In this show, the architect and artist Nora Okka exhibits 33 examples of her work—22 squeezes of relief sculpture from the Little Metropolis and 11 squeezes of inscriptions on its reused blocks—alongside lithographs and drawings of books from the collections of the Gennadius Library, the Blegen Library, the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, as well as photographs and sketches from the Benaki Museum.
The Byzantine church known today as the "Little Metropolis” of Athens (Μικρή Μητρόπολη) incorporates many reused old blocks dating from the fourth century B.C. up to the Middle Byzantine period itself. The reuse of old stones removed from their original context, or spolia, is a ubiquitous and natural consequence of architecture in durable stone, but the Little Metropolis is extreme both quantitatively and qualitatively: it was built chiefly out of spolia and evinces a clear aesthetic program for that reuse.
In her work, Nora Okka takes interaction with spolia to a new level: the multilayer squeezes can be viewed closely as three-dimensional objects and in continually new combinations and arrangements. In presenting transfigured representations of the reused stones of an enigmatic Byzantine monument, the exhibition asks us to consider the relationships between documentation and imagination, surface and depth, originality and reuse, antiquity and modernity, abstraction and materiality.
The exhibition opened with a lecture in Cotsen Hall by Professor Manolis Korres of the Academy of Athens (“Αναχρησιμοποίηση λίθων. Ναός Παναγίας Γοργοεπηκόου”). Another lecture by Professor Dale Kinney of Bryn Mawr College will address the issue of spolia more broadly (“Spolia: Programmatic, Enigmatic, Problematic”) on Tuesday, October 29, at 7 pm.
The exhibition will remain in place until November 2, 2019, and will be open to the public on:
Thursday & Friday: 16.00-20.00