Cartier-Bresson in Monodendri
In keeping with its efforts to integrate the rural region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, into the country’s cultural map, the Rizarion Foundation is currently presenting a photography exhibition featuring work by Henri Cartier-Bresson in Monodendri, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Ioannina. Titled «The Europeans,» the exhibition has recently a stint at the Benaki Museum in Athens. The venture comes as the Rizarion Foundation’s latest admirable effort. In recent years, the foundation, led by Angelos Kitsos, has held many worthy exhibitions. It has also released high-caliber publications, such as «Images of Greece, 1903-1930» by the Swiss photographer Fred Boissonas, and «Russia – 100 Years of Photographic Evidence,» a collection of material from various international news agencies. The effort to follow up on the capital’s Cartier-Bresson show with a second exhibition in Monodendri was jointly organized by the Rizarion Foundation, the Paris-based Cartier-Bresson Foundation, and the Apeiron agency. A total of 140 photographs by Cartier-Bresson have, as a result, been culled. Until recently, staging an exhibition of such international proportions in this rural region would have proven impossible due to a lack of infrastructure and organization. The establishment of a well-equipped exhibition center in Monodendri has certainly helped draw major events to this remote part of Greece. The Rizarion Foundation has acquired its own exhibition center, built according to the region’s traditional architectural standards. Financial support for its construction was proffered by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation as well as by the EU’s Interreg II program, set up to stimulate inter-regional cooperation. Besides its architectural appeal, the center is, more importantly, developing into a regional hub for growing cultural and economic growth in Epirus. Its arrival also carries an important message in support of decentralization. The recent Boissonas exhibition, for example, attracted thousands of visitors to the peripheral town. Prior to this, cultural tourism, on this scale, was unprecedented. The Rizarion Foundation’s success can be attributed to two main aspects: firstly, its extensive collaboration with archives, collectors, museums, and other foundations – both in Greece and abroad – and secondly, commitment to staging important events hundreds of kilometers away from Athens.