“When I visited ancient Olympia, the magic of the sacred grove seemed unaltered by time. Sitting before the Temple of Hera, I read the descriptions by [the ancient historian] Pausanias about the statues within the temple – among them Praxiteles’ Hermes – and I got goosebumps.”
That was the answer given by the Sicilian photographer and photography historian Paolo Morello when we asked him which of the monuments that he had visited had made the greatest impression on him. From a list including Delphi, Nemea, Mycenae, Argos, Epidaurus, Aegina, Sounio, Vravrona, Poseidonia, Selinunte and others, Ancient Olympia was the land that had moved him the most.
Having been raised on Homer’s epics, Morello has undertaken a (photographic) odyssey of his own, visiting numerous Greek archaeological sites and capturing images of monuments in Greece and throughout Magna Graecia – the Greek colonies that existed from the 8th century BC in Southern Italy and Sicily. The result is a collection of 200 photographs, 30 of which are on display in the exhibition “Upon the Primacy of the Greeks” at the Epigraphic Museum in Athens, which will run until October 26. It will then move to Delphi and Thessloniki.
But what led him to take on such a project? “Most of my photographic work focuses on archaeology and mythology. I am interested in how the Greeks extended the myths and rituals of other cultures. Often myths conceal historic problems. I don’t mean facts or actual events, but concerns that were born in the collective unconscious. Modern societies have lost the joy of telling stories. They believe that for everything there is an explanation, and they are more interested in finding logical reasons for things than they are in trusting in the therapeutic power of a story,” Morello explains.
And it is worth seeing his photographs through this prism: as if one is being told a story without words.
The exhibition “Upon the Primacy of the Greeks”, curated by Aphrodite Economidou and with the support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Atene and the KAM Center of Mediterranean Architecture is on display at the Epigraphic Museum (Tositsa 1, Athens) until 26/10/2017.
The exhibition will subsequently be transferred in November to the Archaeological Museum of Delphi and in December to the exhibition space of the MIET bookstore in Thessaloniki.