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Elefsina’s title year as European Capital of Culture came to an end with an exciting and moving three-day celebration!

 

Immersed in joy and gratitude, the city of Elefsina celebrated from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 December with an exciting three-day event to mark the completion of its title year as European Capital of Culture. Ten venues across the city opened their doors, hosting a rich programme of projects and events: the first edition of the new IN SITU REALITIES – Eleusis Documentary Festival, art exhibitions, concerts, workshops, and original activities for young and old alike. A great celebration across the city for the whole city, its residents, and visitors, which will be remembered for a long time by those who experienced it.

The celebrations started with the opening of the Old Oil Mill Factory Warehouses, as well as the solo exhibition Mystery 87 I My Sea Journey, I My Land Claim by the award-winning artist Stefania Strouza, attended by representatives from the Municipality of Elefsina, the National Bank of Greece – sponsor of the restoration of the three Warehouses – and distinguished figures of the literary and artistic world.

The first day of the three-day celebration was dedicated to the People/Society axis. In this context, the iconic Cine Eleusis was reopened after 35 years, inaugurating at the same time the legacy project of 2023 Eleusis , IN SITU REALITIES – Eleusis Documentary Festival

The Mayor of Elefsina and Chairperson of the Board of 2023 Eleusis, Mr. Nikolaos Villiotis, made public the Municipal Council of Elefsina’s unanimous decision to name the main hall of Cine Eleusis as “Despoina Geroulanou,” describing the organisation’s former Chairperson “as a unique and wonderful individual, whom we want to honour today.” Pavlos Geroulanos made a heartfelt speech at Cine Eleusis, commemorating his late sister: “Despoina and Elefsina have now become one. Her love for this place kept her alive and creative beyond her own expectations. And Despoina dedicated this life to this city with love, faith, and work.” The CEO of 2023 Eleusis, Ms. Nana Spyropoulou, highlighted the important history of Cine Eleusis and the Old Oil Mill Factory Warehouses, as well as her personal, long-term association with the development of these two important infrastructures, which will remain as a legacy to the city of Elefsina.

 

 

The General Artistic Director of 2023 Eleusis, Mr. Michail Marmarinos, after welcoming the attendees to the “Unprecedented,” spoke about the importance of a Cultural Capital in terms of the promoting, discovering, and developing its tangible and intangible heritage, through the aid of Art, Culture, and Research. Then, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr. Christos Dimas, expressed in his brief address his sincere appreciation to 2023 Eleusis, stating that the intention of the Ministry of Culture is to continue to support the institution after the end of the title year, in order to ensure the smooth continuation of the legacy left to the city. The Director of Cultural Development, Gogo Voudouri, presented the rich programme of IN SITU REALITIES Eleusis Documentary Festival, which includes documentary works inspired by Elefsina and the surrounding region, created in the framework of the 2023 Eleusis programme. Right after, the packed hall was filled with images from the Mystery 31 THE ELEUSINIANS by Filippos Koutsaftis, a documentary ode to the city of Elefsina, in its national premiere.

The event was honoured with the presence of George Kotsiras, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Athanasios Bouras, Member of Parliament, Attica B Constituency (West); Stamatis Poulis, Special Advisor, Ministry of Labour; Lefteris Kosmopoulos, Deputy Local Governor, West Attica; Evangelos Liakos, Member of Parliament, Attica B Constituency (West); and many other representatives of institutional agencies and organisations.

The second day of the celebrations, having ENVIRONMENT as its main theme and led by the Cultterra youth group, began with a youthful procession on wheels that, as it reached the ARKOPOLIS, marked the inauguration of the first ever Skatepark in West Attica, created by the Onassis Foundation as an exclusive donation to the Municipality of Elefsina. Then, under the curatorship of Lambros Liavas, the last action for the Mystery 100 Sacred Songs, dedicated to Christmas, took place at the X-Bowling Art Center. The event ended in the early morning, with the big party of the Closing Ceremony at the ELEOURGIKI INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, to the sounds of DJs AD MARK, ELIOT, FO, THANASIS KARANIKAS and IRINI KARAOGLOU.

Sunday morning saw the inauguration of the Canteen art hub on the city’s coastal front, another place of special significance. The event was honoured with the presence of the Vice-Regional Governor of West Attica, Lefteris Kosmopoulos, representatives of the sponsoring company KARPATHIOS S.A., the Deputy Mayor in charge of Sanitation, Leonidas Pappas, institutional agencies, representatives of the local community, artists, and numerous visitors. Immediately afterwards, reversing the gesture of the Opening Ceremony, where a mythical entity emerged from the Gulf of Elefsina, the action Immersion: an unexpected set was inaugurated. A sculptural structure four meters in diameter, a golden mirror, bearing the inscription-oracle “I am surely not What should be, but I am a face of what is missing but Is,” began a descent to finally submerge beneath the surface of the sea that same evening.

Later on, Juan Sandoval’s imposing exhibition Mystery 111 Eleusis Terracotta Army, a project of strategic importance of the WORK axis, was inaugurated. More than 2,000 handmade clay helmets belonging to local workers and labourers “occupied” the former paint factory, transforming industrial human history into a sculptural army. The Mayor of Elefsina Mr. Nikos Villiotis, the CEO of 2023 Eleusis Nana Spyropoulou, the General Artistic Director Michail Marmarinos, the Director of Contemporary Art Zoe Moutsokou, the artist Juan Sandoval, and Maria Tzani, one of the participants in the project, addressed the audience.

That afternoon, an unexpected parade through the streets of Elefsina took place as part of the Mystery 125 Elefsina Community Orchestra & Choir, under the curatorship of musician Aleksandar Carić and with the participation of 150 Elefsinians. The action culminated with a moving concert with sounds and melodies inspired by the sonic memory of the city’s inhabitants, inaugurating the packed ELEOURGIKI. The choir was attended by members of the Children Support Centre of Elefsina “Friendly Nest”΄; the Day Care Center for People with Disabilities “Oloi Emeis”; the 7th Elementary School of Elefsina; Cultterra; the Elderly Open Care Center of Elefsina; the music association ORFEUS – Elefsina Philharmonic, Magoula; the Orquestra Criativa de Santa Maria da Feira from Portugal; the 2023 Eleusis team; the composer and music teacher Dimitris Andronis and his students; the Elefsinian artist Aimilios Bartzis; and, of course, the residents of Elefsina and Magoula.

 

The closing ceremony concluded on Sunday evening with the final stage of the Immersion: an unexpected set. The sculptural mirror sank into the horizon and was submerged, carrying its message to the Underworld. The cycle was now completed. Persephone returned.

From Friday to Sunday, in the context of the first IN SITU REALITIES – Eleusis Documentary Festival, during its first days, films of important creators premiered at the Cine Eleusis, framed by important masterclasses by Filippos Koutsaftis, Menelaos Karamaghiolis and, in the following days, by Eva Stefani and Syllas Tzoymerkas. At the same time, film workshops and screenings for children and teenagers were held at the Canteen art hub, in collaboration with the Peloponnisos International Documentary Film Festival and the Exile Room, while the former Orfeas Movie Theatre hosted the art installation Mystery 110 Orfeas by Eva Stefani. The Festival continues until Tuesday 19 December. See the programme here.

 

Furthermore, Mystery 6 As lovely as here, it could never be in Paradise, a lighting installation by Flux Office, was activated for the very first time at the Old Oil Mill Factory. Finally, throughout the three-day event, in the 10 venues and events that were inaugurated, the festive tone was set by the impressive lighting of the buildings, the sound of a saxophone, and a red ribbon, while the emblematic chimneys of Elefsina, those of the TITAN factory and the former IRIS factory, were illuminated in the colours of the European Capital of Culture. The lighting of the chimneys, as well as the sculpture that dived into the horizon of the Gulf of Elefsina, was undertaken by the distinguished Eleftheria Deko.

 

Special credit

In the framework of the 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture, in collaboration with the Municipality and the Municipal Authority, the Ministry of Culture, the Region of Attica, and with the generous contributions of sponsors, five sites were renovated and delivered to the city of Elefsina. In particular: Cine Eleusis was renovated thanks to a sponsorship by HELLENIC PETROLEUM; the Warehouses of the Old Oil Mill Factory were renovated thanks to a sponsorship by the National Bank of Greece; the ELEOURGIKI Industrial Complex was renovated thanks to a sponsorship by the AIGEAS company; the Canteen art hub was renovated thanks to a sponsorship by Karpathios S.A.; and the Old Town Hall was renovated thanks to a sponsorship by ΜΕΤRΟΝ S.A.

The lighting on the chimneys of the ΤΙΤΑΝ and IRIS factories is realised thanks to a sponsorship by ΤΙΤΑΝ.

Continuing until January

Mystery 151 A Rave Down Below, a group exhibition curated by Panos Giannikopoulos at the Old Oil Mill Factory; at the old cinema Orfeas; Mystery 110 Orfeas, a video Installation by Eva Stefani, at the Leonidas Kanellopoulos Cultural Centre; Mystery 8 European Eyes on Japan: The Return of the Spring and Other Rites of Transition, a photography exhibition by Antonis Theodoridis, co-organised by 2023 Eleusis and Mikiko Kikuta with the support of the EU-Japan Fest Committee; as well as the exhibition of the Elefsina Photography Club entitled “Days With Photography in Elefsina” at the Old Town Hall.

Continuing until February

Mystery 87 I My Sea Journey, I My Land Claim by Stefania Strouza at the Old Oil Mill Factory,

as well as more than 20 works in public spaces, waiting to be discovered by the audience.

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Mystery 112: Maria Papadimitriou Dual Theatre, Or On Friendship

Mystery 112: Dual Theatre, Or On Friendship, a work by the distinguished artist Maria Papadimitriou, which includes a series of open fiction art workshops for – and with – the residents of Elefsina, will be presented from 22 January to 29 February.


Mystery 137 Transition Towards Professional Solidarity

A series of discussions, workshops and events will be organised from 6 to 10 March by 2023 Eleusis, in collaboration with the Culture for Change network, regarding the future and the development of collective initiatives by professionals in the cultural sector.


Mystery 176 Cinema Days

2023 Eleusis organizes screenings of documentary works related to its artistic program, the city, as well as contemporary reflections on key and timeless issues. Always with a hidden ambition to transform Eleusis into a landmark of a unique cinematic experience.


Mystery 20 Performing Arts Initiator – Narrative Archaeology

2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture organises for the first time on 29 and 30 March, at the Elefsina Old Oil Mill Factory, the conference “Narrative Archaeology | Performance in archaeological sites and excavation of human experience.” This two-day meeting takes place in the framework of the composite art activity Mystery 20 Performing Arts Initiator – Narrative Archaeology, with the aim of promoting an interdisciplinary dialogue between Arts and Archaeology.

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