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Literature & art unite for the 6th caryatid

FROM THE 21st to the 23rd December, a unique literature and art event is happening at the Black Duck bistro multiplarte in downtown Athens. Situated in the vicinity of the Athens City Museum (Vourous-Eutaxias Foundation), not only can you enjoy a drink and some super culinary treats at the venue’s bistro here, but you will also find the exhibition ‘EKTI/METAFORES’ (‘Sixth/Τransfers’), which accompanies the book (written in Greek) ‘EKTI kai alles afigiseis’ (‘Sixth and other stories’) by Vicky Kosmopoulou. Twelve artists’ works that relate to the book’s theme of the 6th caryatid in the British Museum, are comprised in the exhibition. From 7pm on December 21, and until the end of the exhibition, the writer will also be present in order to talk about her book and to sign copies.

Kosmopoulou’s new book ‘EKTI’ delves into the mind of the sixth caryatid, that stands alone in the British Museum. Rather like Virginia Wolfe’s Mrs Dalloway, and in a similar stream of consciousness fashion, she reminisces about how she got there, the circumstances, the horrors, the ‘madness’ of revolution, and the many sides to her displaced predicament. The stories of other characters are also added to the mix, playing the role of the chorus as in ancient Greek theatre: an immigrant who went to Canada, a homeless person, the women from Souli, the other five caryatids in Athens, an adopted child, a border guard, a baby, Melina Mercouri, and others. In the second section of the book, other sculptures that have been displaced also find their voice.

Work by Ioanna Michopoulou

The release of ‘EKTI’ was delayed due to the pandemic. “In the end, however, she had the good fortune to find herself at the publishing house Eumaros, where she found her home and was taken care of as she should have been. In addition, part of the revenue from the book’s sales will be donated to the Heart and Lung Transplant Association ‘I Skytali’, explains writer Vicky Kosmopoulou.

All are welcome to come and visit this three-day event which combines literature with the visual arts in such a creative manner. Undoubtedly, the sixth caryatid in the British museum has served as a supreme cultural ambassador of Hellenism and the Hellenic spirit there. One hopes that if Kosmopoulou’s book ‘EKTI’, gets translated into English, that the sixth caryatid’s ‘voice’ could travel further, outside of Greece, and so to communicte even more the cause of bringing her back home.  

‘Abstract Acropolis’, by Stella Sevastopoulos

The works in the exhibition ‘Sixth/Transfers’ add a visual narrative to the book’s themes and characters. The twelve artists were asked to connect with the book via their art, and specific excerpts from the book accompany the works in the exhibition. For example, for Stella Sevastopoulos’s work ‘The Return’, which depicts the return of the sixth caryatid, the artist places her protagonist in a fantasy world full of flowers from Greek mythology/art, where Lykabettus Hill stands in the distance. The work relates to the section in the book where the sixth caryatid states the following: “I, at least, became a European. I’m not that far from the homeland, either mentally or physically. That’s why I thought that my return would be an easy affair, with the protection of Athena and Poseidon.” And for the work ‘Abstract Acropolis’, it was the following statement of the sixth caryatid that inspired the work: “As I have understood so far, the suffering of the people has no end. It seems to me like a thread is constantly unraveling in a repeating pattern. And yet, somewhere there, in between the woven threads, one can distinguish colors and flashes of fake gold.”

‘The Return’, by Stella Sevastopoulos

Artist/journalist Stella Sevastopoulos caught up with Vicky Kosmopoulou to discuss the book ‘EKTI’:

How did this book come about?

‘EKTI’ is an existential, social book that is inspired by loss and history, without being a purely historical book. The idea of the book began, when part of the first section was distinguished in a competition of the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece and the National Historical Museum. It took a little searching and a lot of caring, in order to write it.

How long did it take to write?

The main body (the tragic monologue of the ‘Sixth’) was written over a period of about a year, and then the rest of the narratives (of fictional characters) were completed, which function as the chorus/testimonies.

Apart from being a writer, you are also a psychologist. How has this affected your writing?

Being a psychologist always affects my writing in some way. I am interested in sketching my heroes as fully as I can on a mental level with a literary touch.

You also have a special connection with the Greek diaspora, something which has also influenced your perception of the sixth caryatid.

As a child of immigrants I have put elements of immigration and refugeeship into this book. The absence of the ‘Sixth’ also has elements of uprooting and nostalgia, processes endured by all people who leave their place.

‘Hurdles’ by Kate Horti

Participating artists: Maria Argyrakopoulou, Zanna Artemi, Panos Yiakas, Klemi Diamantopoulou, Olga Lathyri, Ioanna Michopoulou, Dimitris Pappous, Aikaterini Pouliasi, Maria Sakka, Stella Sevastopoulos, Katerina Stavridi, Katy Horti, and the writer Vicky Kosmpopoulou will also be present at the exhibition.

Exhibition curator: Dimitra Apostolou

Exhibition opening: 21 December, 7pm

Exhibition duration: 21-23 December

Open hours: 13.00-22.00

  • Black Duck Multiplarte is on 9a Christou Lada St, Athens, 210-3234760
  • This article has been written by artist/journalist Stella Sevastopoulos, who runs Art Scene Athens. You can check out her online art portfolio here
Writer/psychologist Vicky Kosmopoulou with her new book ‘EKTI’

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