Concept + Assemblage + Directing: Elli Papakonstantinou
Performers: Adrian Frieling, Alkis Ζοupas, Valia Papachristou, Anastasia Katsinavaki, Nefeli Papaderou, Angelos Kalinoglou, Stella Christodoulopoulou, Davydd Cook, Thanos Kosmidis, Kosmas Hatzis, Elli Katsinavaki, Lefteris Zimianitis, Valeia Tzanetou
Later additions: Giannis Votsis, Eftychia Kiourtidou, Eva Faklari (second cast), Giannis Bogris, Nikolas Stravopodis (third cast)
Dramaturgy: Stathis Grafanakis
Musical composition + Sound design: Tilemachos Moussas
Set + Costume design: Aristotelis Karananos & Alexandra Siafkou
Choreography: Valia Papachristou & Christina Sougioultzi
Lighting design: Adrian Frieling
Stage management: Lengo Leventi
Assistant directors: Tomas Diafas, Davydd Cook, Semeli Chaviara
Produced by ODC Ensemble
GREECE / Athens / Vyrsodepseio / June 2012 – December 2013
CZECH REPUBLIC / Prague / presented at the 13th International Exhibition Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space at the Hellenic pavilion / May 2015
Inspired by the authoritarian state “Leviathan” by T. Hobbes, this is a site specific performance structured as a triptych in three different areas of Vyrsodepseio. SKIN is a poetic metaphor for the current state of Greek society into crisis and the development of a powerful authoritarian state-Leviathan, a conservative doctrine against human rights and freedom of thought.
(In a tannery, the workers came into contact with the skin of animals, offal, germs, blood and contaminated water. The idea of cleansing is a key thread of the dramatic fabric of the show and, with appropriate textual support, the space is used not only as a literal place (as a performance space), but also as a metaphorical space (as a tannery “purgatory”).
“Skin”, fencing utopia
This performance, which is the end result of a grueling and thorough research, is set up as a boxing ring. After several rounds, the two opponents collapse to the ground, looking forward to the next boxing match, looking forward to the next performance, the next trial.
Standing up we applauded the performance Skin. In awe we’re commenting…
[…] We applauded standing on our feet. We cannot rate this performance – installation, simply because this is a masterpiece!!! […] We were shocked and commenting […] Elli Papakonstantinou and talented OΔC team offered us a superb political spectacle, avant-garde resistance and finally left us with a deep feeling that our skin is the last fortress between us and the system. […]
We went to see: “Skin”
[…] The audience will understand from the very first scenes that they’re about to experience an alternative theatrical performance with postmodern aesthetic to represent and comment on the nightmarish aspects of neoliberalism, the mechanistic work and authoritarian state.
[…] Skin is an uncanny painting with familiar touches of horror. The audience’s collaboration and complicity are required. Hobbes’ theory of the autocratic state, Dionysios Solomos’ vision of national sovereignty, Dalai Lama’s teachings, American-style consumerism, anti-capitalist commentary, psychoanalytic approaches, all are brought together in this unique puzzle which gives food for thought and asks to be deciphered. […]
The skin we used to live in
[…] SKIN is a personal comment on the question of “Greekness” and the crisis of western Capitalist system, developed as a triptych and is spread over three different areas of an ex-tannery. Elli Papakonstantinou intersects these issues not with the precision of a scalpel, but with rough rawness that requires stripping down to one’s nakedness. […]
Α trip to Utopia
[…] SKIN performance is a powerful experience and is ideal for equally intense debates. And it’s worth, since it’s awesome.
[…] a message subversive and simultaneously denouncing the entire political system: actors’ physicality and deeds are particularly eloquent, to the extent that speech sounds redundant. […] If theatre is an empty space that is meant to be revisited, with each new performance presented at Vyrsodepseio Papakonstantinou restructures the entire space to match her dramatic concept. The interior of the building is reshaped to receive a site-specific performance, with the director employing new ideas, new structural material and new spaces, wherein the audience can wander.
2018 NEFELI edition
page 100, 106.
Lived Aesthetics of Crisis and Performance Politics of Discontent
[…] Skin (2012-13)
This work was also created as a site-specific promenade performance largely inspired by the site of Vyrsodepseio, making the most out of existing materials and the building’s multi-layered past uses and functions. The concepts of factory/tannery and product/skin operated on a twofold level, both literally (past) and metaphorically (present). Audiences came across an unnerving contemporary factory where not only human skin, but also civic consciousness, cultural conceptions and constructions were processed.
By turns employing irony, black humour, and existential angst, the performance forced us to reflect on the mechanistic and repetitive nature of work in the industrial societies through to the late capitalist era, with its growing monotony, apathy, and alienation. The performance also served as a reflection on anthropophagia (cannibalism) and the integral transformation of modern life into spectacle. At a conceptual level, there was an interplay of spatialities from the industrial to the national, historic, social and cultural spaces. Spaces were often merged and deconstructed in a critical, violent and grotesque way. Among the issues put forward were the conditions of mechanistic production and reproduction, blocked mourning, fear of freedom of speech, and, above all, the dehumanising cynicism which is typical of all power structures and profit-making schemes.
As with After, the intriguing treatment of space and mobility played a key role in gripping the audience’s imagination: the labyrinthine, rather uncertain route from the outdoor courtyard to the inner building; the site-specific, otherworldly visual installations and the sense of boundless, infinite interior, as well as the audience’s constantly shifting point of view. These were important strategies of disorientation, forging at times a contradictory per-ception of the architectural space as dreamy or nightmarish. This atmospheric merging of the outer and inner performance spaces created a strong impression of converging, as well as conflicting spaces, both personal and collective.
Loosely composed as a modular triptych, the piece had an ex-tended prologue taking place outdoors, followed by more live acts indoors. An underground lake was set up in the flooded space (previously foyer). Spectators were carried across by a boatman on a makeshift floating raft, drifting along past a series of brief visual tableaux that came momentarily alive under the gaze of the spectators. This part was meant as a symbolic entrance to the under-world. The same intense visual and physical approach was maintained throughout the piece, with the main factory area functioning as the allegorical space of embodied “human skin processing.” In the final segment, the space was transformed into a dark circus, a phantasmagoria of acrobatics.
In this nightmarish skin factory spectators became in turn slaughterers and slaughtered, feeding in the ghastly chain of human exploitation. Under the hypnotising musical paroxysm of a Cretan lyre melody (played grunge-style by musician/composer Tilemachos Moussas), the space was transformed into a decadent locus of cultural and spiritual massacre, wherein souls, ideas and artworks, as well as all sorts of stereotypes and national symbols were massacred. […]