KavecS @ 1st NSK Folk Art Biennale

still from the video folk studies

KavecS present the Athens Bureau of Folk Studies: A study on Pericles Yiannopoulos’ “New Spirit” at the 1st NSK FOLK ART BIENNALE

still from folk studies 1
folk king 2
folk revolution
church still

The work A study on Pericles Yiannopoulos’ “New Spirit” is a research on the writings of the romantic/nationalist Greek novelist Pericles Yiannopoulos (1869-1910). Yiannopoulos’ work struggles to define the virtues of the “greek nature” across the principles of Greek fine arts through the centuries: the “greek line” (it’s “purity” and “simplicity”) and the “greek color” (the immateriality and lightness of the golden and the light blue). He thought of his writings as a defense of the true values of the “race” against the obsession with “foreign” (western) culture. In late 19th century, Greek urban life was partially westernized in order to detach itself from the ottoman past. In 1906, his collection of essays “To Neon Pneuma” (the New Spirit) is published. The book calls for a new spiritual revolution – a renaissance of the spirit of the Greek revolution of 1821. Today, the protofascist rhetoric of Yiannopoulos is glorified by the ideologues of the Golden Dawn neo-nazi gang such as Christos Pappas. In 1910, Yiannopoulos committed suicide in a perfectly planned way. He rode a horse into the sea of Skaramanga and shot his wreathed head.

This study focuses on Yiannopoulos’ “New spirit”. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the author describes two scenes. Scene A is titled “Greece: Light.” In this part, the author praises the Greek revolution of 1821: “humanity of martyrs and heroes.” He refers to grace and lionhearted heroes. Scene B is titled “Greece: Ordure” and refers to the era of 1897: a humanity of lawyers, MPs, gamesters, bankruptcy and national disgrace. Yiannopoulos refers to the 1897 disastrous thirty-days war with the Ottoman Empire. Greece had already declared bankruptcy in 1893. Yiannopoulos anathematizes the state of affairs under the treaty of defeat. In this utter dualist perception, the “spontaneous” and often unstable virtues of the Greek people are opposed to the “docile” and “decadent” order the Greek bourgeoisie.

The Athens Bureau of Folk Studies presents recitations of these two scenes in Yiannopoulos’ “New Spirit.” The voice blends with modified filmic footage. The first act, praising Greek revolution, is dressed up with footage from Greek peplum-style movies depicting the life and events of the Greek revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans. Most of these movies, such as Papaflessas or Oi Souliotes, were produced by the Greek-American film producer James Paris during the greek Military dictatorship of 1967-1974. The second scene, cursing the failed bourgeois class of bureaucrats, lawyers etc, introduces footage from early 20th century films depicting the life of the Greek and Balkan bourgeoisie.

The dualist structure of this compilation follows the ultimate logic of Yiannopoulos’ excerpt. This logic resonates patterns of today’s popular discourse that contrast the pure/struggling nation/folk to the corrupted political order. In terms of the rhetorical articulation of what is at stake, nothing seems to have radically changed.