The visual performative installation Synthesis, conceived, planned and curated by choreographer Jenny Argyriou and visual artist Vassilis Gerodimos, is coming to your screens via GNO TV. The film Synthesis, which captures the unique experience of the three-day-long presentation of Synthesis in just two and a half hours, will be available for free from 31 March to 31 December 2023, with English and Greek subtitles.
More than 30 artists from the whole spectrum of performing and visual arts along with students of the GNO Professional Dance School work together to create a long-duration work that correlates the intricate workings of the national liberation struggle with the very process of creating a complex collective artistic endeavour. The work was created through months-long historical and artistic research and will be presented during three days, each of them conceptually corresponding to one of the three stages of the Greek Revolution (the intoxication of the initial outbreak, the middle-period introversion, and the late-phase fatigue and ultimate prevalence), offering a new, open-ended and collective account of the revolution.
Synthesis, a commission by the GNO Alternative Stage, was presented to great success for three consecutive days in October 2021, as part of the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.
GNO TV is a new strand of Greek National Opera's programming, made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera's artistic outreach.
The work Synthesis, which was presented on the GNO Alternative Stage in October 2021 as part of the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution and is now encapsulated in a two-and-a-half-hour film, conceived and directed by its curators, Jenny Argyriou and Vassilis Gerodimos, is a long-durational performative-installation treating the composite concept of Revolution. The complex conditions under which the Revolution was organised and conducted, agreements, collaborations, contradictions, ruptures, subversions, uncertainties, and acts of transcendence are correlated with the creation of a composite, collective artistic endeavour – a score involving creatives from the visual and performing arts and the social sciences.
The conversion of the Alternative Stage into a workshop space, where the limits between “stage” and “backstage” become permeable, brings out the significance of those invisible stages of an artistic research that do not follow a strictly linear course and help us shift from a unidimensional, static and didactic narrative of the Greek Revolution to an acccount that is personal, multiple and immersive.
The curators involved a large team of creatives from different fields of the arts and sciences in the preparation. A reading group was thus formed, which based its work on a collective process of historical and artistic research. It started with a series of discussions, in which historians and researchers presented archives, records, letters, poems, engravings etc., shedding light upon different aspects of the Greek War of Independence and raising a multitude of questions about them.
Knowing from the outset that the history of the Greek War of Independence is an inexhaustible subject, the creative team appropriated some parts of these suggested sources and assumed the task of creating one or more “fragments”, namely fragmentary narratives that give a picture of their own, without following a common logic or method.
All these different pieces of the work make up a bigger score that gets activated when the members of the creative team exceed the limits of their disciplines and participate in all of its parts, regardless of their capacity, – thus, the score constitutes an open-ended collective reading of the Revolution.
This score incorporates the long-duration performance and installation into a new collective body that sets the artists free from strict historical conventions. In turn, audience members are called upon to view the work from different angles, determine the time of their stay in the venue, and eventually create their own synthesis.
In the live version of Synthesis, which lasts twenty four hours, the installation’s constant transformation defined the work not spatially, meaning the space where the performative fragments get activated, but also in terms of time. The three days during which Synthesis was presented on the Alternative Stage referred to the three stages of the Revolution: the first day conveyed the intoxication of the initial outbreak of the Revolution, the second explored the middle-period introversion, and the third lead to the late-phase fatigue.
Finally, the structure of the installation itself consists of fragments, pieces of sets that have been used in past opera productions of the Greek National Opera and that, through this gesture, acquired a new identity. Under different circumstances, Greek fighters would also used materials they would found in the surrounding environment to make improvised weapons and banners. In fact, the main colours of the installation refer to the original banners of the revolutionaries. Digging up materials from the storage room of the Greek National Opera reveals a tendency towards in retrospection and renegotiation of our identity and of the system in which we act, realising that any effort to create narrative depends on the material(s) available.
For more information about the production process of Synthesis, you can visit the work’s official website https://synthesis21.gr, which includes audio excerpts, videos, and photographs that digitally document the historical and artistic research.