Routes of the Corinthian currant // 5-20 October 2019, Aigio, Greece

Primarolia organisation, the Municipality of Aigialeia and DHKEPA (Municipal Public Benefit Eterprise of Aigialeia) organised the first Primarolia Festival, 5-20 October 2019, in Aigio, as part of a plan to give prominence to the history and culture of the Corinthian currant through inter-artistic and interdisciplinary collaborations and events. 

Events’ programInto my garden come
In the 19th century, around this time of the year, the famous Primarolia sailed from our city, the first ships, loaded with the new and best crop of the Corinthian currants “Vostizza”. The ships sailed in a festive atmosphere with music and celebrations for the large ports of Europe; Liverpool, London, Trieste, Marseille, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Odessa. When the ships returned they brought “wealth and culture from Hesperia”, financing to a large extend the newly formed post-revolutionary Greek state, its infrastructure, its cities and ports, the prosperity and future of its inhabitants.
The new Primarolia festival, with contemporary approach and perspective, creates the Primaroli ship of culture in the 21st century which carries as its cargo contemporary culture and the historical, social and cultural heritage of the cultivation of the Corinthian currant – the heritage that inscribed it on the National List of Intangible Cultutal Heritage (UNESCO).
Opening for the first time the emblematic currant warehouse of Kanellopoulos-Kritsotalakis, the festival hosted and presented a series of cultural events. Aiming at networking with the countries and ports that welcomed the Corinthian currant, we welcomed artists from Greece and Great Britain, we enjoyed the tours around the contemporary art exhibition “Into my garden come with new commisioned works of art ispired by the region, watched movies for artists and creators from France, the Netherlands and Germany, artists and musicians from our local ports, Aigio and Patras and an original theatrical play “Zoe’s primaroli”. We also welcomed in an every day basis students in our educational programs, “planting” into them the concepts of the cultivation, history and culture of the Corinthian currant. Finally, at the two evening summits, we listened to scientists and specialists sharing their thoughts and findings about the architecture, culture and development of the Corinthian currant and we discussed with them about the future, co-shpaing the cargo and the course of our ship. 

---------- Contemporary art exhibition ----------

«Into my garden come»

Eight artists arrived in Aigio from Greece and Great Britain eager to begin a new conversation with the place and create new works of art. Aigio, a town cradled between the sea and the high mountains holds a history that dates back to ancient times and offers a fertile ground of artistic creation and dialogue through a contemporary art exhibition. They were motivated by Primarolia Festival, the landscape of the region and also the timeless commercial, nutritional, historical, social and cultural value of the Corinthian currant. The exhibition focused on the metaphorical concept of the garden. The title is taken from Emily Dickinson’s verse “Into my garden come”, perceived as a meeting and gathering of senses, ingredients, objects, ideas – a point of conjunction, of matter and meaning, of past and future. This new sowing of people, ideas and meetings takes place in the coastal zone of Aigio, known as Vostizza during the Middle Ages, meaning the city of gardens.

The artists got inspired by the landscape, the seed and its history and approach them interdisciplinary and inter-artistic with a series of new comissioned artworks. The seed through Rob Kesseler‘s microscope lays the foundantion seeds of the exhibition. Aggelos Antonopoulos creates external and internal spaces ready to receive the planting material. In Bill Psarras‘ artwork the soil is redefined poetically and hosts the planting of the garden. Luc Messinezis and Yiannis Brouzos (Oannes) create a scultural narrative of the garden through mysterious flowers. Agalis Manessi‘s artwork abstractly hightlights the medium carried by the force of the wind – such as the pollen. Maria Tsagkari wanders in imaginary gardens looking for the pollination of their flowers. Kostas Pappas approaches the space as an intermediate place for the process of photosynthesis to take place.

The exhibition – curated by Nansy Charitonidou – holds a site-specific characteristic as it develops within an emblematic, preservable and restored building, one of the oldest currant warehouses which carry the industrial history of the city and also its cintemporary culture. The building, owned by Kanellopoulos-Kritsotalakis, was built in 1900 as a currant warehouse, the office and house of a great currant trader, while in 1985 was a place of inspiration for Theo Angelopoulos for his movie “The Beekeeper” as Cine Pantheon.

---------- Educational workshops ----------

A very importnat aspect of the first festival were the daily educational workshops (program manager; Nansy Charitonidou) with the participation of local schools and students. During their visits, the students had the opportunity to get acquainted with the local history through a tour in an emblematic building of our modern heritage and get close to the work of contemporary artists who have been inspired by the region and its history.  Between October 5-20, more than 1.100 students visited the exhibition and were introduced to a new world in which they could immerse to secrets of contemporary art forms and participate with their thoughts and views on the concepts behind the artworks. Each visit was completed with a cyanotype workshop, where, ispired by the work of the British artist Rob Kesseler, they each created a unique work of art, using the technique of cyanotype.

---------- Brief report ----------

If numbers are a sign of success, the Primarolia organisational and creative team is happy for a number of results;

  • Between 5-20 October, the visitors of the exhibition exceeded the 2,100. 
  • The students from all over the region of Aigialeia during the school visits and the participation in the artistic workshops exceeded the 1,100. 
  • The social acceptance of the festival has been great, which shows the local need to build around its strong characteristic; the Corinthian currant and its cultural heritage. 
  • The Primarolia festival and the contermporary art exhibition were under the auspices and financial support of the Ministry of Culture & Sports of the Hellenic Republic, after the submission of a curational file during the spring of 2019. 
  • The festival had an active online and offline presence through its official website, social media accounts and hashtags (Facebook, Instagram), exhibition catalog, original graphic design, original audiovisual material (official teaser, workshop and play teasers), photo albums of the artworks and events and a short report documentary (6′) of the exhibition and the opening day.
  • Primarolia festival and the contemporary art exhibition were the inspiration and subject for the documentary Primarolia – The journey of the Corinthian currant in time (2019, 72’), directed by Panagiotis Kakavias (co-produced by KFilms, ERT, COSMOTETV)
  • The documentary Primarolia – The journey of the Corinthian currant in time was chosen by Thessaloniki International Film Festival for its premiere in March 2020. 
  • The theatrical play “Zoe’s primaroli” was created specifically for the purposes of the festival and was presented with an original directional, scenographic and musical approach.
  • Both the festival and the exhibition were presented at a national level, in the print and electronic press and television media (Εrt, I Kathimerini, To Vima, Τa Nea tis Technis, Art 22, CultureNow, Goethe Institut etc.)
  • The academic auspices from the University of the Arts London (UAL) and the Ionian University (Department of Audio and Visual Arts, InArts Lab), the guest editorial texts (Prof. Janis Jefferies, Goldsmiths University of London), the inderdisciplinary speeches (Geert Vermeire, επιμελητής, Dr. Alkistis Rodi, Architecture Faculty, University of Patras) and the collaborations with cultural institutes from different parts of Greece (Goethe Institure, Institut Francais, ERT Archive, Cine TRIANON, Aigio Cinematography Club) among others, confirmed the connection between contemporary art, research and culture.
  • The catalog of the contemporary art exhibition is already in the collection of the Library of the National Gallery of Athens, the Municipal Library of Aigio and the Library of the space of culture FOUGARO (Nauplio).
  • The great team of 10 volunteers helped drastically and decisively in the preparation of the festival and the exhibition. 
  • Imporant personalities honored the exhibition and the festival, art people from Greece and abroad, academics, politicians, ambassadors, members of the parliament, the former Minister of Education Sia Anagnostopoulou and two former prime ministers, George Papandreou and Alexis Tsipras, encouraging the quality and continuity of the festival and its practises. 

The opening of Primarolia Festival 2019

Reportage in ERT (National TV)

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