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Shadow Theater in New York: Spyros Aggelopoulos in partnership with SNFPHI

Join us for an evening of performance, visual art and sharing across disciplines during Spyros Aggelopoulos’ live act of “Vaskania.” Aggelopoulos’ performance will critically address the different ways contemporary art can re-envision the traditional genre of Shadow Theater.

Aggelopoulos’ “Vaskania” is dedicated to new methods of fortune-telling. In the same way that the artist reshuffles “Shadow Theater” techniques and conventions he reinterprets the custom of drinking coffee followed by having one’s fortune told from the leftover coffee grounds in the cup.

We are pleased to announce Greece in USA’s partnership with the The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative in the context of this project. The (SNFPHI) awardee will present his research on Shadow Theater in a workshop at Columbia University:

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Shadow theater has a long tradition in Greece and the East. Karagioz, the folk hero, personifies the Ordinary Guy Archetype, a bit naïve, a bit of a rascal, poor and beaten-up, trying to survive against the odds by utilizing folk wisdom and tons of luck. In Aggelopoulos’s shadow theater, a mash-up of politicians, media figures, superheroes, cinema characters, and villains—from Donald Trump and Slavoj Žižek to Rocky and Freddy Kruger—competes in an imaginary arena. The big game of dominance of one hero against the other is no less fearsome than in a trading magic card children’s game. Like a true folk artist, Aggelopoulos creates a cosmogony of epic dimensions with contemporary deities and heroes, which break the boundaries of physics and escape a Media Universe (like Marvel’s) in order to reign in our imaginary in the same way Kruger reigns in the dream-realm. Place your bets on the winner.


The performance is realized with the support and partnership of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI) at Columbia University:


This workshop at Columbia University explores the role of historical research in shadow theater. SNFPHI awardee Spyros Aggelopoulos discusses with historian Christine Philliou (UC Berkeley) and Columbia faculty a new play Karagiozis in Asia Minor, the outcome of a collaboration with scholars from Turkey and Greece. How might shadow theater become a vehicle for popularizing knowledge on early 20th century identity in Anatolia, the Greek-Turkish War, and the subsequent exchange of populations? How can collaborative work between artists and scholars inspire and inform the form and content of shadow theater?

This event is co-sponsored by the Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies, the Program in Hellenic Studies, and Greece in USA.

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