Serifos’ enduring allure explored in photo exhibition

Serifos’ enduring allure explored in photo exhibition

Known for an extensive body of work depicting the painful aftermath of World War II in Greece but also a way of life that has all but disappeared under the wheels of progress and development, modern-day American philhellene Robert McCabe teams up with Katerina Kaloudi in “The Magic of Serifos,” a portrait of the Aegean island held at its archaeological museum.

In their third joint exhibition, McCabe and Kaloudi merge the island’s past and present with a collection that begins with the American photographer’s observations when he first set foot on Serifos as a young man exploring the country in the early 1950s and during subsequent visits. 

Opening on Saturday and running until the end of the year, “The Magic of Serifos” underscores those qualities that make the island special to the photographers.

“No matter how many beautiful Greek islands you have visited there is something about Serifos that stays in your mind. In our title we’ve called it magic. But it’s impossible to explain logically. What could be its ingredients? Perhaps the rich poetic landscape of the island, or the drama of Pano Chora, or the mysterious mineral deposits which have shaped the island’s life since ancient times, or its huge inviting natural harbor, or its many beautiful bays?” says McCabe in a note on the exhibition.

The school in Kato Chora, circa 1967, by Robert McCabe. 

For Kaloudi, who has had a house on the island for the past 22 years, one of the more touching aspects of the exhibition was the enthusiasm and participation of the local community, as residents came forward to help set up the show and a few even helped identify some of the people depicted in McCabe’s older photographs. 

“Robert McCabe’s photographs from the Cyclades islands and here from Serifos capture the archetypal simplicity and harmony of the archipelago shortly before it transformed into a universal tourist destination. The photographer’s images depict the timeless, quiet beauty of the Cycladic landscape with its centuries-old history that is ever-present in the daily life of the Cycladic people,” notes Demetris Athanasoulis, the head of the Ephorate of Cycladic Antiquities, one of the show’s organizers.

“The Magic of Serifos” is taking place under the auspices of George Gavalas and the Ephorate of the Cyclades. It will be inaugurated at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday, at the Archaeological Museum of Serifos (tel 22810.526.11) in Livadi, and opening hours are 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. daily except Tuesdays and public holidays, when the museum is closed. 

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