The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is an annual initiative that aims to highlight the diverse cultural wealth of European cities, and in this way help its citizens better identify with each other. This year, Elefsina—along with Veszprém (Hungary) and Timisoara (Romania)—holds the title and presents a rich cultural agenda over the course of a year.
The programme’s name, The Mysteries of Transition, was inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were secret religious practices held in Elefsina during antiquity to honour the goddess Demetra. Makes sense that each event on the programme was therefore dubbed a Mystery. The festival’s cultural agenda is built around three thematic axes: Environment, Labour, and People and Society, and includes 130 artworks, 465 events (Mysteries) in 30 different city sites, and 17 different types of art by 192 Greek and 137 international artists from 30 countries.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “requiem”? Probably something along the lines of death, mourning, and endings. Human Requiem takes a different approach in an attempt to connect the Eleusinian Mysteries with Johannes Brahms’ lengthiest composition, Ein Deutsches Requiem and brings both to the present. Brahms’ requiem is not typical to start with, since he purposefully omitted references to Christianity and made it all about the meaning of life. German director Jochen Sandig, along with choreographer Sasha Waltz, and visual artist Brad Hwang created a requiem that celebrates human existence through the acceptance of our common mortality. Since 2012, Human Requiem has travelled around the world and been hailed by the New York Times as “an anthem of our time”. A fascinating mystagogic performance for your pleasure, at the archaeological site of Elefsina.
Click here for a selection of some of Eleusis 2023’s events that will be taking part throughout the year.