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Makara Club Project

During my staying in Lesvos I was attracted by an abandoned nightclub near the centre of Skala Kalloni’s Village. This nightclub is extremely big, especially related to the small village it is situated, and even though it is currently abandoned you can still see how luxurious it used to be. Its strange architecture that resembles motives from ancient greek and roman culture, the exotic plants (palm trees and cactuses, etc.) in its gardens and its position in the empty fields near the fishing village makes it noticeable from far away.

What personally attracted my attention was its size and its architecture related to its surroundings. After many failed tries I managed to talk with the owner who told me that he was the one who designed the place and that he wanted to create a majestic place that would highlight the relation of the island to the glorious Ancient Greek and Roman empire. That is also the reason the club was named ‘Makara’ which according to Greek mythology was among the first settlers of the island, an important figure for the development of Lesvos.

Talking with the locals was very useful to get a better idea of what the place meant for the village and the island in general. Most of the people were happy about it. It was very important for the locals in two dimensions. Economically and socially.

Moreover, the majority of the interviewees were referring to the architect and the opulence of the club. The palm trees, the swimming pools, the lighting, the bridges, and the fountains. I found this exaggeration of the place among its more distinct characteristics that had also a special impact on the locals.

Economically, it was very successful and quite useful to the village as the big events organized by the club would attract thousands of people from all over the island to this small village. This meant many visitors to the village and more money for local businesses. People were really happy and pleased about that and that was the main reason they were unhappy when it shouted down.

Moreover,  local people were also pleased to have a big and successful club as an option for their nightlife. Many of the people I talked to have been regular visitors to the club. They mentioned that it was something new and they were proud of having it around. They were having a lot of fun and they were talking about how much fun they had there when it was opened. 

The majority of the interviewees were also talking about the size and the luxury the club was offering back in its glorious times. Almost all of them were talking about the pools, the fountains and the falls, the lighting and the sound system of the club and also about how much money people were spending when they were having fun there when the greek economy was still quite good.

After the gathering of all the aforementioned information, I tried to look at my data trying to find a theoretical concept to help me get everything together. I am still struggling in doing so and here is where I need some help.

When I started working on this project the initial idea was to see it as a place where the idea of liminality, of transition, can be observed. As a place where it used to be exaggerated and highly popular among the locals and now it is an abandoned place, soon to be transformed into another holiday resort as the owner confessed me. This transition was related also to the Greek economic crisis which was also one of the reasons the club closed, even though locals had different opinions about that. What the interviewees were mostly talking about was about how big and impressive it was and how it improved the workload of the local businesses.

In the artwork, I started working on I decided to focus on this exaggeration the club was characterized by and see if I can transmit it tho people through different mediums. I decided that the best way to do so is to create an installation using different mediums. 

I am currently working on a video that will contain different shots form the club in its current situation with interviews from local people they used to party in the club. I am also working in two drawings, one with the the architectural elements of the club and another one with the Makara Beach, a beach a the end of Kallonis gulf with the same name as the club, in which there is a special rock formation that attracted my attention as it can be related to the club due to its big size and its strange formation as well as to its impοsing presence to the space. Lastly, I am creating a bust of Makara, a fictional one, with clay which will be painted with gold to highlight the exaggeration of the club and the use of such an important name for the club.

In conclusion, I would like some help regarding the theoretical concept of my project, and the extent I should refer to it in my text and also feedback regarding the art installation I am working on. In the post, you can see some photos of the unfinished drawings and the unfinished bust of Makara. 

5 Comments

  1. Hydar Dewachi

    So glad to see your project developing Damianos and that you managed – with your infinite charm – to speak to the owner. I am also pleased to see you utilising different mediums.

    If you need to chat about the installation or just to bounce ideas with me, we can either do this here over comments or arrange a Skype chat.

  2. Panos Panopoulos

    Dear Damianos,

    I personally enjoy this return of yours to the studio with the collected data from your fieldwork and your struggle to make sense of them through theoretical concepts and experimentation with various artistic media. It is one thing to find a topic fascinating and it is a different thing to understand why this is so or how you can communicate your fascination to others! I already see in your drawings and sculpture the “transformation of the commonplace” into something else and the artistic condensation of the ethnographic encounter into a visual installation of sorts. A sense of extravagance or off limits is conveyed very clearly on what you try to make, which also develops the original idea/ concept of transition or liminality. Your drawings deliver a feeling of geographical or archaeological drawings of an earlier period, they also convey a sense of monumentality and exaggeration, a pharaonic, over the top ambitiousness and aspiration of the economic euphoria of a past decade. On the other hand, I also like the repercussions of the the drawings and sculpture with the format of traditional ways of preserving and presenting ancient ruins and cultural relics. I think they would work great in an installation/ dialogue with video footage showing the condition of the club today and with interviews of people on the significance of the club for Skala in the past.

    Best, Panos

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