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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 01 September 2018
14 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM The Russian dancer Elizaveta ‘Lila’ Nikolska, member of Prague National Ballet, on the Acropolis. Athens, November 1930. The Russian dancer Elizaveta ‘Lila’ Nikolska, on the Acropolis. Athens, November 1930. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/PHOTOGRAPH BY NEL Ancient Hellenic spirit THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM The Russian dancer Elizaveta ‘Lila’ Nikolska, member of Prague National Ballet, on the Acropolis. Athens, November 1930. The Russian dancer Elizaveta ‘Lila’ Nikolska, on the Acropolis. Athens, November 1930. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/PHOTOGRAPH BY NEL Ancient Hellenic spirit ZOE ZOE THOMAIDOU of artistic expression, a nude photoshoot in an ancient temple is probably not the kind of art you would expect to be met without criticism today, let alone 90 years ago. Elli Sougioultzoglou- D Seraidari - known as Nelly's - did exactly that, taking a series of photos depicting acclaimed ballerina Mona Paiva dancing naked on the Acropolis. For her, the visual result was a reminder that the naked body was lauded by ancient Greeks and thus embodied the Hellenic spirit. espite our arguably increasing tolerance to different forms Indeed, the publication of these photographs caused a wave of admiration among global audiences, but it also sparked a negative reaction within the conservative Athenian society of the time. In any case, Nelly's work won her the title of one of Greece's most famous and controversial artists. Now for the first time, her photographs are being exhibited in Australia, at Melbourne's Hellenic Museum as part of a collaboration with the Benaki Museum in Greece. Against the Ruins features a selection of Nelly's pictures taken during the 1920s and 30s divided in three spaces: 'Dancing on the Acropolis', 'The Delphic Festivals' and 'La Mode Grecque'. ANCIENT GREECE AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION Curator Aliki Tsirgialou explains the rationale behind the common theme explored throughout the exhibition: the use of ancient sites as a visual background, but also as the artist's main source of inspiration. "When Nelly's arrived in Athens for the first time, she tried to project her admiration for ancient Greece, passed on to her by her father, to the images she would create," Ms Tsirgialou tells Neos Kosmos. As the artist writes in her autobiographical account, she "went straight to the Acropolis" to find herself within the surroundings that would prompt a deeper acquaintance with her ancestral roots. Nelly's was born in Aydin of Asia Minor in 1899 and moved to Greece at the age of 25, upon completing her studies in Dresden, Germany. "She was mentored by Launched on Thursday, the Hellenic Museum’s latest e and controversial artists. Curator Aliki Tsirgialou interior walls of her studio." two renowned German photographers, Hugo Erfurth and Franz Fiedler, who are counted among the representatives of pictorialism, a movement loosely defined by the manipulation of the photograph in order to make it look more like a painting," says Ms Tsirgialou. "This sort of classical education had a direct effect on her work when she opened her photographic studio on Ermou Street in Athens in 1925." One of the pictorialist techniques used by Nelly's is called the Bromoil process, and involves applying ink to the image by hand, using a special brush. Launched on Thursday, Melburnians now have the opportunity to see a selection of these original prints at the Hellenic Museum. "No two images can be the same, each of these prints are unique, and this is one of the elements that make the exhibition special," says the curator. "They are dated back to the 1920s and as a matter of fact many of them were created for the very purpose of decorating the welcoming hall of her studio. We can see in photos of that era, the exact same pictures exhibited at the gallery hanging on the 'DANCING ON THE ACROPOLIS' Located in the first exhibition space is Nelly's most iconic Parthenon nude, capturing Russian dancer Elizaveta Nikolska performing a leap among the ancient columns in 1930. But Ms Tsirgialou explains the idea for the controversial shot was in fact born a few years earlier, on the occasion of prima ballerina Mona Paiva's visit to Athens. "Nelly's proposed to photograph her and along with distinguished archaeologist and director of the Acropolis at the time, Alexander Philadelpheus, made their way to the ancient site.
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