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.
From antiquity and its myths to the industrial growth and waves of migration of our time, Elefsina is filled with signs of the historical events it has witnessed. Part of the Eleusis 2023 series of Mysteries (events) is Μystery_29: Raw Museum. This event is the result of the need to rediscover the past while treating the city itself as an exhibit. Curated by architect/museologist Erato Koutsoudaki, the exhibition Raw Museum brings to the surface photographic documents by Greek and international artists as well as lithographs and also presents rare collectors’ exhibits and a narrative documentary of talking portraits. First hosted by the Benaki Museum, the exhibition has now returned to its birthplace, the city of Elefsina. Special events are taking place alongside the exhibition, so keep an eye on the schedule.