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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Global Greek Filmmaker Vicky Yiannoutsos' Persephone's Plight Comes Home to Greece...

I carry two cultures, two languages, two worlds.
I belong to both, I belong to neither.
I am Persephone destined forever to journey between them.”
Vicky Yiannoutsos - Persephone’s Plight

Talented and multi-awarded Greek New Zealand filmmaker Vicky Yiannoutsos is very excited this week! She is in Greece in pursuit of her dream: bringing her multi-media installation exhibition Persephone’s Plight home to Greece.

In fact, Persephone's Plight homeward journey has already begun.

As we write, Vicky is adding the finishing touches for Persephone's homecoming, which will take place in Kephalonia tomorrow, at the Ionion Centre for Arts and Culture where from the 7th to the 10th of October, Vicky and Persephone will be the honoured guests.

Drawn from over 20 years of travels between Greece and New Zealand, Persephone’s Plight is an exhibition of multiple film and video images which embodies the cycle of the seasons, the phases of birth and death, their activity, their dormancy and the regenerative phases of their eternal cycle.  

Vicky Yiannoutsos outside MIC Toi Rerehiko Gallery 
in Auckland, New Zealand 
with the Persephone's Plight exhibition poster
Photo Source: Emmanuel Yiannoutsos

For Vicky, it is a metaphor for the 20th Century migrant experience – a time of abduction from the Motherland by the lure of the Fruits of the New World. Since first visiting Greece as a young girl, Vicky has identified the myth of Demeter and Persephone as a metaphor for the migrant experience.

Persephone’s Plight is a new chapter in a body of work which has been in progress all my life, where I continue to chose the moving image to express the complexity, confusion, richness and joy that comes from living between cultures.

The year man walked on the moon, my parents announced they were going back to Greece for 6 months and taking me with them, I flatly refused. I’d miss a year of school. I’d miss my friend Mandy!

But the Gods had a plan, the planets were already in motion.

In 1969 I took my own ‘big step for humankind’ and crossed the world to a world that would change my world, forever. I found my emotional touchstone, and would spend the rest of my life returning back there. My father tells me that I announced matter-of-factly that I would one day make a film of our island of Kastos to show the world.

I have used the camera to bridge the restlessness I feel living between two worlds, and has underpinned my work as a film-maker over the last 20 years. From the shooting of the documentary Visible Passage, its ‘20 years on’ follow-up Scattered Seeds, various feature film scripts, and many stories, poems, journals, and letters. This exhibition has given me the opportunity to unpack and abstract some of these ideas, motifs and themes into a gallery setting.

A migrant carries within them two worlds, and they live within the friction and unease of many contradictions. They try to reconcile them. They look for lumber.

When they find their lumber, they build a bridge.

I build mine by telling stories through film...

About Persephone’s Plight 

Vicky represents the 4 Seasons of Migration through the quartets of Birth, Separation, Yearning, Return. Like Persephone abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld where she yearns to return to her Mother, the migrant is abducted by the New World. Separated across the waters, s/he and her Mother yearn for each other.

As Persephone eats the fruits of the Underworld and is irreversibly changed, the migrant partakes of the New World, and is changed. Though the Patrida calls, s/he can never permanently return.

Destined to journey between worlds, (s)he, like her Mother, is trapped in
yearning. The generations that follow – the new seeds – inherit this yearning, this love of a distant culture through Music, Language, Food, Dance, and Stories.

Maybe they can one day return, maybe they can one day stay?...

When we asked  Vicky how she felt, now that Persephone's Plight had brought her back to where it all began, her answer was essentially straight from the soul:

I saw it as an opportunity to return the work back to source in the Ionian Seas– a full cycle if you like. My father, now 92, can’t return to Greece, but I can bring him back to the waters that bore him, through this exhibition. I feel this is quite mystic, at this time in his life, and our relationship.

I’ve been travelling between Greece and NZ all my life, and don’t see that stopping. I love the Ionian isles and am happy to respond in any way that is called upon me to do so, in the future. In many ways, I’m a messenger, or the projection for others who have had similar experiences. It is my job to elicit or stimulate the emotions that exist in those of us, who know this experience of living between worlds. It’s complex, and its deeply personal, and everyone has their own unique emotional response to it, yet the ‘soil’ of the experience – the rich and often complicated relationship with the Motherland – is common and binding...

Strikingly relevant to all of us who have grown up between two cultures, Persephone's Plight presents the eternal and ongoing dilemma of living within two worlds, a dilemma which is particularly appropriate now, as many of Greece's young people retrace the steps their parents took in the 50's and 60's. 

Persephone's Plight is a unique multimedia experience, complemented by fellow Greek New Zealander, John Psathas' composition Flight on Light, beautifully executed by Greek clarinet virtuoso Manos Achalinotopoulos

We wish Vicky well and look forward to seeing her exhibition in Athens and in every corner of the Global Greek World very soon.

Bravo Vicky - Καλή Επιτυχία! Wish we could be there with you today...


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