In the framework of the two-day conference “Archaeology and Narrativity. Performance in archaeological sites and excavation of human experience” (29 & 30 March), on Friday 29 March at 18.00, 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture presents Mystery 195 The Goumas Army, a sculptural work by artist Dionisis Christofilogiannis, along with a live performance. Forty-nine clay heads from the ceramic universe of Charalampos Goumas come to life in the Elefsina Old Oil Mill Amphitheatre creating a contemporary art installation. This work was first presented last September in the exhibition “Eleonas ’23 | Chthonic and Anthropocene,” curated by Dimitris Trikas.

The work of Dionisis Christofilogiannis pays homage to Charalampos Goumas – one of the most venerable ceramic artists and potters in Athens! The use of 49 clay bull heads as a military force highlights the combative nature of human existence and its effect on the environment. The course of the “Anthropocene,” as it is called, is revealed by the Sacred Way itself from the time when nature was dominant until the current era of technological civilisation. This course is depicted in the stratigraphies of Eleonas and Elefsina, while the “zero” hour is reflected on the surface of the decaying, ruined Eleonas and the European Capital of Culture. The reflection of the stratigraphy of the “Anthropocene” with its scattered heaps of sediment, waste or discarded materials represents the anthropogeography dominated by “discarded” populations. The creation of the “Goumas Army” reveals a comprehensive understanding of the human journey, using art as a means to depict and reconstruct our history and heritage. Overall, the work engages with time and place in an emotional, striking way.

The choice of title, “The Goumas Army,” highlights the intensity and power that characterise the work. The image of the army, with its many ceramic bull heads, creates a sense of martial power that sweeps over everything. While these ceramic bull heads were made by Goumas and had been hanging on the railings of his studio for 10 years, through Dionisis Christofilogiannis’ work they become symbols of power and revival.

Charalampos Goumas, the Greek ceramicist, emerges as a presence through the work not only as a creator but also as a natural and spiritual “forebear” of art and tradition. The work’s expressivity is a tribute to the continuity of art and to the heritage that we have received.

Dionisis Christofilogiannis’ experience of meeting Charalampos Goumas is like a journey through time and culture, accompanied by the creation of a work of art that connects past, present and future.

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