Concept + Directing: Elli Papakonstantinou
Performers: Pantelis Makkas, Tilemachos Moussas, Rosa Prodromou
Text: Rosa Prodromou, Elli Papakonstantinou
Set + Costume design: Aristotelis Karananos & Alexandra Siafkou
Visuals + Installation: Pantelis Makkas
Live music + Sound design: Tilemachos Moussas
Produced by ODC ENSEMBLE
Find out when & where – here
Award-winning REVOLT AT HENΣ relates criticism and poetry avoiding radical “in-your-face” political discourse and it is highly interactive. Rejecting the flat, washed out image often painted of Greece’s capital, this is an Athens that’s bursting with life. In “Revolt Athens”, the three-piece, politically-minded cast offer insights into post-crisis Greece. In OD C Ensemble’s unique city guide, activist communities are framed in terms of Greece’s wider history; intertwined with figures of Greek mythology, there are tear gas-choked riots against government austerity cutbacks. Combining actors, video footage and music, it’s a multi-faceted window into the living and breathing reality of a place.
REVOLT ATHENΣ was proudly presented for the European Parliament fo r Culture in the frame of the Operadagen Festival 2017.
It was furthermore, awarded a First Prize Award for the REP, Birmingham at the BE Festival in July 2017.
Αwarded a First Prize Award for the REP, Birmingham at the BE Festival in July 2017.
Proudly presented for the European Parliament for Culture in 2017.
‘Outstanding performance about social & political actuality in Athens.’ Operadagen Festival
‘A brilliant performance…’ DEUTSCHE WELLE
‘Totally mad and mesmerizing… See it to believe it’. THE GUARDIAN
‘A bomb exploding at the foundations of the Greek festival!’ ATHINORAMA
‘Tremendous aesthetic craft…a perfect combination of different arts.’ CNN GREECE
‘An outstanding performance with a truly fresh approach.’ BBC WORLDWIDE
2018 NEFELI edition
Lived Aesthetics of Crisis and Performance Politics of Discontent
[…] Revolt Athens (2015-17)
Revolt Athens can be regarded as ODC’s intermedia piece par excellence, embodying the lived aesthetics of crisis in a dense visual, aural, spatiogeographic, and performative assemblage. More-over, the performance represented the most geographically and socio-culturally explicit work by ODC to date, matching content with context. The piece was put together as a multi-tonal audio-visual performance, a bittersweet, twisted travelogue bursting with joie de vivre5, at times confessional, anguished, desperate, sarcastic, aggressive, even raging. The piece drew on the harsh realities of crisis-struck Athens and the dystopic everyday life in the city. The main performer, Rosa Prodromou, exemplified the struggle of any person/ woman/ artist to maintain a sense of normality and grounding, seeking empathy and communication, whilst global and local neoliberal politics keep rendering human lives more and more vulnerable, destabilised, mediatised, precarious.
The space evoked an improvised environment with a sense of urgency, a sort of crudely-made miniature construction site, a mix-and-match landscape of odd objects and emblems (a miniature Greek flag, the sacred rock of Acropolis) conjuring the urban land-scape of the city of Athens complete with Parthenon, Parliament (Syntagma Square), the port of Piraeus, and the often shanty-looking blocks of flats (polikatoikies). Specific neighborhoods such as Exarcheia, Koukaki, Petralona were named, in an attempt to create a mental mapping of Athens.
Using video art projections and live feed imagery as a backdrop, the three artists onstage (performer Rosa Prodromou, composer/ musician Tilemachos Moussas and visual artist Pantelis Makkas) constantly worked on setting and re-setting the stage. The core themes of the piece unfolded in short, fragmented narratives. Multiple brief scenes exposed the vulnerable psychology of the individual, the precarious everyday life, the socio-political conflicts and the spirit of revolt vis-à-vis austerity politics, the undermining of democracy and the workings of all sorts of cultural stereotypes.
The piece clearly took an anti-monumental stance at Greece’s glorified past, critically foregrounding it as a regressive, oppressive, and limiting cultural construction. At the same time, the cur-rent confrontational reality and the crisis-induced degradation was visualised in the form of projections of Athens riots and the Aganaktismenoi’s political demonstrations. The iconography of street protests also served as a sort of counter-monument, a fragmented allusion to the “Acropolis burning.”
Oddly enough, some fundamental components of this aesthetics of crisis—as articulated in the works examined so far—can be regarded as unorthodox, even typically extra-aesthetic elements, which are, at any rate, primarily experiential: feelings of discontent and precariousness that are channeled through the piece, but also the state of agency, presence, and urgency that pervades the audience. Art critic Hal Foster recently identified the precarious as a basic concept which we can use to critically engage with contemporary art of the last twenty-five years, utilising it almost as a distinct aesthetic and conceptual term in its own right.
Papakonstantinou and ODC essentially work along such over-lapping lines and concepts: establishing the precarious state of living in Athens/ Greece today, not only as a predicament, or mere entrepreneurial artistic strategy, but principally as an act of re- sistance and a persevering active presence. ODC’s performative energies and live art strategies go beyond the representation or anticipated avant-garde theatricality. Capitalising on lived experiences and socio-political awareness, ODC’s work bursts with the power of live art, urging us to revolt by way of questioning our empirical reality and critically engaging with it. […]
2018 NEFELI edition
page 68, 70
ODC and the Politics of Desire
There is a moment in ODC’s Revolt Athens (2016) where Rosa Prodromou (whose attire recalls murals from the Minoan palace of Knossos) climbs on a platform on which stands a model rep-resenting the city of Athens. While she sings a nursery rhyme, she throws mud onto the Greek capital and then starts ‘drilling’ the model of the Acropolis that overlooks the city. Her image is projected on the screen behind her, as she stands on top of the ‘sacred’ hill surrounded by a cloud of dust, which alongside the live soundscapes generates a dystopian vision where Athens is destroyed by a gigantic figure from the mythical past. This image seems to encapsulate what I seek to outline below as a politics of desire; an emancipatory politics that operates within a multi-disciplinary artistic environment and through flows of affects rather than semiotic systems; a “plane of consistency of multi-plicities,” as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari would have it. And it is on this plane of consistency, I will argue, that ODC’s political vision proliferates. […]
Tell me what to do, what, to escape this lament, to escape this misery […]
Tell me what to do, what, to not feel useless Tell me what to do, what, to draw a path
Tell me what to do, what, so that I am not simply… an artist.
(ODC, Revolt Athens)
The above words, angrily uttered by Prodromou in Revolt Athens, vent the frustration shared by many (artists) in Greece that feel useless, redundant, helpless: after six years of economic and social depression, Greeks seem to have yielded to narratives and experiences of crisis, misery and fear, lamenting the loss of times past and future; a state of uncertainty from which there is no apparent exit. What might art do in a time oppressed by the single and singular narrative of crisis? What can the artist do in a time de-lineated by such a politics of fear? Such questions, addressed in Revolt Athens, echo Deleuze and Guattari’s point of departure in their critique of the repression of desire: “Is it really necessary or desirable to submit to such repression?” The dystopian vision of a destroyed Athens towards the end of Revolt Athens with which I started this short essay operates at the same time as a visualisation of the entrapment of Greece in the national politics of fear and as an expression of a multiplicity of repressed desires to break away from the affective economies of crisis. Submission, in this sense, is neither necessary nor desirable; the way out of the experience of stagnation, ODC seem to suggest, lies with acts of desire that (if only on the level of representation) reverse the affects of fear. Such an assemblage of multiplicities, I wish to argue, constitutes a first step towards the proliferation of an emancipatory politics of desire. […]
Athens-Epidaurus Festival # 1 – Opening on History
Posted by Editorial | Jul 4, 2016 | Featured , On Line , Looks on Greece |
But today in Greece, history also pulses in the breath of the present, as shown by the work of Elli Papakonstantinou , director of the cultural space “Vyrsodepseio” in Athens, born from the reconversion of the largest tannery in the Balkans of the nineteenth century: the activity craft-industrial art is now replaced by the artistic gesture (dance, exhibitions, music, theater). Since 2011 this is the headquarters of the ODC company, oriented to cross- cultural, interdisciplinary and political projects in a broad sense, because dedicated to the reflection on the polis . The imprint is also recognizable in Re-Volt Athens, hybrid performance (word, music, images), initially conceived for a foreign audience: after Barcelona, Vienna and Berlin, it is now shown to the Greeks with the same intent to draw, between tragedy and irony, a ‘poetic cartography of Athens’ . A city-myth, a glossy postcard for tourists, but also a chaotic metropolis, symbol of a Greece crushed by the crisis, devastated by the flows of refugees and street demonstrations. Opposite and complementary faces of a collective imagination often nourished by stereotypes.
An actress (Roza Prodromou) illustrates the monumental and scenic wonders with the rhetoric as a tour guide and also comic effects. Athens is described in words, evoked by a miniature model and completed by images that scroll on the screen. The idyllic profile is punctuated by shadows, as in the eloquent sequence chosen also for the teaser : at the top of the Acropolis the Hellenic flag is waving, soon covered by a black cloud, real or drawn that is, metaphor of a murky horizon that pollutes the very identity of Greece. The guide becomes an ardent pasionariawhich denounces the tragedy of the present (unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicides), on the edge of images and live music, up to the very strong final scene, a perfect synthesis of the director’s aesthetic and political intentions. Now she clutches in the hands of the snakes, his face is deformed in a cry of rage and horror, iconic representation of Medusa or the Minoan Goddess of the Serpents, as noted by the critic Dimitris Tsatsoulis (“imerodromos”, 06/18/2016). With an impetuous gesture she destroys the entire miniature of Athens, while on the screen the images of protesters, clashes with the police and hell of flames. Chaos and catastrophe, destruction of ancient and contemporary myths. Is it the end of civilization? Rather, a liberating gesture: from the abyss may arise the rebirth and so, swept away the Athens “of others”, it is possible to open a new page.
Historical truth and realistic politics
[…] Elli Papakonstantinou forges a political/theatrical discourse, which comes without syntheses and recapitulations, without conclusions, still less without precepts, a discourse inhabited by sarcasm, self-sarcasm and irony […]. The director’s political discourse is relevant to every European capital inhabited by army reserves of the unemployed, citizens who are both culturally marginalised and politically displaced: what is under threat here is also at stake there […] The symbol of the Minoan goddess of snakes with her bare breasts, a symbol of both élan vital and of a dark finale, ultimately prevails over all images and words. […]
The revolution of myths
[…] Elli Papakonstantinou created a complex project, open to interpretation and with tremendous aesthetic craft; […] a perfect combination of different arts.
We saw Revolt Athens
Yesterday, it felt as if a bomb, planted at the foundations of the festival, went off. Revolt Athens, a purposefully disturbing and chaotic performance launched this year’s programme at the Peiraios 260 venue, provoking a number of reactions, ranging from the most enthusiastic to the most negative. It makes sense; the performance had nothing commeilfaut about it; nothing that could make us talk today about a “brilliant opening night.” […]. Papakonstantinou and her ensemble do not beat around the bush: what they really wish to do is to (re)negotiate our turbulent historic present. Their project is not one of politeness and rhetoric. Neither is it, necessarily, a radical suggestion of escape. It is, however, a project charged with emotion – rage, anger, complaint, despair and a sincere awkwardness vis-à-vis the Now becoming History. […]
At the Athens Festival premier
[…] Elli Papakonstantinou dares to speak out about painful things, both in Greece and abroad. She toys with clichés and turns them upside down, leading Revolt Athens to its chaotic denouement, its culmination perhaps serving as an exorcism or as a warning. After all, she has, as we already know by now, a flair for the creation of such moments of euphoric stage anarchy […]