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Through the eyes of Thanasis Leventis

An exhibition about the “Educational and Cultural Association of Elefsina”


Spring 1957, Elefsina. 

A group of young people in the city begin the first attempts to create a cultural association. Similar associations exist in the capital and in various cities of the country. The current climate is favourable for such initiatives, the shortages and needs in the region are considerable. Suggestions to this effect are made from many parts of the Left and beyond. In the 1950s, there are other associations in Elefsina that pursue similar activities: the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Clubs, the Union of Naturalists, the Mountaineering Association, local clubs, sports clubs, etc. as well as the Labour Centre of Elefsina with its dozens of unions, which develops a strong trade union activity. 

The Association is very prominent, actively participating in cultural events. For ten years, its club in the city centre operates daily, with a reading room, a lending library and a lecture hall. The monthly magazine TO FOS [The Light] is published with limited financial means for more than two years. 

This activity is a serious collective effort that is both substantial and long-lasting. 

– It significantly influences intellectual and cultural life in Elefsina and the nearby towns during the decade 1957-1967. 

– It activates local forces, stimulates intellectual interest, fosters awareness and the willingness − especially among young people − to participate and contribute.

– It provides multifaceted work, which is groundbreaking for the time and the place where it unfolded. 

The Junta dissolves the Association. 

Many of its members are arrested and exiled. Its assets are confiscated and more than 1,000 books from its library and archives disappear, except for a small part which is concealed and preserved. After the fall of the Junta, a group of old members of the Association, along with new friends, set about reactivating it. It was active in 1974-76, but conditions had changed. The intellectual and cultural activity of the city is taken over by the new municipal authority of Elefsina, which includes several old members of the Association. Over time the Municipality of Elefsina develops a strong cultural presence, with the Aeschylia festival and other events gradually absorbing any similar activities by various local clubs and the Cultural Association, which dwindles and ceases to operate. 

(It should be noted that at no point during this exhibition did the materials cease to function as a critical reminder of a set of values that, while seemingly gone forever, remain relevant to any contemporary state.) 


Thanasis Leventis was born in Vilia, Attica, and lived in Elefsina during his school and university years. He studied at the Medical School of the University of Athens, where he was awarded a Doctorate and became an Assistant Professor. He specialised in Neurosurgery and worked for 36 years in the Public Health System as a Registrar and Head of major neurosurgery clinics.

He became involved in politics and participated in social struggles from his student years, starting with the Cultural Association of Elefsina, where he served as founding member, general secretary and president. He was elected five times MP for Attica representing the Left. He has served as deputy speaker of Parliament and member of several parliamentary committees. 

He has written two books: Reliving the Past with the Cultural Association of Elefsina and Traveller on Difficult Roads, a record of personal experiences that bears witness to a critical historical period for Greece.


The Exhibition presents a defining part of Thanasis Leventis’s personal archive, including the issues of the magazine, photographs from artistic events and memorable moments, the statutes of the Association’s foundation, the Library’s activity register and many other documents of the first cultural association of the city. The exhibition is accompanied by the cinematic vision of Menelaos Karamaghiolis with video documentation of the life and activities of Thanasis Leventis and the Association.

(For all the emotional power of the exhibits, this exhibition is not a museum piece. On the contrary, and very deliberately, its character is dynamic and forward-looking.) 

Text & Curation: Olga Ηatzidaki

TS, TS!…

(Tsakos – Tsingos)

Two great illustrators of the real:
one capturing and the other exalting
the ever-elusive reality
A text by Yannis Politakis, born in Elefsina, amateur beekeeper, accountant, seal maker, former sailor and employee of the Old Oil Factory of Elefsina
“The Mirror -Karoptron- a symbol of sophistication to complete the universe” – Proclus

Tragedy was born because the skies were empty
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