction are mediated through performative action, video projections and live music. Different forms of creative expression interact to generate the specific performance milieu.
Yolanda Markopoulou and her collaborators have established long-term research and art practices on the issue of refugee. This years’ performance in the SYNIKISMOS festival follows previous work that also engaged closely with the subject and participants. The site-specific performance I_LEFT by the Station Athens group in the 2018 festival, highlighted recent stories of refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Now, as a second part of the project, Greek history is addressed. The space remains the same; common themes between refugee experiences provoke a certain truth about humanity and the importance of individual testimonies.
I_LEFT Asia Minor was re-presented as part of 2023 Eleusis’ tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe on 30/9/2022 – 9/10/2022 but also in the context of the Culture 2030 meeting of 2023 Eleusis on November 7, 8 and 9 2019 and on November 11 and 12, 2022.
Dramaturgy: Ioanna Valsamidou
Collaboration in Dramaturgy: Thanos Tsakalidis
Video Design: Erato Tzavara & Yolanda Markopoulou
Μusic Composition: dorόs
Costume Design: Paris Mexis
Research: The Group
Performers: Thanos Tsakalidis, Ifigeneia Karamitrou
Live Music: dorόs - Nikolas Angelopoulos (lute, lavta), Dimitris Brendas (clarinet, kaval),
Alexis Nonis (percussion), Nikos Skafidas (violin), Christos Syngelos (oud)
Technical Direction: Nikos Charalambidis
Production Management: Vicky Strataki
Sound Design (video): Lambros Pigounis
Set and Costume Design Assistant: Sofialena Ksezonaki
Location Manager: Marilena Moschou
Production Assistants 2019: Tzeni Anagnostopoulou, Tania Koutala, Elena Livathinou, Νastia Livathinou, Evgenia Pouli, Aidan Tong / 2022: Eleanna Konsta, Panagiotis Babas, Oleg Dergatsiov, Sotiris Rozis and Fiorida Chenai
English surtitles: Myrto Giannakopoulou
Produced by: 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture and POLYPLANITY Productions
Special thanks to Kelly Diapoulli, Philippos Koutsaftis for the archive material of the film Τhe Mourning Rock,Archibishop Serafeim Dritsas, Christos Delaportas, Kostantina Tyrlis, Kostis Pavlopoulos, Sakis Stritsidis, Sasa Papachristopoulou, Paminos Kyrkinis and Andrew Visnewsky.