Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mount Menoikeion: The Sacred Grip

My blog postings for the month of May have slowed down considerably because of the Dumbarton Oaks symposium last weekend and a presentation last night at Princeton University. I summarize the latter here. The Mount Menoikeion project is directed by Nikolas Bakirtzis and involves a multidisciplinary workshop at the monastery of Saint John Prodromos in Macedonia, Greece. In 2005 and 2007, I supervised the investigation of the monastery's surrounding landscape, its immediate and distant territory. The last time I was at Princeton was exactly two years ago as a Seeger Fellow. It was great to return and visit old friends but also to meet this year's fellows. The program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton is probably the closest thing to a Greek think-tank in North America (and quite different from Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington). It's an extraordinary place for generating and sharing ideas. Princeton, for me, offers another treat. Although not affiliated with the university, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens has its U.S. headquarter in the town. So I got a chance to visit the busy bees of ASCSA's publication office and to share some of my recent detective work on Georg von Peschke (a very important but unknown painter who worked in the Corinth excavations during the 1930s).

Our Mount Menoikeion presentation last night anticipates a paper that Bakirtzis, Milliner and I will give in October, 2009, at the Modern Greek Studies Association conference in Vancouver. Last night also marks the first time I've used Franklin and Marshall College as my new academic affiliation. I carried the name with great pride. For more information on the Mount Menoikeion workshop explore the website here.

The Sacred Grip
Landscape and Art in Mount Menoikeion (18th-20th Centuries)


Kostis Kourelis (Franklin and Marshall College)
Matthew J. Milliner (Princeton University

Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 6:00 p.m.
Princeton University, Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103

Mount Menoikeion near Serres, Greece, preserves a rich tradition shaped around the thirteenth-century monastery of Saint John Prodromos. The monastery evolved into a major monastic center, surviving through volatile chapters of Balkan history. It is a spectacular monument of Byzantine art and architecture surrounded by an equally spectacular natural environment. In 1986, the deteriorating architectural shell was taken over by a female community of nuns whose spiritual guide, the Athonite monk Elder Ephraim, resides in Arizona. The Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University established an annual field seminar to investigate the site's complexities in its modern and contemporary Greek context. Since 2005, the Mount Menoikeion Workshop has brought together a diverse group of scholars and students from anthropology, archaeology, history, classics, religion, music and art history. In preparation for the 2009 summer research season at Mount Menoikeion, this presentation will focus on two aspects of the monastery's history: landscape and wall paintings. The early modern landscape of Menoikeion reveals an inherent tension between the ideal of monastic wilderness and its aggressive human exploitation; the monastery's eighteenth and nineteenth century frescoes illuminate the post-Byzantine aesthetic trajectory of mainland Greece.

3 comments:

Veronica said...

Hi Kostis (and the rest), I hope I can come visit the site sometime. I am very interested in anything you have to say about rural chapels in the landscape surrounding the monastery, and any cave sites in general you may have around there. Have a nice summer!

Veronica

Anonymous said...

... and about the kitchens, ofcourse!

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States