Tramboulis, Theophilos. Catalogue Essay from "HANDMADE-On the Social Dimensions of Craft" Organized by Schwarz Foundation and EMST | National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, 2022

Even since the 1970s Eleni Mylonas has been using photograph, videos, paintings and installations in her morphologically and conceptually multidimensional work. Anthropocentric at its core and with a direct interest in the political and historical moment, her work brings together diverse cultural references that draw from both scholarly sources and a broad range of popular cultures. Over the past few years and initially drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring uprisings and protestors' makeshift protective means, she has created a series of auto-fictional photographs in which she dresses in unexpected outfits made from random and mostly mundane objects, as if to assemble a grotesque gallery of the heroes/heroines of an imaginary revolution. The ingenuity and humour of the compositions brings forth both the carnival-like character of the uprisings, as well as the craftiness, which, together with anger, are ofter an uprising's main weapons against the forces of a regime. However, most importantly from a formalist point of view, these photographs are based on a plastic arrangement of objects trouvés around Mylonas herself, who as their center emphasizes on each occasion the sculptural features of her own face. The photographs act as reminders that identity, the body, gender are also constructions that belong to an anthropological tradition, handicrafts in which the subject engages on a daily basis, through a precarious equilibrium between conformity and breaking with normality. Moreover, the way Mylonas approaches the morphology of her face brings to the fore one of the most systematic and, for that reason, almost imperceptible discrimination mechanism: ageism. In her recent work Mylonas, through play, subversion and animal drive, challenges age conventions, especially those related to gender and pleasure. 

The video O Delalis ( The Town Crier), 2014, belongs to the same cycle of works. Mylona reproduces the call of the town crier from the folk shadow theater play "Karagiozis and the Cursed Snake". According to Mylonas this monologue was impressed upon her since she was a teenager when she first saw the performance at Rallou Manou's dance theater, with music by Monos Hadjidakis performed by Giorgos Moutsios. It is a call to arms towards and entire village against the Snake, a monster that terrorizes the village and kills its inhabitants but also a metonymy for any danger that threatens the well-being of a community. Karagiozis emerges as victorious over the monster and the village's saviour, an anti-hero who, through the carnival's subversive power and daily craftiness of a man of all trades, is able to challenge any form of authority. Mylonas stands in front of a detail from an untitled work by Frida Kahlo, in which monkeys can be seen emerging from the thicket. The juxtaposition has multiple meanings. Frida Kahlo is the archetypal artist of self-fiction. In addition, her work brought about a break with the limitations of gender and the convention of able-bodiedness. The monkeys also refer to the anonymous and powerful crowd that, like Karagiozis, is ready to emerge and clain its own voice and rights. Finally, Mylonas wears the uniform of her great-grandfather Panagiotis Daglis, an important figure in Greek military history. It is double desacralization, of both personal and national history, and it is particularly crucial, from this point of view, for the work to be connected to the time of its creation: in 2014, the height of the turmoil of the Greek crisis, where the grotesqueness of the protests converged with the grotesqueness of the political management of power.