Twenty-five years after the death of the photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (1899-1998), known as Nelly’s, the Benaki Museum, custodian of her valuable work since 1984, pays tribute and, with a strong sense of responsibility, organizes her retrospective exhibition entitled “Nellie’s”, re-introducing her to the contemporary public. The exhibition, presented at the Benaki Museum / Piraeus 138, opens to the public on Thursday, February 23, 2023 and will run until Sunday, July 23, 2023.

The presentation of Nelly’s multidimensional work is attempted with axes the three cities in which she shaped her photographic gaze: Dresden, Athens, New York. With almost 350 photographs created by the artist herself and selected from her massive archive, an effort is made to represent the different aesthetic trends she adopted during her forty-five years of involvement with the medium and the numerous techniques of black and white and color photography with which she experimented. These original works are supplemented by some 150 contemporary digital prints made by her negatives to fill in the narrative gaps. The photographic equipment she used as a student in Dresden but mainly as a professional photographer in Athens during the interwar period and in New York Post-War is exhibited in order to document her deep knowledge of photographic technology. Two films digitized from the material kept in her archive are also shown indicative of her early experiments with filmmaking. Finally, the archival material gleaned, such as magazine covers of her time, posters and letter cards, contributes to an understanding of the use of her photographs in her time.

The narrative of the exhibition is based on her studies in Dresden (1920-1923) and samples from her studies in portrait and dance and nude photography are presented. This is followed by her arrival in Athens and her dynamic presence in the photographic events of the city from 1924 to 1939. The division of her work into sections reflects the rich range of subjects that occupied her lens during her stay in Greece. Images already known from their multiple publications in the past are supplemented with new ones, unknown until today, showcasing the different perspective introduced in the domestic photographic production of the interwar period and which formed the basis on which post-war Greek photography would evolve. The third and final section is dedicated to the work he painted in New York from 1939 to 1966. This is the least known part of her work, despite the fact that she lived and worked there for twenty-seven years. Then, at the age of forty, she decided to leave her successful business in the Athenian capital and try her strength in the unknown, to her, field of American photography.

The exhibition concludes with a small presentation of her paintings on porcelain, an activity she developed alongside her photographic career during her stay in America. Finally, the visitor of the exhibition has the opportunity to attend one of the last interviews that Nelly gave to director Giorgos Sgourakis in 1994 for the “Monogram” show.

The retrospective presentation of Nelli’s work took place thanks to the generous contribution of Aris Theodoridis, who always strongly supports the activities of the Benaki Museum, and the contribution of John S. Fafalios Foundation, Andreas and Alexandra Voureka-Petalas, Alexandros Malaspina and his family, Maria Gaitanou Embirikos, the Association “The Friends of the Benaki Museum”, The George & Aristeas Mamidakis Foundation and Blue gr Hotels & Resorts, Dimitris Tsitouras, as well as the stable partners of the foundation. The editing was undertaken by Aliki Tsirgialou, head of the photographic archives of the Benaki Museum, and the design by Natalia Boura, architect and head of the museum’s Modern Greek architecture Archives.

The accompanying Nellie’s catalogue. The work of the photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (1899-1998), designed by Erifili Arapoglou-En Arte, is published by the Benaki Museum thanks to the exclusive sponsorship of the George & Victoria Karelia Foundation.

During the exhibition there will be guided tours and educational programs that will be announced, as well as a workshop dedicated to the Great Creator.

The organization of Nelli’s retrospective exhibition and the accompanying publication coincide with the fifty years of operation of the photographic archives of the Benaki Museum and are dedicated to Emilia Geroulanou and the late Angelos Delivorrias.

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