Written by Eleni Tzirtzilaki
Starting point of this action was a walking project, dedicated to my mother’s sister, Nitsa-Eleni Papagiannaki, nick-named Electra for her participation in the Resistance Movement, who entered the Democratic Army of Greece, in the island of Crete, in 1947. The silent walking action was a collective visit to the site of the battlefield, where Electra and her comrades were killed just before the ending of the civil war. The action took place in 2015, on the steep White Mountains, near the village of Kallikratis, as an in-situ healing of a personal, but also a collective trauma.
Before that, a research was made, including looking through the Historical Archive, and the Archive of the City of Chanea; going through the Press of that period; interviewing her surviving comrades and family. This research also gave a book, and later on, a documentary, entitled ‘Guerilla-fighter, Nitsa-Eleni Papagiannaki.’ A new research followed, regarding the 14 women who fled to the mountain, in Western Crete, to take part in the impossible revolution, the civil war. An art-book was composed, using the material of the research, containing maps, newspaper scraps dating back to that era, oral testimonies, photographs, sketches, reciting their small or lengthier stories.
The artistic-praxis, ‘Public Readings–Memoria. Women on the Mountain,’ was a living monument that took place in the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Rethemnon, in October 2019, but also an attempt to bring to light the stories of these women, and their lives―lives annihilated and forgotten, lives that remained invisible―events and places, testimonies and archives, narrations and images, offering space, body and voice to actions of regaining and mnemosyne. The readings were performed by eight contemporary Cretan women.
The sites, testimonies, and archives acquire a special meaning through this process.
Photo credits: Eleni Tzirtzilaki, Nomadic Architecture