British sculptor's Ironwork reshapes ancient Delos island site in Greece

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
British sculptor's Ironwork reshapes ancient Delos island site in GreeceAround 165,000 holidaymakers made the trip to Delos last year

It will seem like artistic sacrilege to classicists but British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley has put a modern spin on the ancient Greek island of Delos, a barely-inhabited essentially open museum, one of the most world’s most mythological, historical, and archaeological sites.

Gormley, who in 2008 was ranked by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph fourth on their list of the 100 Most Powerful People in British Culture, has created 29 iron ‘bodyforms’, several cast from his own body.

They are the first artworks to be installed on the island since it was inhabited more than 5,000 years ago, The Guardian wrote in a feature about the works, and Gormley, 68, who is known for works like the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site installation featured in London, New York City, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong.

Now he’s put his distinctive rusty, iron mark on an island of marble, ruins and wonderment and where excavations are still going on to discover the treasures and mysteries of one of ancient Greece’s most noted holy sanctuaries.

It was also home to the Delian League, founded in 478 BC, an association of Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece. Congresses were held in the temple.

Gormley’s style is at once distinctive and yet in harmony with the surrounding landscapes and ruins.

“If this works, our hope is it will help change how people approach ancient monuments,” Dr. Demetrios Athanasoulis, who heads the department of antiquities in the Cyclades told The Guardian. “There is no past without the present, and we live in times where there are any number of windows through which to view the past.”

In an open-air archaeological site such as Delos, time travel may come easily, wrote the paper’s Helena Smith. “To be limited to the academic reading of any site’s historical significance is rather old-fashioned,” Athanasoulis told her.

It can be a forbidding site at times, sun-sparkled in the summer with the light rays bouncing off glistening white remains resisting the ravages of time, with salt winds biting away in the winter, even eating into granite and the treeless outcrop exposed to the heavens and gods.

Few artists, Athanasoulis told the paper, would be able to conceive of works that could amplify a visitor’s experience of the lost civilization, bringing back to life the geological and archaeological features, without challenging its mystical landscape and history.

OUT OF THE PAST

Visitors now see not just the glory of ancient Greece, but Gormley’s bodyforms and sculptures, foremost among them an iron statue looking like a kouros of the past, a naked young man standing alone, this one bearing the sculptor’s rusty-like handwork.

It’s called Another Time XV and it does, indeed, look almost like it was sculpted 5000 years ago and left to the weather but to stand defiant, unbowed, quiet, calmly keeping watch on the waves and those gone past.

Its gaze is firmly fixed on the horizon. “Silent and still, it has an eerily electrifying effect,” wrote Smith. It’s also looking at the tourists and visitors who still come to a place where almost no one lives in a country where millions flock to islands for vacations.

Around 165,000 holidaymakers made the trip to Delos last year, miniscule compared to the 2.5 million who went to the tourist-gouging Mykonos, where college girls dance on the tabletops of night clubs charging 1,000 euros ($1119) and more. The shuttle takes you from that scene on Mykonos to the antithesis on Delos.

There’s curious worries too that Gormley’s works will be too successful and overshadow those of the ancients still enduring for eons.

“Persuading the central archaeological council that the sculptures would neither distract nor offend wasn’t easy,” said Athanasoulis. “It took me some time to convince people of our goal to offer a new way of interpreting our relationship with antiquities through artworks that can act as a catalyst to facilitate diverse readings of the past.”

The invitation to show his work in a place where no artist has set foot for thousands of years was both “an amazing privilege and extraordinary responsibility,” he said.

Five pieces were specially commissioned for the exhibition, which is titled Sight – and in which Gormley tried to radically reinterpret the function and purpose of sculpture as seen in the ancient world. “It’s been a huge challenge but what a place to think about the human project,” he said.

Delos now shows the remains of temples, altars, sculptures, and votive offerings, magnificent ruins of a later period when the Cycladic island became a commercial center alive with merchants and slaves – all gone.

There’s what’s left of the sacred court dedicated to Apollo and Artemis, wall paintings and mosaics of preserved homes from the Hellenistic age on a rocky island less than 3.1 miles long and less than a mile wide.

Gormley said he was keenly aware of the challenges of trying to meld the modern with the ancient on a revered classic site.

“In this atmosphere of light there is a feeling of timeliness, of being outside industrial time,” he said. “Sculpture is a threshold to another attitude to time; it provides the invitation to escape mechanized time as we know it.”

Athanasoulis said he knows there will be skeptics. “It’s only natural that some won’t like what they see in Sight,” he quips. “It will end in October, and only then will we really know how successful this has been.”

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Bernard Gagnon

Tornos
  1. 24/01 21:28

    Lockdown extension to February 1 published in Greek Government Gazette

  2. 24/01 21:25

    Greek PM: We want to create a ‘fast travel lane’ across the EU

  3. 24/01 21:19

    Up to two passengers and the driver allowed in taxis cars in Greece as of Monday

  4. 24/01 21:15

    Expert: 2021 Year of Greek wine and food

  5. 24/01 21:05

    Greek university rectors offer security-for-funding deal to government

  6. 24/01 18:53

    Greece records 334 new Covid-19 infections and 24 fatalities on Sunday

  7. 24/01 15:10

    Colchicine drug utilized in the fight against coronavirus in Greece

  8. 24/01 14:01

    Supermarkets and retail stores allowed to stay open in Greece on Sunday, January 24

  9. 24/01 12:57

    Cyprus bids to attract investment and promote the film industry

  10. 23/01 22:05

    EU Court allows Bulgaria to make knock-off Cypriot halloumi cheese

  11. 23/01 21:58

    New Secretary of State will strive to enhnace US-Greek security ties

  12. 23/01 21:55

    Halki Summit IV dedicated to COVID-19 and Climate Change between January 26–28

  13. 23/01 21:50

    Greek high schools students will return to their classrooms on February 1

  14. 23/01 21:27

    The Crusader castle of Chlemoutsi in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece

  15. 23/01 19:09

    Greece records 605 new Covid-19 cases and 24 fatalities on Saturday

  16. 23/01 18:37

    Greek regions of Attica and North Aegean removed from Germany’s high-risk areas travel list

  17. 23/01 18:22

    Three consecutive weather fronts forecast to affect Greece until Wednesday

  18. 22/01 16:19

    Greek retail sales record turnover drop by 5.6% during Q3 2020

  19. 22/01 16:08

    Economics Olympiad held by Secretariat General of Public Diplomacy and Greeks Abroad

  20. 22/01 16:02

    Greek FM discusses bilateral issues with German Ambassador to Athens

  21. 22/01 15:49

    Archbishop of America offers prayer at Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service (video)

  22. 22/01 15:42

    7-day quarantine for foreign passengers and restriction of flights until February 8 in Greece

  23. 22/01 15:37

    AHEPA congratulates Biden-Harris Administration on their inauguration

  24. 22/01 15:36

    Meeting at Greece's health ministry on the issue of coronavirus mutations

  25. 22/01 15:25

    The Hellenic Initiative Australia awards $50,000 ‘Winter Appeal for Greece’ grants

  26. 22/01 15:10

    Finance Ministry: Greece has to exploit all of its comparative advantages to advance

  27. 22/01 13:14

    Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jews features The Good Shepherds

  28. 22/01 11:20

    Greek PM underlines need to speed up EU's vaccines approval process

  29. 22/01 01:26

    Microsoft investment will transform Lavrio port through extended housing reconstructions

  30. 22/01 01:15

    US-Greek relations set to improve even more under Biden administration

  31. 22/01 01:11

    Turkish occupied side of Cyprus imposes COVID-19 night curfew as well

  32. 22/01 01:05

    Athens Municipality to support entrepreneurs in culture sector with up to € 7.7 million

  33. 22/01 00:55

    AP: Restructuring Norwegian Air to get government support

  34. 22/01 00:46

    Daily Covid-19 cases ease again, albeit marginally in Greece on Thursday

  35. 22/01 00:38

    Prime Minister: “Brand Greece” must be refreshed this year

  36. 22/01 00:28

    The opening of all schools among top priorities of the Greek government

  37. 22/01 00:18

    New US President to sign Covid-19 measures requiring mask use to travel

  38. 22/01 00:02

    Reinforcing bridges between Greek universities and diaspora on January 24

  39. 22/01 00:01

    Greek police to procure specialized vehicles against the Covid-19 pandemic

  40. 21/01 22:21

    Olympic Museum set to open in the Greek capital of Athens during 2021

  41. 21/01 22:02

    Survey: Greece among world bucket list destinations for global travel writers in 2021

  42. 21/01 21:54

    Greece still the only EU country with 'green' zones on ECDC Covid-19 map

  43. 21/01 21:44

    UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Commitee meets again to explore safe travel in age of vaccines

  44. 21/01 21:43

    Smithsonian: DNA analysis sheds light on the mysterious origins of the Ancient Greeks

  45. 21/01 20:20

    Vaccination appointments for citizens aged 80-84 available in Greece at 18:00 on Friday

  46. 21/01 20:16

    Bank of Greece records increase in NPLs stock by 8-10 billion euros

  47. 21/01 19:38

    Greek PM at EU Summit: Digital vaccination certificate 'is about opening up freedom of movement'

  48. 21/01 19:08

    Minister: Journalists covering protest rallies to have 'designated positions' in Greece

  49. 21/01 13:28

    Google and Koala study: Americans look to Greece for post-pandemic vacations in 2021

  50. 21/01 04:06

    Ice sculpture replica of Odeon of Herodes Atticus presented at China’s Harbin Ice Festival

  51. 21/01 03:48

    Fewer customers allowed in Greek supermarkets since store re-opening on Monday

  52. 21/01 01:45

    Analysts expect Greek tourism sector to rebound in 2021

  53. 21/01 01:33

    Greek PM tweets congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

  54. 21/01 01:14

    Greece proposes three measures to restart global tourism industry

  55. 20/01 22:53

    Night curfew in Greece remains in force despite easing COVID-19 lockdown

  56. 20/01 22:19

    Greek President: Cooperation with US even stronger during Joe Biden's tenure

  57. 20/01 21:52

    Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operates inaugural flight to Greek capital of Athens (video)

  58. 20/01 21:09

    Greek Parliament approves extending territorial waters to 12 miles in Ionian Sea

  59. 20/01 20:38

    Grand Club in the northern Greek city of Kavala reopens after extensive renovations

  60. 20/01 19:32

    Registered unemployment in Greece records an increase of 2.42% during December

  61. 20/01 18:12

    Emergency number 112 upgraded with e-Call vehicle services in Greece

  62. 20/01 16:22

    Travel receipts in Greece at €4.24 billion during first 11 months of 2020

  63. 20/01 12:43

    Two stolen 18th-century religious icons to return to Greece from Beirut

  64. 20/01 12:37

    Greek island of Crete most popular summer holiday destination for British travelers in 2021

  65. 20/01 04:20

    AP: EU Commission urges member states to speed up vaccination

  66. 20/01 04:15

    Emirates among first airlines globally to trial IATA travel pass

  67. 20/01 04:08

    Archbishop of America to take part in virtual Presidential Inaugural prayer service

  68. 20/01 04:02

    Nominated to lead UNWTO for four more years

  69. 20/01 04:00

    Finance Minister: Greek state raised two billion euros in liquidity

  70. 20/01 03:49

    Etihad Airways one of the first carriers globally to launch IATA Travel Pass

  71. 20/01 03:38

    Cyprus Deputy Tourism Minister briefs Parliament on 2021 action plan

  72. 20/01 03:12

    IATA urges support for Greek PM's initiative for digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate

  73. 19/01 23:03

    Citizens' observance of inoculation appointments surpasses 95% in Greece

  74. 19/01 22:56

    FinMin: Bond buyback and reopening plan positively affects state coffers and banks

  75. 19/01 21:44

    Greece-Bulgaria deal on IGB gas pipeline project tabled in parliament

  76. 19/01 19:14

    Roman shipwreck filled with ancient treasures discovered off Greek island of Kassos

  77. 19/01 18:34

    Greece records 566 new Covid-19 cases and 30 fatalities on Tuesday

  78. 19/01 18:07

    Attica tram drivers to hold four-hour strike on Wednesday morning

  79. 19/01 04:31

    9,000 Turkish citizens sought political asylum in Greece during the last four years

  80. 19/01 04:11

    Turkish occupied northern side of Cyprus imposes COVID-19 night curfew too

  81. 19/01 01:46

    Archbishop of Americas shares message of hope on Martin Luther King Day (video)

  82. 19/01 01:43

    SNF Dialogues Webcast: What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us?

  83. 19/01 01:30

    Greece offers tax breaks to lure the international work-from-anywhere crowd

  84. 19/01 01:24

    Greece's first public library reopens its Reading Room on Zakynthos island

  85. 19/01 01:11

    Labor Ministry examining Covid-19 as occupational hazard in Greece

  86. 19/01 00:56

    Covid-19 daily deaths drop below 20 in Greece as new infections and intubations vary

  87. 19/01 00:39

    Cypriot residents' trips abroad fall by 87.6% during December due to Covid-19

  88. 19/01 00:35

    FinMin: Greek state budget recorded lower-than-expected deficit in 2020

  89. 18/01 23:34

    Tourist arrivals to Cyprus drop by 84% during 2020 due to Covid-19

  90. 18/01 22:36

    Greece's Corinth Isthmus to remain closed to ships beyond January 19

  91. 18/01 21:58

    IATA Director General's remarks during tourism sector briefing on COVID-19 in 2021

  92. 18/01 21:28

    Greek Ministry report: Migration influx fell 80% during 2020 year-on-year

  93. 18/01 20:07

    Health Ministry: Delivery of fewer vaccines not an issue exclusive to Greece

  94. 18/01 18:47

    Fitch's Ratings forecasts Greek economic comeback despite pandemic impact

  95. 18/01 18:20

    Greece and Albania sign deal for new border security facility

  96. 18/01 17:50

    Prime Minister : Greece ready to significantly raise the number of vaccinations

  97. 18/01 16:06

    Extremely low temperatures recorded throughout Greece on Monday

  98. 18/01 13:29

    EU Commission VP underlines importance of science at conference in Greece

  99. 18/01 11:18

    Madrid set to host UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee week for global tourism

  100. 17/01 20:50

    All retail stores to open on Monday in Greece via the ‘click in shop’ method