Scholars' Association News
Issue 39
July 2016


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Wake up! Time for the Hypnos Project!

The Hypnos Project, a wide-ranging series of events at the Onassis Cultural Centre occupied the Onassis Cultural Centre building, the Onassis Library on Amalias Ave. and other well- and lesser known venues in Athens for 2 whole months from 18 April to 19 June 2016. The programme looked at the important topic of sleep through a diverse range of artistic and other events focused on that part of life which makes even the most powerful man vulnerable and which deprivation thereof can even prove to be fatal.

Eros and Hypnos’ twin brother Thanatos (death) held a dominant position in the line-up of the event, with a series of polar opposites based on a rich historical background making up the backbone of the event: sleep-death, love-gender, normality-disorder, work-rest, identity-otherness, reality-dream, rational-irrational, tradition-modernity. In that sense, the Hypnos Project sought to explore the countless correlations between those concepts, while also shattering stereotypes about contemporary culture in Greece and its relationship with all things ‘modern’.

Structured around a central exhibition, a series of parallel events, performances, texts and discussions, the Onassis Cultural Centre explored the body’s physical, social and cultural limits. Afroditi Panagiotakou, Elisavet Pantazi, Pasqua Borgia, Konstantina Soulioti, Giorgos Tzirtzilakis, Theofilos Tramboulis and the architectural office Flux-office (Eva Manidaki-Thanasis Demiris) were involved in organising, planning and curating the Hypnos Project.

The art exhibition featuring 75 works of art from 50 Greek artists (including two scholars, Panos Kokkinias and Loukia Alavanou) was held at two venues: the Onassis Cultural Centre’s exhibition space and the Onassis Library building on Amalias Ave. The exhibition brought together historical masterpieces from Greece, new works by contemporary Greek artists and archive materials from Greek folk culture in a process of interaction and transformation. The opening at the Onassis Cultural Centre featured a performance by FYTA based on the sleep and awakening of the nation and its language.

On 23-24 April a performance/lecture by Christodoulos Panagiotou entitled ‘Dying on Stage’ was hosted at the Onassis Library and explored the theatre’s inability to re-enact death on stage. Dancer Jean Capeille performed the piece to music written and performed by pianist Kyriakos Spyrou.

During all of May a performance by the Nova Melancholia group based on Georges Bataille’s story ‘The Dead’, which echoes the horrors of WWII, was held at the alternative venue at the junction of Galaxia & Sfingos Streets in Neos Kosmos.

The Hypnos Project featured stimulating lectures and debates such as the panel discussion on 12 April about the issues of insomnia, dreams and death, which was led by writer Amanda Michalopoulou, featuring psychoanalyst Kostas Gementzis, Professor of Psychiatry Kostas Soldatos and psychologist Hara Tsekou.

On 7 and 8 May, art historian Christiana Galanopoulou gave a talk about ‘Farewells’, a journey through works of art from various ages, texts, landscapes, archaeological sites, and scenes from the modern age as well as people’s stories, that came together to weave a tale about life, the hereafter and eternity.

On 9 May a talk curated and coordinated by Dimitris Papanikolaou was organised about ‘Body: Sleep, Death and Resurrection’. Author Spyros Giannaras, genetics professor Petros Ligoxygakis, architect Iris Lykourioti, scholar and author Dimosthenis Papamarkos and sociologist Dimitra Makrynioti took part, while on 16 May Dany Nobus, psychoanalyst and director of London’s Freud Museum gave a lecture about dreams on the Onassis Cultural Centre's Upper Stage.

As part of the Hypnos Project’s musical programme, the famed French Diotima quartet presented a night-time programme on 20 April at the Parnassus Literary Society, which included ‘Ainsi la nuit’ by Henri Dutilleux, ‘Métamorphoses nocturnes’ from the early works of the Hungarian composer György Ligeti, and the amazing ‘Verklärte Nacht, opus 4’ by Arnold Schönberg, a work of abstract, programme music without words based on a poem by Richard Dehmel.

Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May saw a film marathon at the Onassis Cultural Centre's Upper Stage curated by Ilias Fragoulis, which screened films and documentaries related to sleep for a whole 24 hours. Films included Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter (1955), Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973), Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty (2011), Alexis Alexiou’s Istoria 52 (2008), Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995) and many more besides. In parallel, on the evening of Saturday 14 May, there was a large pyjama party held until down across all the Onassis Cultural Centre’s floors featuring more than 20 DJs.

On Sunday 29 May there was an all-night experiential event on the Onassis Cultural Centre’s Central Stage put on by Onassis Foundation scholar and choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki in partnership with composer Tryfon Koutsourelis. The experiential performance “The Theta Series” (the first stage when we enter the dream state while asleep is called the theta waves state), which featured 45 guests/spectators, sought to explore man's relationship to darkness and light, performative action and sleep, stage performance and imagination.

An in-depth, wide-ranging project like this just couldn't have left out a sleep clinic, which operated for 10 days at the Onassis Cultural Centre free for the public, run in cooperation with doctor/pulmonologist Martha Andritsou, scientific associate of the Evangelismos Hospital's Sleep Study Centre.

Medical data from the sleep clinic was then transformed into an art installation by Marina Gioti called Polysomnogarden. The various stages of sleep were transformed into a changing visual environment with sounds by Coti K, lights, projectors and moving sculptures presented at the venue at the junction of Evrydamantos & Galaxia Streets from 19 May to 2 June.

The final aspect of the project featured photographs being projected onto various buildings around Athens. Pavlos Fysakis photographed various artists while they were asleep and their photos were then projected onto buildings in public spaces in Athens throughout the entire duration of the festival.

The Hypnos Project was accompanied by a bilingual book about sleep which was highly popular. Academics, experts and writers used original texts to talk about the issue of sleep from their own personal perspective, creating a diverse, ground-breaking anthology where sociology sits side by side with military studies, architecture along side classical philology and the literary story next to personal testimony. The Hypnos Issue writers included Dimitra Vogiatzaki, Vasiliki Kokkori, Simon Critchley, Ilias Manglinis, Panagiotis Menegos, Joanna Bourke, Sofia Nikolaidou, Afroditi Panagiotakou, Panayis Panagiotopoulos, Anna Papaeti, Dimosthenis Papamarkos, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Matina Paschali, Aris Sarafianos, Patti Smith, James Stavridis, Konstantinos Tzamiotis, Giorgos Tzirtzilakis, Theofilos Tramboulis and Thodoris Hiotis.

Inspired by the Onassis Cultural Centre’s Hypnos Project, ΑΩ has prepared its own special issue (which you can find in the pages which follow) dedicated to sleep or lack thereof, slumbering and alertness, dreams and the path towards the unconscious; hosting partnerships between scholars that take a scientific, experiential and artistic look at this topic.

(photos by Panos Kokkinias and Kiki Papadopoulou)

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