As Brazil prepares for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, two parallel photo exhibitions in Greece provide a flashback to the Olympics in Athens 120 years ago.
The displays at the luxury Costa Navarino resort and the Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”, titled “Olympic Games 1896: The Historic Photos of Albert Meyer – From the Benaki Collections, As Viewed by Eva Nathena”, conjure the spirit of the first Modern Olympics through reworked photographs which give viewers the feeling that they are stepping into the pictures and back in time.
The historic photos of Albert Meyer, the official photographer of the German team in 1896, come from the archives of the Benaki Museum. The 25 emblematic images are among the last surviving pieces as Meyer’s works were almost entirely destroyed during the bombing of his town, Dresden, in 1945. The photos show athletes, officials and spectators enjoying the events, and provided the inspiration for prominent Greek visual artist Eva Nathena who used technology to breathe new life into the vintage works.
Movement enhances the static images so that clouds sweep across the sky and shadows shift behind the original athletes, giving the illusion of motion. Two screens in a “cockpit” allow viewers to zoom into the scenes, immersing themselves into the installation. Sound and motion is utilized to further animate the works.
Nathena, a noted set and costume designer, says that “the documentation of the first Olympic Games in the modern era symbolizes the restoration of the Olympic athletic ideals.” She realized her vision thanks to her collaboration with video artist Angelos Papadopoulos, music by Giorgos Poulios and visual effects by artists Nikos Kouros and Antonis Petroulias.
“The 25 emblematic images are among the last surviving pieces as Meyer’s works were almost entirely destroyed during the bombing of his town, Dresden, in 1945.”