This programme draws inspiration from the famous religious rites of ancient Eleusis, the Mysteries. For ancient Eleusis, the Mysteries were what we would call a ‘Festival’ today. For decades now, festivals in Europe have functioned as points of reference for each city, for the projection of the city on the collective imagination, the promotion of the way in which the city perceives, expresses and imagines itself. The image of modern-day Eleusis is composed of the evolution of human culture from the agricultural era to the post-industrial era.
It is a unique landscape, one of pronounced contrasts, challenging modern humans to a constant redefinition of their relationship with themselves, the city, the past, the present and the future. The previous generations have left indelible marks on contemporary Eleusis. This unique stratigraphy of the city is what makes Eleusis a field of fruitful reflection, an ongoing spiritual challenge, a timeless object of multidisciplinary study, and an explosive material in the hands of creators. Dimitris Pikionis, a prominent personality of Greek architecture and urban planning, called it a “factory of thoughts”. At the same time, the “Mysteries” were the celebration that brought humans close to the ultimate concept of the Other, i.e. death. Through the experience of death, initiates experienced absolute joy and and a sense of rebirth after the ritual.
The Aeschylia Festival programme of major artistic installations has been developing over the last decade, based on this unique physiognomy of the city. Building on this foundation, we are creating the “Contemporary Mysteries”, a festival for art in public space. At the same time, we are developing the “fEUstival” project, which focuses on the functioning of festivals in Europe, through exhibitions, meetings, educational programmes and other events: it examines their relationship with local societies and European society, the way in which the peoples of Europe meet and get to know each other, as well as the way in which Europe is projected onto people’s collective fantasy through its festivals.