Light installation by Beforelight Group
Monday, 21.12.2020 – Agia Markella square, Elefsina
Lighting of the installation: at 17:00
Duration: until December 2021
An innovative light installation by Beforelight group is about to open to the public at the heart of Ano Elefsina during the longest night of the year.
Eleusis European Capital of Culture invites Beforelight group to light up our lockdown days and nights through a project installed in an open public space and inspired by the city and its history. It is a light installation entitled ‘Light Sgraffito’ installed in Saint Markella’s square, the heart of Chios Community in Ano Elefsina with the aim of lighting the longest night of the year, on Monday, 21 December 2020.
This installation is the result of the participatory planning through workshops together with the local community and is mainly inspired by the anthropological and folk traditions of the island of Chios and in particular by a medieval technique known as ‘Xysta’ also developed in Chios. More specifically, this traditional technique to cover house façade which developed in Pyrgi, Chios inspired the group to create this modern construction.
In the daylight, ‘xysta’ interact with sunlight creating shadows on a sokoro placed in the back of the installation. At night, ‘xysta’ are lighten up to stand out from the background as dark figures in contrast to certain lightened elements appearing all along the construction. This light installation creates new geometries and diverse movements of lights.
How the project was created
The project has been developed progressively from September 2019 onwards through a composite participatory workshop that was carried out in eight phases with the participation of 15 residents of Elefsina. With Beforelight group leading this workshop, the participants became familiar with the different concepts and uses of light, the various possibilities it offers as means of expression and a tool to creatively intervene in an open public space of a neighborhood or of the city. This participatory work is reflected in the light installation looming over Ano Elefsina.
Saint Markella’s square in Ano Elefsina
Saint Markella’s square in Ano Elefsina is a newly-created square surrounded by fenced house courtyards and features short buildings and the homonymous small church. On a daily basis, the square is a leisure space for people residing nearby and for children, creating thus a cozy neighborhood. In addition, the square has a strong identity created by the strong presence of people from Chios who come there every year at the end of July for the Feast of Saint Markella. After the evening religious service and the Procession of the icon takes place, the folk dance performance groups and the music bands of the Union of Chios present their artistic programme offering an exceptional ‘Chios night’ in the centre of Ano Elefsina.
The Union of Chios of Elefsina
After leaving their beloved homeland, the first Chios inhabitants reached Elefsina to work in the factories of a city which would become their second homeland for the generations to come. They were also involved in agriculture and stock-breeding, activities learned by their ancestors. The Association (UNION OF CHIOS OF ELEFSINA) was established in 1963. At first, the Board of Directors was mainly focused on bringing the icon of Saint Markella from the island. Priest Konstantinos Tzouros (priest Kostas), a refugee from Smyrna who after the Great Fire of Smyrna moved to Chios, welcomed the arrival of the icon. Saint Markella’s church was built in 1965 at a piece of land donated by Michail Karapournos from Chios and finally the icon ‘found its shelter’. Later on, the Association’s building was constructed in the church courtyard and hosts various events, a library and an exhibition presenting a folk dance costume selection.
Beforelight is a nine-member group created to experiment with light and its applications in open public spaces. Since 2007, it has presented its light interventions (installations) at urban open spaces in Athens, Thessaloniki, Volos, Chania, Rotterdam and Maastricht. The group’s projects were presented as part of the 2nd and 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art and were also hosted at the Action Field Kodra, Video Art Athens, Street Festival of Thessaloniki Film Festival, Folklife & Ethnological Museum of Thessaloniki, Rotterdam Museum Night, the Benaki Museum Café, Theocharakis Foundation and the foyer of the Akropolis Museum.
Elefsina welcomes Beforelight group for the second time after the presentation of ‘Fotosynaxis’, a colorful light installation/urban intervention installed in Synikismos neighbourhood as part of the Synikismos Festival 2018.
The group comprises the following members: Elisa Alexandropoulou, Christina Ampatzidou, Konstantina Evangelou, Kelly Efraimidou, Dimitris Theocharoudis, Maria Lazaridou, Vasilis Dovros, Eirini Steirou.
“Light Sgraffito” – light installation to be held in an open public space created by Beforelight group in cooperation with people from the local community of Elefsina.
Lighting of the installation on: Monday, 21 December 2020 | at 17:00
Duration: until December 2021
Live streaming of the installation lighting: Eleusis2021 Instagram
An Eleusis European Capital of Culture production
The lighting of the installation will comply with all necessary hygiene protocols to protect public health and prevent the spread of covid-19.