Cavafy Archive: Activities 2013-2014 / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

Cavafy Archive: Activities 2013-2014

29 October 2013 - 31 December 2014
Marking Cavafy Year and its acquisition of the Cavafy Archive, the Onassis Foundation is organizing a series of actions centred on C.P. Cavafy, his work and its links to the present. Through this series of events, the Onassis Foundation seeks to highlight the continued relevance of the Alexandrian poet’s oeuvre.

Academic Advisor: Anastasios-Ioannis D. Metaxas
Designer of Ιnitiatives of the Archive: Afroditi Panagiotakou
Scholarly Advisor: Dimitris Papanikolaou
Project Manager: Theodorοs Chiotis
Activities 2013-2014

C.P. Cavafy at the Plato’s Academy Leisure Park
Visual Dialogues 2013
7 November 2013 - 7 January 2014
Plato’s Academy Leisure Park
12:00 - 18:00, daily  | Free entrance

The Visual Dialogues 2013 leave the confines of the OCC to transform the Plato’s Academy Leisure Park into an ideal space for exhibiting works inspired by the great Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy.
This year, the Visual Dialogues, which the OCC is staging for the third time, mark the 150th anniversary of the birth and 80th anniversary of the death of the great poet, C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933). A stroll through the Plato’s Academy Leisure Park becomes a journey around works by contemporary Greek and international artists which deal with the presence of ancient Greek thought in Cavafy’s poetry. New and original art-works using modern technologies (video screenings, digital images, photographs and animation etc.) are shown in architectural constructions which become a compass for a journey with a difference.

Exhibition curator: Marilena V. Karra


Μedea Electronique: "Monotonia"
Audiovisual installation inspired by C.P.Cavafy's poem "Monotony"

14 April - 15 June 2014

Medea Electronique’s audio-visual sculpture/installation Monotony takes Cavafy’s poem “Monotony” as its starting point. The work, which will be presented at the OCC between April and June 2014, explores the “monotonous thoughts” which define our daily lives. The artists say it is the bogus illusions of material goals that lure us into the endless repetition that becomes a monotonous motif in our lives. The work sets out to exhort each and every viewer to create their own personal path through life by connecting moments from their everyday using sounds and images that seem locked into a monotonous cycle.


“As much as you can”
Athens Multicultural High School

In Intercultural Middleschool of Athens, a pupil from Syria sets out to read Cavafy’s “As much as you can” out loud in class. An allegorical story about all our journeys seen through the protagonist’s eyes. Taking the Alexandrian poet’s “As much as you can” as their starting point, Grigoris Rentis (direction) and the child psychologist / theatre director and head of the OCC’s Youth Stage, Sophia Vgenopoulou (script) made a short film with a moving message. Once again, Cavafy’s work transcends the cultural boundaries of Greece to unify the individual members of the class into a social whole typified by genuine solidarity. The film is to be shown in schools around the country and in cinemas.
Click here to see the film.


Cavafy in Braille

The Onassis Foundation Cavafy Archive joined forces with the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Education of the Blind (KEAT) to publish an edition of Cavafy’s poems in Braille. In so doing, they aim to create a reference edition which will prepare the way for other, similar initiatives. The new volume goes some way towards filling the gap in the availability of poetry books for the unsighted. The book will be made available to the sighted and the visually impaired by the OCC and KEAT. Click here to watch a related video.


Cavafy font

The Onassis Foundation Cavafy Archive is proceeding with the creation of a digital font based on Cavafy’s handwriting. The font is based on the Segopoulos Copybook, and will feature a complete set of Greek (both single and multiple diacritics) and Western characters. The font will be available for use on all platforms. Its design has been undertaken by the Hellenic Digital Type Library and the graphic artist Giannis Karlopoulos (


One-minute pieces of music

Taking up an original idea suggested by Giorgos Koumentakis, the Onassis Foundation Cavafy Archive invited a number of artists to create one-minute pieces of music inspired by Constantine Cavafy’s poetry. The pieces borne of this collaboration will now have visuals added to them with a view to creating reference works which will be made widely available on a number of platforms. Participants include Giannis Aggelakas, Konstantinos Beta, Monika, Nikos Dounas, Nikitas Klint, Coti K, Stavros Gasparatos, Giannis Papaioannou (ION), Nikos Patrelakis and Drog A Tek.


Cavafy in Oxford

The Cavafy Archive and Oxford University’s Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages will be inaugurating the international interdisciplinary seminar entitled “Cavafy in Oxford”. The seminar, which will take place in Oxford throughout 2014 and will feature academics from around the world drawn primarily from the fields of comparative literature, classical and cultural studies. The series will also feature discussions on a variety of subjects including “Cavafy and Classical philologists”, “Cavafy and Archaeology”, “Cavafy and Gender Studies”, and “Pop Cavafy”. The series is a continuation of the highly successful “Cavafy Week” held in Oxford in June 2013—a week of events which set out to analyze the global popularity of the Alexandrian poet and to spotlight research into new aspects of his work.
Organized by the Sub-Faculty of Byzantine and Modern Greek, University of Oxford.


Onassis Foundation – Affiliate Foundation USA

The PEN American Centre has joined forces with the Onassis Foundation (US) for the staging of a major Cavafy event on 18 November 2013 in the Town Hall, New York. The event will feature celebrated writers, academics, actors and artists including Olympia Doukaki, Kathleen Turner, Orhan Pamuk, André Aciman, Daniel Mendelsohn and Edmund Keeley engaging with Cavafy’s work in a staged performance which seeks to highlight the timeless, universal quality of the poet’s work. The performance will be recorded and sent to schools and universities around the US on DVD. The event is curated by Jakab Orsos, director of PEN World Voices.
Two performances of poems by Cavafy set to music took place as part of the Onassis Foundation (US) University Seminars Programs. The performances, which featured Professor Vasilis Lambropoulos, the soprano Alexandra Grava and the pianist Despina Apostolou-Hölscher, were given in Mexico City and Santiago de Chile on 28 October 2013. The same programme was performed—under the auspices, once again, of the University Seminars Programs—in the spring of 2012 at Columbia, Yale, Brown University, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Indiana University and the University of Iowa.


Museum of Cycladic Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art, in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation Cavafy Archive, is contributing to Cavafy Year with an exhibition entitled “Ideal and beloved forms: illustrating Cavafy’s poems”.
Taking the phrase “idealized voices, and beloved” from the poem “Voices” as its starting point, the exhibition sets out to use archaeological artefacts to illustrate poems by Cavafy whose subject-matter is inspired by mythology and history. Academics have posited that works of this kind make up a third of the poet’s oeuvre.
The show alludes to the real meaning of a number of important poems by Cavafy through the arrangement of the exhibits and staging of the exhibition. This serves to interweave both the interpretation of the poems with the ancient works, and the years in which the poems were written with the eras in which Cavafy’s protagonists were active. This allows the modern reader and museum-goer to commune with the works in a different way.


"But may remain here"
The Cavafy Archive and its significance

June 2014

The conference will inaugurate a new debate on the role and use of the Cavafy Archive in the context of a policy which seeks to ensure the archive remains genuinely open and available both to the public and to researchers. A number of distinguished Cavafy scholars will be attending to discuss the problems, potential, breadth and depth of the archive material. The ensuing dialogue will highlight both the significance of the Cavafy Archive and the challenges it presents today.
The conference will also attempt to extend the discourse on archive-related theoretical, methodological and cultural issues through a number of specific sections. Thus, although the event will primarily aim to provide a forum for a discussion of the uniqueness of the Cavafy Archive and the new accessibility policy the Onassis Foundation wants to put in place, there will also be presentations on more general issues pertaining to both archive policies and poetics.
The choice of speakers and the questions they will be asked will aim to:
a) ensure there is a meaningful and wide-ranging interdisciplinary discussion on the issues posed by the archive;
b) shed light on highly specific issues pertaining to the Cavafy Archive through the prism of more general aspects of archive cultural policy, and vice versa;
c) to initiate a broader debate on archive management in Greece taking, the Cavafy Archive and its management by the Onassis Foundation as a key example.
The conference title, “To remain here”, refers to a note Cavafy often added to poems he wanted to remain in his archive: “Not for publication; to remain here”. The phrase underscores, too, the importance the Cavafy Archive assumes both for the continuing reception of the poet’s work and for its accessibility to academics and the public in years to come.


Scholarly Advisor cycle "C. P. Cavafy": Dimitris Papanikolaou

What happens when Cavafy takes public transport?

4 November 2013
Main Stage | 19:00 | Entrance free

What happens when lines from poems are put out there using the omnibus of mass communication platforms? How does poetry relate to everyday life? What sort of perils does Cavafy face when… he takes the Metro? How ready are we to treat poetic texts as a domain for dialogue and re-creation? Academics, researchers, art critics and journalists will be coming together on the Main Stage of the OCC to discuss Cavafy on public transport on Monday 4 November 2013. Taking their cue from the recent Cavafy Archive media campaign on Athens’ buses, trams and underground, the panelists will be discussing the place art might hold in our everyday lives, the ways in which poetry can raise issues relating to cultural heritage and its management, the aesthetic of the fragment, and the political dimension of popular and Pop culture.
The participants will try to draw conclusions from the campaign’s public juxtapositions of poetry and life and explore the range of ways in which C.P. Cavafy’s work is read and received today.


Cavafy in our time

10 December 2013
Upper Stage | 19:00 | Free entrance

In this session, scholars, writers, poets and educators will approach C. P. Cavafy’s work accentuating the multiple avenues of reading, understanding, and using Cavafy’s work in our time. The reception and use of C.P. Cavafy’s poetry in times of crisis; the teaching and reading of Cavafy inside and outside the school class and the enduring relevance of the Cavafian oeuvre; all these topics will form the axis of the discussion.

Daniel Mendelsohn in conversation with Dimitris Papanikolaou

21 January 2014
Main Stage | 19.00 | Free entrance

In celebration of the Cavafy Year and the acquisition of Cavafy Archive, the Onassis Foundation organizes a series of events at the Onassis Cultural Centre revolving around C.P. Cavafy, his oeuvre and its connections with our time; in this manner, the relevant character of the Alexandrian’s poet is going to come to the fore.
Over the course of a special evening, Daniel Mendelsohn, academic, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and translator of the entirety of Cavafy’s oeuvre, will engage in conversation with Dimitris Papanikolaou,  lecturer in Modern Greek Studies at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St. Cross College, about the Alexandrian poet, his manifold, multidimensional work and its continuing relevance.


"Cavafy" series of lessons

25 January - 22 February 2014

Four distinguished academics are going to teach the series of lessons “Cavafy” in which they will approach the life and work of the Alexandrian poet from a multitude of angles. The aim of the series is the novel approach of reading and comprehending the Cavafy oeuvre and its legacy. At the end of the four sessions, all four academics are going to take part in a round table meeting.   The topics of the four sessions are as follows: “Cavafy: Life and Work”, “Cavafy and Aesthetics”, “Historical Cavafy” and “Erotic Cavafy”.
The sessions of the cycle are going to take place over five consecutive Saturdays: 25 January and 1, 8, 15 & 22 February 2014.


The Sensual Cavafy

28 January 2014
Upper Stage| 19:00 | Free entrance

Sensuality is not merely one of the themes of C.P. Cavafy’s poetry but it forms a driving force in the poet’s creative process; as a subject itself, it has never stopped giving food to the scholars and readers of the work. The academics, visual artists and writers participating in the discussion will trace the ways in which Cavafy’s oeuvre has brought forth news ways of perceiving and understanding the individual.


From Cavafologists to Cavafistas

14 April 2014
Upper Stage | 19:00 | Free entrance

C.P. Cavafy and his oeuvre have surpassed the Greek borders: the poet and his work are now considered to be a point of reference for artists and individuals both inside and outside Greece. Cavafy has been assimilated and is now part of the so-called mass culture. In the discussion, the participants are going to delve into topics such as Cavafy’s presence on the web, Cavafy’s reception by an international audience, Cavafy and photography, the Cavafian oeuvre as a source of inspiration for photographers and Cavafy and his influence on performance art.



Cafavy goes to school
The OCC and the Cavafy Archive take an educational programme based on the Alexandrian poet into schools
October 2013-April 2014
Aimed at: Secondary-school children  

Can we get to know Cavafy through... comics, assemblages and hip hop?
The OCC and the Cavafy Archive venture into the nation’s schools. Speaking the students’ language, they bring Cavafy’s poetry into the classroom in the most experiential way possible. In five original workshops, the two institutions use the most unpredictable of art forms to find a way into the Alexandrian poet’s ‘sacrosanct’, unyielding texts. The creative and original readings that ensue will help students interpret and gain a better understanding of the poems as well as highlighting the contemporary nature of his work.

1. Cavafy in the hands of children...
Creating objects inspired by Cavafy’s poems

Armed with card, pieces of wood and other material, the students create a series of objects inspired by Cavafy’s poems. The workshop will be led by the poet Katerina Iliopoulou and the visual artist Ilianna Skoulaki.

2. Every verse a picture...
What if Cavafy were comics? Illustrating Cavafy’s poems.

What might “Ithaca” look like illustrated? Verses become images and students are invited to create their own comics. The workshop will be led by the poet Maria Topali and the painter and illustrator Vasilis Papatsarouchas.

3. A school full of... Cavafy
A Cavafy-based visual intervention in schools

We transform our school into an absolute Cavafian environment with assemblages made out of words and boxes. The large-scale visual environment we create will mean our school reminds us of Cavafy forever! The workshop will be led by the author Christos Chrysopoulos and the visual artist Kostas Roussakis.

4. Timeless poetry’s always ‘in’... this time round as hiphop.
Adapting Cavafy’s poems in the hip hop idiom

What would “Come Back” sound like recited in a hip hop style? The OCC and the Cavafy Archive invite students and teachers to take an entirely new and alternative approach to the poet’s work. The workshop will be led by the poet Thomas Tsalapatis and the music producer and hip hop artist, Jeff Gonzalez.

5. Cavafy: one poet, a thousand readings.
Innovative recitations of Cavafy’s work

Have you ever imagined “Waiting for the Barbarians” as a play? Can you think of a different way of reciting the poem? In this workshop, you can use video, animation and whatever else takes your fancy to read Cavafy’s works! The workshop will be led by the poet Panagiotis Ioannidis and the director Grigoris Hatzakis.

Zoom backstage

The “Zoom backstage” programme will introduce schoolchildren aged 11-17 to the visual artists participating in this year’s Visual Dialogues, which will be taking the poetry of C.P. Cavafy as their subject-matter. Having been acquainted with contemporary art-forms (installations, video art), the students will be urged to respond to the works in the Visual Dialogues in their own unique way--by talking to the artists and recording the experience in texts that will be turned into a publication of their own, and by photographing and documenting their encounters with the poet.



14 Apr 2014

19:00 Upper Stage
Free admission


From Cavafologists to Cavafistas Cycle "C.P. Cavafy"

28 Jan 2014

19:00 Upper Stage
Free admission


The Sensual Cavafy Cycle "C.P. Cavafy"

25 Jan - 22 Feb 2014

4th Floor Foyer
Free admission


"Cavafy" series of lessons Cycle "C.P. Cavafy"

21 Jan 2014

19:00 Main Stage
Free admission


Daniel Mendelsohn in conversation with Dimitris Papanikolaou Cycle "C. P. Cavafy"

10 Dec 2013

19:00 Upper Stage
Free admission


Cavafy in our time Cycle "C. P. Cavafy"

7 Nov 2013 - 7 Jan 2014

Free admission



Visual Dialogues 2013 C.P. Cavafy at the Plato’s Academy Leisure Park

4 Nov 2013

19:00 Main Stage
Free admission


What happens when Cavafy enters the means of mass transport Cycle C.P. Cavafy