CULTURE

The chronicle of a great victory of mind over matter now on display

It is almost inconceivable that a 2,000-ton rock could have been transported through rivers and swamps in Russia of the 1770s, yet the Technopolis arts complex is currently hosting an exhibition on this very accomplishment. The exhibition «The Rock» focuses on the incredible feat of a Greek mechanic who worked at the court of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Through the use of images and an animated film, visitors are offered a step-by-step visual presentation of the creative technological devices that Cephalonia-born Marinos Harbouris applied in order to transport this great mass. The exhibition has been put together with the cooperation of the Technical Chamber of Greece and the Society for the Study of Greek History, while the scientific research was conducted by University of Metsovo Professor Theodosios P. Tsatsos. The story of the rock’s journey began when Catherine the Great expressed a desire to erect a grandiose statue of her father, Peter the Great, at a central location in St Petersburg. She summoned one of the greatest sculptors of the time, Stefano Falcone, and commissioned him with the task of fulfilling her ambitious project. The sculptor envisioned Peter the Great astride a horse climbing a hill, pulling on the reins and addressing his people. The glitch in the plan was how to construct the base, the rock, on which the sculpture would rest. After rejecting the idea of creating one large rock out of many smaller ones, Falcone and Harbouris concluded that the only solution was to find a huge natural rock that could be sculpted. The mechanic located the great rock in the middle of a marsh in a Finnish village. While trying to figure out how to transport the rock back to Russia, he spent many uncomfortable months in the wintry marsh, challenged by the cold, by illness and by the practical improbability of achieving his aim. In the end, however, he triumphed and the journey he undertook became a part of Russian contemporary folklore, as well as the subject of a book that he published in Paris. «The Rock,» to March 22 at Technopolis, 100 Pireos, Gazi. Open daily 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.