From Slovenia to Greece

Art Residency
Eleusis, Greece
05 - 09 APRIL 2024

T h e · P r o j e c t

“Pariahs: Performing Europe’s Historical Memory” is an interdisciplinary, creative project that uses community-based activities and artistic practices to unearth communities’ unspoken and collective memories of marginalised individuals who unintentionally shaped these communities and gradually sculpted historical memory.

The project brings together four cultural grassroots organisations from culturally diverse regions (Armenia, Greece, Slovenia, and France) for a two-year journey of creative explorations, mobilities, exchanges of artistic practices, and community participation. Artists from various disciplines, such as performing arts, music, visual arts, writing, and dance, begin an artistic research project by engaging in participatory community engagement activities to learn about each community’s historical memories.

“Historical memory is widely considered to be a specific form of collective memory […] and as such to be distinguished from individual practices of remembering the past,” M. Prutsch writes in a paper published by the EU Parliament on Structural and Cohesion Policies in Culture and Education. […] Historical memory, on the other hand, is defined as “something that moulds memory” and attempts to achieve a single objective historical truth with a distinct external perspective.”

“Memory is one of the most difficult areas of social science to define and confine.” There may not be a “one-size-fits-all” method for defining or demarcating the boundaries of the concept of memory. Memory is a living concept. It interacts with the daily lives of individuals, groups, and communities, prompting them to participate in a variety of activities. These actions are relevant to their personal lives and aid in the formation of individual memory. Community life and group membership shape and contribute to the formation of collective memory, which shapes collective identity and a sense of belonging.” (Apaydin, 2020)

How can a work of art aid in the investigation of a community’s collective and historical
m e m o r y ?

Inspired by cinematographer Filippos Koutsaftis’ documentary “Mourning Rock” (Agelastos Petra) (Eleusis 2000), which casts a poignant look back on the life of Panagiotis Farmakis, a marginalised figure whose decades-long collection of archaeological treasures unwittingly contributed to the modern shaping of Eleusis, which is currently the 2023 European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Farmakis’ image has become ingrained in the local consciousness, serving as a part of the city’s and its history’s collective memory.
Starting in Eleusis, Greece, the project then travels through three more European countries and beyond, spearheaded by grassroots organisations in Yerevan and rural Armenia, Maribor, Slovenia, and Mont-Dauphin, France – four cities with very different sociocultural backgrounds.

The project begins with an artistic research which engages local communities in an active discussion about memory. Followed by an artist mobility and residency programme that begins in Armenia, participating artists collaborate both with one another and with local audiences, incorporating local elements and other artistic practices into their productions.
A group of professional and emerging artists will collaborate with audiences and communities to reveal the common patterns of constructing local, national, and European identities through artistic expression and performance of untold and unrecorded historical memories of communities that have shaped their progress and sociocultural environment.

The central goal of the project is to create a methodology that will use artistic practices to unearth communal and historical memory while weaving a new network of transnational collaborations.

The Research

Led by playwright & researcher Effie Samara, who in her published work she radicalises the space between exilic ontology and the discourses of the Other  (Arendt, Levinas, Spivak) against the formal representations of governance and policy making and interrogates the concept of citizenship as both ontology and materialism and seeks innovations in its  understanding and its future potential, the project begins with each community being heavily involved in a participatory session in which collective and historical memories are explored, unearthed, and recorded.

General notes on theory and memory

Today, the memory of national traumas and large historical events can travel beyond its consigned borders and

1. solicit shame, outrage, pain, tears of sincerity and even spasms of hate on the other side of the world
2. change our understanding of historical continuum.
3. help with subject formation – the making of the “me”.

Today, the is used to consolidate national orthodoxies and provide foundational narratives for
1. Integration of identities.

Is this integration desired?  Is assimilation what we really want?

In 1987 Gilles Deleuze writes that a “central automaton” determines the cultural and historical legitimacy. QUESTION: We are now just “central automata”, organised by international media, nd global capital?

The physical wounds that shape the bruised body of a nation (WAR, GENOCIDE, DICTATORSHIPS, PROTESTS, FEMINIST REVOLUTIONS) never heal. But they are re-designed in the political imaginary through 
sentimental over-codings (I am a proud Slovenian, I am a proud Greek etc..) public forms, flags and symbolic rituals QUESTION: Are invested in a continuous NATIONAL COMPLEX that only creates trans-generational poison and nothing more? Or are these rituals important and how do we make them part of a larger discussion?

different aestheticisations of memory that territorialize suffering in an ongoing drama of national self- valorisation. QUESTION: Is historical memory just a manufactured collective fiction, a big political propaganda or does it carry value for our future?