Work in progress. A collaboration with artist Eva Giannakopoulou.
Sarakiniko Alternatives Leben GmbH
In November 1978, German artist Wido Buller from Cologne circulated a pamphlet in several German cities as the means of a rather unexpected public invitation: “We are looking for about 100 people, crazy enough to inhabit an island and lead a life in pursuit of developing their own concept of sociality.” Forming ‘Alternative Life in Sarakiniko Ltd.’ (Sarakiniko Alternatives Leben GmbH), he hoped to find persons willing to deposit a total of 10,000 German marks to the company, an amount which would allow the purchase of a sufficient amount of land on the island of Ithaca. In the summer of 1979, two hundred Germans, both men and women, arrived to the ‘place to be inhabited’, Sarakiniko cape in southeast Ithaca.
There, an Eco-municipality was set up across 480 acres, based on communal, collective structures and micro-economic processes, emphasizing organic farming, stockraising, handicrafts, alternative energy and technology sources. It was the most populous and most dynamic communal experiment of the 1970s anywhere in Europe.
The Sarakiniko community was exemplar during its first years. Soon, however, lack of a common goal in this co-habitation, financial difficulties of individual members, as well as outside pressure on the commune due to the tourist development of the island, drove the
venture to a decline course. The township began to wane and lose its communal character, the decisive blow being abandonment of the venture by a large percentage of the inhabitants in 1986. Nowadays there are only a few inhabitants left in Sarakiniko, some of them spending time both in Germany and in Greece during the year, others visiting only for rather typical vacations. The ‘Sarakiniko experiment’ has been chronicled in several articles, both in the Greek and the international press, as well as in two documentaries. In January 1987, the “ΠΕΜΠΤΗ ΕΠΟΧΗ” (Pemti Epochi) produced and broadcasted by Greek TV station ‘ΕΡΤ’ (ERT) featured a documentary entitled “Utopia. Sarakiniko of Ithaca”, while in 2010 Thomas Schmitt created a documentary called “ΤRAUMINSEL revisited, 30 Jahre Sarakiniko Alternatives Leben GmbH”, produced by Arte.
Both in the aforementioned documentaries as well as in newspaper articles pertaining to the commune, the narrative focuses almost exclusively on recounting the so-called ‘social experiment of Sarakiniko’ and featuring stories told by its instigators. Our experimental art research proposes a new approach on the subject, examining the analogies between the Sarakiniko paradigm and modern theories of ‘commons’, via an artistic and theoretical investigation of historical and current sociopolitical expressions of alternative habitation. Using the coincidental (or not) choice of Ithaca for such a bid at alternative habitation as a starting point, our narrative will focus on the concepts of symbolic motherland and utopian habitation. Taking our cue from participatory and personal observation (as we were both born in Ithaca, two years before the beginning of the Sarakiniko experiment, and we have interacted with the community in many ways) we shall examine both life in the commune, as well as frictions with the local community, emphasizing the complex relationships that formed between the township and the local population and their effect on the lives of the subjects involved.
'SΑRAKINIKO’. A PROJECT BETWEEN ART AND ANTHROPOLOGY | Μay 2018 | Rm 318, Glass Building, Panteion, Athens, GR
Co-ordination: Eva Giannakopoulou and Panos Sklavenitis with the collaboration of Eleana Yalouri.
'Sarakiniko' | 16 Nov 2018 | Athens biennale 2018 - ANTI, Esperia Palace, GiGi., Athens, GR
Performative installation with Eva Giannakopoulou and Panos Sklavenitis
Participants: Margarita Amarantidi, Evriviades Goro, Theodore Κakitsos, Argyris Marinis, Savvas Τsimouris, Katerina Kalentzi, Avgoustina Stilianou, Theodora Savvalaridi, Artemis Stefanidu, Maro Stefanidu
GiGi is a co-production between the Goethe Institute of Athens anf the Athens Biennale 2018: ANTI.