For the first time, a modern art exhibition is being held on Greece’s 5,000-year-old archaeological site, the Delos island, once a flourishing trading center in the middle of the Aegean Sea near Mykonos.
The site-specific exhibition by Antony Gormley, one of Britain’s best known sculptors, is presented by the Greek nonprofit organization NEON in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades, a regional service under the General Directorate of Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
This project, entitled SIGHT, exhibits 29 life-size iron body sculptures made by the artist during the last twenty years, including 5 specially commissioned new works, both at the periphery and integrated amongst Delos’ archaeological sites.
The sculptures are being placed in various parts of the island, with the visitors being invited to discover them with the help of printed material. Two sculptures stand in the sea close to the shore, while some are on the Kynthos hill, in the Agora of the Competaliasts, at the entrance of the Stadium, on the Stage of the Theater and in other monument.
The exhibition, which will last until Oct. 31, also marks the first time a contemporary art installation has been unanimously approved by the Greek Archaeological Council to take place in Delos, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The tiny island of Delos is revered in Greek mythology as the sacred birthplace of twins Apollo, god of light, and Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Nowadays, it is usually inhabited by just a handful of archaeologists and scientific researchers, with its ruins stand devoid of human presence.
Gormley, an award-winning sculptor who is acclaimed for creating sculptures and installations that explore the relationship between the human body and space, told Xinhua it’s an honor for him to exhibit his art works on the island.
“It’s a huge honor, a huge responsibility and a huge challenge, to be the first artist to touch the island in 2,000 years,” Gormley told Xinhua Friday at the site of his exhibition.
“I am hoping this exhibition will reanimate in a way that make people look differently with great alertness, think about the nature of the island, about its relations to the other islands, and maybe more generally about the human presence,” he said.
Gormley admitted Buddhism has an important influence on his art creations, which he studied in India in early 1970s, “it taught me the body itself is an extraordinary teacher.”
“We use the body as a machine, but in fact the body is a very sensitive receiver of not just information but feelings,” he explained.
Gormley’s works have been on show in many countries worldwide and his recent show in China was in 2017, when his works “Critical Mass II” were exhibited in Shanghai and Changsha.
He had been to China for many times since 1995 and told Xinhua that in his view, China is becoming more and more open-up.
“China is changing, is doing a lot to promote the cultural exchanges between China and the West,” he said.
He recalled his exhibition in Changsha of China’s Hunan Province as a show dealt with modern history as the city is a very important place for China’s recent history, and for this current exhibition on Delos island, “it deals with ancient history.”
For Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, the extensive ruins within the unspoilt natural beauty of uninhabited Delos offer the visitor an unique experience.
“Antony Gormley’s sculptures give the visitor the pleasure of wandering amid this Delian anasynthesis which is ideally suited to reflecting on our identity and exploring our cognitive and aesthetic ties with the past,” he said in a press release.
“This exhibition is an exceptional opportunity for a wide audience to engage with Gormley’s work and be reminded how central art is to the human story. I hope visitors will leave Delos feeling that his contemporary sculpture and this site belong to us all,” Elina Kountouri, Director of NEON, said in the press release.