CULTURE

An observant lens eyes Messolongi

Susan Tritsi-Muhlhauser’s black-and-white photographs paired with literary fragments capture the essence of an unusual place in «Messolongi,» just released by Olkos. Messolongi fought heroically during the Greek War of Independence, and the exodus from the besieged city in 1826 inspired Greek freedom fighters and philhellenes like the British poet Lord Byron, yet now the city is something of a backwater, albeit a picturesque one. The low horizon of the lagoon, the tiny fishing craft moored to simple wooden jetties, the roadway and houses that look as if they are afloat in the lagoon have a mysterious charm, reflected here in Tritsi-Muhlhauser’s photographs. But her observant lens also records the people and customs of the place in pictures taken since she was first captivated by Messolongi on a visit there in 1979. In simple frontal shots, her subjects often gazing directly at the camera, as she captures the butcher, the baker, the fishermen, shopowners, and housewives. In a section devoted to the feast of Ai Simios which commemorates the Exodus from Messolongi but probably derives from customs recorded in antiquity, her shots record Gypsy musicians and locals acting out their traditional roles in this unique local celebration. Spiridoula Alexandropoulou’s introduction sets the historical and cultural context, and brief excerpts from poets and other writers connected with Messolongi add another dimension.