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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 01 September 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 15 PHOTOGRAPHY Aliki Diplarakou (Miss Europe 1930) as Athena. Second Delphic Festival, May 1930. Acclaimed photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari, known as Nelly’s. LY’S © BENAKI MUSEUM/PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES revived in Melbourne exhibition pays tribute to one of Greece’s most famous explains why Nelly’s photography is a must see Paiva was asked to remove her clothes and pose nude dancing amongst the sanctuary buildings," she reveals. Interestingly, there are two conflicting versions of the story, with Philadelpheus having publicly stated he came up with the concept of Nikolska's nude photo shoot, while in Nelly's writing years later in her autobiography she claims that the idea was hers. FROM THE DELPHIC FESTIVALS TO ... LA MODE GRECQUE Moving on to the next gallery room, the viewer encounters photographs taken during a series of events at the archaeological site of Delphi. Consisting of theatre and dance performances, athletic games and lectures among others, the Delphic Festival was first organised in 1927 by Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife Eva Palmer. "When Nelly's was hired by Sikelianos and Palmer as the exclusive photographer of the second Delphic Festival [held in 1930] she rented a small house close to the site, in order to attend all the rehearsals. She was inspired by the costumes and choreography and took portraits of the actors and athletes participating in the events in poses resembling figures found in ancient Greek vases and other works of art, using Delphi as the background setting," says Ms Tsirgialou. Similarly, the historical site serves as a background setting in the work exhibited in the third and last section, yet "within a completely distinct approach," the curator points out. The pictures depict models posing in places such as the temple of Olympian Zeus and the Byzantine Museum, dressed in clothes inspired by ancient and traditional Greek folk costumes. Nelly's work was commissioned by the secretariat of press and tourism, following a fashion contest that took place in Athens, with the aim of promoting Greek fashion abroad, and featured in a special magazine entitled La Mode Grecque, which circulated in three languages. "Back then in Greece, the photographic image was considered the most suitable Athlete posing at the stadium of Delphi. Second Delphic Festival, May 1930. means for use in promotional material to boost tourism," explains Ms Tsirgialou. AN ICONIC ARTIST A total of 65 photographs are presented in Against the Ruins, which were selected specifically for this exhibition out of thousands kept in the Benaki Museum's photographic archives, with Nelly's having donated her complete photographic work, along with her rights, to the museum in 1985. While just a small segment of her prolific career, according to the curator it is precisely this body of work on display that defined Nelly's artistic identity and became a stepping stone for the next generation of Greek photographers. As the curator of the Benaki Photographic Archive with years of expertise in the field under her belt, and a natural appreciation for the depth of Nelly's photography, Ms Tsirgialou is the ideal candidate to curate such an exhibition. Though she admits that her aim is not necessarily to appeal to experts, but rather to make the work accessible to a wider audience. "We strive to make photography and especially archive photography - which tends to be less known - public knowledge, to foster awareness about the legacy of great photographers like Nelly's, whose work forms part of our cultural heritage," she says. For those yet to be convinced that Nelly's exhibition is worth seeing, Ms Tsirgialou presents a rather hard-torefute argument, referencing acclaimed art historian and curator Beaumont Newhall, whose seminal book The History of Photography is hailed as the ultimate study on the subject. "Considering the person who documented the history of photography worldwide [...] included Nelly's in his chronicle, we might as well assume he saw something special in her work, don't you think?" she laughs. 'Against the Ruins - Photographs by Nelly's' is currently being exhibited at The Hellenic Museum (280 William St, Melbourne, VIC) until 3 February, 2019.
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