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Parthenon Rising

2010-2011

Two centuries ago, the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley claimed, on the eve of the Greek Revolution: "We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece". In the aftermath of the Eurozone debt crisis, however, the international climate became very different. As European politicians and media suggested that Greece should sell some of its most famous islands, or even, the Parthenon to pay back its debts, it became obvious that the nature of the economic crisis had come to question (even just nominally) fundamental elements of the Western world's cultural identity. It is this deeper cultural crisis that underpins 'Parthenon Rising'. The work functions as a visual "crescendo", which moves from total darkness and "perplexity" to total light and "clarity". The original footage, edited in the video, was filmed on the only night of the year that the Acropolis is open to the public. Thousands of locals and tourists climb the ancient hill on this occasion to capture the relics' images with their cameras. As all lights are off, all monuments, including the Parthenon, can be clearly seen only when the flashlights of the cameras momentarily illuminate them. It is a spectacle that illuminates an aspect of the monument significantly different from that of a familiar icon. Interestingly, at the same time, it is a spectacle that also reveals a lot about the diverse crowds from around the world that stand in front of the ancient temple, trying to capture its image and, perhaps along with it, part of its myth. Yet, under the conditions of constant crisis and spectacularization, can this myth remain the product of a "deep" and "real" symbol? Can the Parthenon be something more than merely a surface waiting to be photographed and "sold"? Can it avoid the danger of becoming the architectural equivalent of a Hollywood star standing on the red carpet? The contradictory nature of the video's images, which are at once beautiful and violent, may epitomize the contradictions experienced in the psyche of a whole country and, perhaps, the contradictions characterizing a whole social and cultural paradigm.

The work exists in two versions-iterations: 'Parthenon Rising' is a looped, gallery-based installation without sound, while 'Parthenon Rising (II)' is a short film version (2' 45'') with sound.

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