“The People of Despotiko” Photo Book: An Ode to a Painstaking Restoration

The book, featuring photos by Mary Chatzaki displayed in an exhibition last year, provides an intimate look at the restoration of a major Cycladic temple.


The Melissa Publishing House recently held an event to present to the general public The People of Despotiko, a bilingual (Greek and English) coffee table book featuring photographs by Maria Chatzaki of recent archaeological work on the uninhabited Cycladic island dubbed the “The Other Delos”.

The book was first created to accompany the photography exhibition of the same name which was held last year at the Hellenic American Union in Athens and the Greek Consulate in New York.

The People of Despotiko features an insider’s view of the excavation and restoration work of archaeologists on the small island that lies just off Antiparos. This important project involves preserving and re-erecting portions of a major temple dedicated to Apollo that once rivaled in size and importance constructions on the more well-known sacred island of Delos.

The work is being carried out by archaeologist Yannos Kourayos of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades and his team, the majority of whom are graduates of the Panormos Preparatory and Professional School of Fine Arts located on the Cycladic island of Tinos, which specializes in marble crafting.

Mary Chatzaki’s photographs capture the archaeologists and workers in action at the ancient site. Louisa Karapidaki, an art historian and the curator of the exhibition, writes in the book, “Her photographs, focused on the human element, eloquently praise the material and intangible side of people’s work, while at the same time contribute to bringing aspects of ancient art and contemporary marble craftsmanship to a wider audience.”

Speaking at the book launch, Nikos Vatopoulos, a journalist and author specializing in cultural reporting, praised the artistry of Chatzaki’s work. “Mary Chatzaki, whether inadvertently or deliberately, has organized a grand, visual poem in praise of handcraftmanship; [she] has delivered to us an ode. She has turned our gaze towards primitive labor, which we often take either for granted, or view as something quaint, ignoring its spiritual foundation, and perhaps even its cultural impact.”

The book is available from Melissa Publishing House (58 Skoufa, Kolonaki) and all major bookstores.

To read more about Despotiko and Maria Chatzakis’ work click here.


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