The Canadian Institute in Greece is pleased to present the exhibition “Paranghes Destruction and Creation“. The exhibition includes the collection of archive photographs, sketches and watercolours by the famous architect Alexandros Tzoni, depicting the shacks built by the refugees of Asia Minor after the Asia Minor disaster of 1922. The timing of the presentation of the exhibition “Paranghes: Destruction and Creation” was chosen to coincide with World Refugee Day and the centenary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, in recognition of the courage and endurance shown by the refugees in the face of tragedy and destruction.
The narrative of this exhibition begins in the childhood of Alexandros Tzoni, who was born and raised in an extended refugee family, just a few steps away from the slums of Ilisia, on the banks of the river Ilissos, where Michalakopoulou Street stands today. At the age of thirteen, Alexandros Tzonis became deeply attached to these shacks and was fascinated by the ingenuity of the constructions for which, in conditions of extreme poverty, every kind of material from the environment was used, transforming them into support structures for society, places of celebration of life and community. He visited them regularly and photographed them with his father’s pre-war Contax camera. He continued to photograph them later, as a student at the National Technical University of Athens and as a student at Yale, also capturing them in sketches and watercolors.
For decades, Alexandros Johnis, along with his wife Liane Lefaivre, a Canadian photographer and museum curator, has continued to seek out evidence and research these structures as a way of approaching construction in a sustainable and social way. This work now exists in the Alexandre Tzoni and Liane Lefaivre Archive at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
The Canadian Institute in Greece is a non-profit organization that actively promotes Canadian research and education in areas related to the cultural heritage of Greece, where, among other things, it conducts extensive archaeological fieldwork. The Institute is proud to host this exhibition on the recent history of Greece, which includes important items drawn from the above-mentioned Archive. The Canadian Institute is an appropriate venue for this exhibition given that it is located in the neighbourhood of the Ilisia, in the area where the banks of the Ilisos River once stood and the shacks once stood. Indeed, in the past, the building of the Canadian Institute was the residence of Stratis Doukas, a 1930s writer famous for his writings on the refugees of Asia Minor, to whom he himself belonged.
Alexandros Tzonis is a Greek architect, writer and researcher. He has written articles on the theory and history of architecture and has studied the evolutionary process of design, combining scientific and humanistic theories. He studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens. During his studies, he also worked as a set designer in theatre and cinema, including in the film “Never on a Sunday”. He went on to do postgraduate studies at Yale University. He has been a professor at Yale, Harvard, Delft University of Technology and the Collège de France in Paris. Since 1975, he has collaborated on most projects with his wife Liane Lefaivre, a Canadian photographer and museum curator.
Liane Lefaivre, a Canadian from Montreal, studied at McGill University and taught at the Delft University of Technology before becoming a professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
Alexandre Johnis and Liane Lefaivre have curated exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Kunsthistorischesmuseum in Vienna and the Triennale in Milan, among others. They have also published or co-published numerous books, including Shape of Community (Penguin, 1970), Towards a Non-Oppressive Environment (MIT Press, 1978), Classical Architecture: the Poetics of Order (Cambridge: MIT Press 1986), Critical Regionalism: architecture and identity in a Globalized World (Prestel, 2003), Aldo van Eyck, Humanist Rebel (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1999). They are currently preparing a new book on the Third Ecology.
Exhibition dates: 21 June to 12 July
Public hours: Mon-Tue-Fri 10:00-14:00 / Tue-Thurs 17:00-20:00.