GAVDOS: THE HOUSE

A performance first presented in 2012 at the archaeological space of Katalymata

Concept/directed by: Efthimis Theou
Devised and performed by: Elektra Angelopoulou, Anthi Efstratiadou, Efthimis Theou
Graphics design: Hong Rui Choo
Photographs: Thodoris Thomadakis, Christina Papoulia
Video: Thodoris Thomadakis, Giorgos Nikolakakis
With the collaboration of: Mariana Tzani, Panagiotis Katsolis, Philippa Karamolegou
 
Part of the interdisciplinary research program of the University of Crete at Gavdos Island.
 
The performance Gavdos: The House centers around the Bronze Age dwelling complex of Katalymata, excavated since 2005 by the University of Crete on the island of Gavdos, southern frontier of Greece and the southeasternmost part of the European territory.
 
A two-years-long preparation period was organized by the artistic team (consisting of both performers and archaeologists) that included excavation, ethnographic research, study of the archaeological finds, communal writing and rehearsals.
 
In August 2012 the performance was presented to an audience of 250 people, members of the local community and visitors. The event that took place around and inside the eleven rooms of the Prehistoric building, involved: a structured narrative on diachronic theoretic, material and cultural aspects and meanings of house structures and dwelling attitudes; scientific information from the excavation notebooks; and native memories of traditional life instances ‘at home’. The house as a security zone, as a space for the production of fantasies, as a place to live and die. For 40 minutes the three performers were communicating to the public texts, stories, experiences and ideas connected to the phenomenon of the house. Their speech, organized in solos and duets, varied from prose to rhythmical speech or even singing.
 
The performance aimed, mainly, to introduce the prehistoric site at Katalymata to the local community as a familiar, living space – as a vibrant gift in return instead of a secluded, inanimate sector of its ‘cultural heritage’. Also to incite its student and senior excavators to experience the place as a long-lasting embodied topos, allowing for alternative achaeological approaches and fresh interdisciplinary insights.
 

Since its premiere, this work has been touring in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, as an independent theatrical piece, but also as an alternative, embodied narrative of both the excavation at Katalymata and the whole island of Gavdos. Each time, the performance is of course adapted to be compatible with different scenic forms and media, in our continuing efforts to explore how such a project can function even outside the archaeological space which inspired it, and how it can develop as the future unfolds. So far,

– It has been presented at historic houses and other lived-in monuments, namely: in an abandoned apartment in the centre of Athens (MIRfestival); in a house of refugees from the 1920s, the dormitory of Aristotle University, and an artist’s studio apartment in Thessaloniki (Imagined Homes, State Museum of Contemporary Art); as well as in a mansion of the 19th century Muslim community in Irakleio, Crete (MonitorFest). In all these instances, the original performance was re-organised and adapted to the different rooms and spaces of each building, and to their functions and history: we used an analogy with those of the Bronze Age building at Katalymata, our first source of inspiration.

– Invited by the Goethe Institute, The Temporary Academy of Arts and the Actopolis—The Art of Action project, the work was presented as a lecture performance in Germany, Serbia and Greece. In all these cases, the Gavdos excavation remains the key reference, but the script is enriched with new texts which permit to explore alternative modes of dwelling and contemporary urban living—the main theme of the Actopolis project.

– The video of the 2012 performance was displayed in the framework of three exhibitions of contemporary art, in Thessaloniki (Imagined Homes, State Museum of Contemporary Art) and Athens (Fever of the Antique, Association of Greek Archaeologists, [Out]topias, Benaki Museum), together with documentation material, photographs, printed texts and archaeological drawings and reports, as well as audio tracks, which illustrated its birth, but also the methodology that we suggest when adopting such a “different” approach to the monuments and other ancient finds. As a parallel event to the latter exhibition, we organised a round table discussion on the interplay between archaeology and the performing arts (click here).

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