A series of performances as part of the group exhibition Portals

former Public Tobacco Factory – Hellenic Parliament Library and Printing House

27, 28, 29, 30 December 2021

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NEON is proud to present a series of performances by internationally acclaimed Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou at the former Public Tobacco Factory this December. Sisyphus / Trans / Form (2019) will take place as part of the exhibition Portals organised by NEON in collaboration with the Hellenic Parliament in June-December 2021.

Sisyphus / Trans / Form (2019), a piece for six performers, is based on the myth of Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to roll a rock up to the top of a mountain which then rolls back down again so that he endlessly has to repeat the exercise. In Papaioannou’s interpretation mountain and rock become a single, vast rectangular stone slab: a burden for Sisyphus but also a frame for the performance and a portal through which the protagonist disappears and re-emerges. Sometimes Sisyphus staggers, leaning forward and dragging behind him the immense rock on his shoulders and back; sometimes, in a feat of physical theatre combining limbs of additional performers, he appears transformed, defying gravity, sliding and scrambling about on his stone frame; sometimes he fronts up to it with such force that his head smashes through it.

During the enactments of Sisyphus’s struggle there are moments of pure slapstick. The sense of humour is dark and reminiscent of silent movies. At one point Sisyphus is castrated and his rock flattens him like a cartoon character. Once the emasculated Sisyphus has managed to stagger to his feet, he is trans/formed to a woman.

At its heart, Sisyphus / Trans / Form is a meditation on the absurd; the realisation, described by French philosopher and author Albert Camus as arising from the confrontation between the human need for happiness and reason and “the unreasonable silence of the world”[1]. As Papaioannou says, “making art is using your talent to meditate upon issues of human existence, whether pleasurable or not”.[2] Sisyphus’s perpetual tussle with the rock resembles the repetitive routine of working people, a tribute to Papaioannou’s own father who is a working-class man, that results first in melancholy and then in metamorphosis. Rather than being an unbearable load, the daily grind – the rock – transforms into an awakening. As Camus wrote, “crushing truths perish from being acknowledged”.[3]

Conceived, visualized + directed by Dimitris Papaioannou

Performers: Dimitris Papaioannou, Christos Strinopoulos, Drosos Skotis, Michalis Theophanous, Kalliopi Simou, Pavlina Andriopoulou.

Assistant Director + Creative Producer: Tina Papanikolaou

International Relations & Photographer: Julian Mommert

Technical Director: Manolis Vitsaxakis

Work created with the support of Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall

and realized in collaboration with Collezione Maramotti + Max Mara

Produced by 2WORKS in collaboration with EdM Productions / Elisabetta Di Mambro and Simona Fremder

Commissioned by the Collezione Maramotti and I Teatri di Reggio Emilia.

Presented at the Tobacco Factory basement which has been transformed specifically for the performances.

Four performances will take place on 27, 28, 29, 30 December 2021 at 15:30 daily.

The performance includes nudity and is suitable for people aged 15 years and older.

Reservations open on 6 December via  neon.artsvp.co.

Admission Free with a ticket booked in advance.

As part of its collaboration with the Hellenic Parliament, NEON renovated 6,500m2 of the emblematic former Public Tobacco Factory building and created a new contemporary cultural centre in Athens, open to all. The space was inaugurated by the international group exhibition, Portals, taking place until 31 December 2021, featuring 59 artists from 27 countries, curated by Elina Kountouri, Director, ΝΕΟΝ and Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Portals aspires to give rise to new messages, ideas, and reflections regarding contemporary artistic creation, through the prism of a newly formed reality composed of change and disruption.

Dimitris Papaioannou

Sisyphus / Trans / Form (2019)

27-28-29-30 December 2021

Performance starts at 15:30

Arrival by 14:45

Pre-reservation is required via neon.artsvp.co (from 6 December 2021)

Exhibition Portals

former Public Tobacco FactoryHellenic Parliament Library & Printing House.

218 Lenorman St., Kolonos, Athens

Exhibition Duration: 12 June – 31 December 2021

Exhibition Opening Hours

Monday, Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday, Friday, Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00

Thursday, Saturday: 12:00 – 20:00

Free Entrance via neon.artsvp.co

Health protocols in effect

More information at neon.org.gr

[1] Albert Camus, 1942, The Myth of Sisyphus.

[2] Sarah Crompton, ‘Dimitris Papaioannou interview: the choreographer of The Great Tamer and how Pina Bausch changed my life’, The Sunday Times, 14 October 2018.

[3] Albert Camus, ibid.


Dimitris Papaioannou

Sisyphus / Trans / Form, 2019,

Photograph © Julian Mommert

Portals, Hellenic Parliament + NEON at the former Public Tobacco Factory

Courtesy NEON and the artist