© Panos Sklavenitis. All Rights Reserved.

The miracle of the black leg

Mixed media installation, Zabriskie Point- espace d'art contemporain, 
Geneva, Switzerland, 2013 (AGORA, 4th Athens Biennale 2013)

Panos Sklavenitis organizes a research and conference process focusing on the so-called “miracle of the transplantation of the black leg”. This alleged miracle took place after the construction of a church by Pope Felix IV in Rome in 530 A.D. The church had a security guard whose foot suffered gangrene. The guard dreamed of Saints Cosmas and Damian looking for leg to replace it. Eventually they found it in an Ethiopian who was just buried in the cemetery of Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens. When the guard woke up he had a healthy black leg. The miracle is depicted in western and eastern iconography. But since the 16th century, the Ethiopian is realistically depicted on the floor writhing as the Saints operating on the guard. Sklavenitis invites artists, social scientists and philosophers to participate in a mini-conference focusing on the moral status of the miracle as violence.
The work reflects on various thematic aspects of the 4th Athens Biennial and highlights traumatic dimensions of contemporary Greek reality. The return of fascist politics in everyday agenda has facilitated an ethical rehabilitation of the “banality of evil”. It was recently revealed that members of the Golden Dawn neo-nazi party of Greece were exploiting economic immigrants and stealing their earnings. The image of the exploited Ethiopian offers a device to interrogate today’s social violence.

Text by Kostis Stafylakis

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