From January 18 to March 11, 2022, the exhibition “Remember me and love me” dedicated to the life and works of late Greek artist and politician Melina Mercouri will be open to the public at the Technopolis cultural complex in Athens.
Organized by the Municipality of Athens in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Melina Mercouri Foundation, the exhibition will mark the 100th anniversary since Mercouri’s birth.
Melina Mercouri, or just Melina – as Greeks call her – was an award-winning actress, activist and politician who served two terms as minister for Culture (1981-1989 and 1993-1994), the first woman to occupy the post. One of her most enduring legacies as a minister for Culture was her passionate advocation for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, a difficult cause that has gained great international traction only lately, 40 years later. With her inexhaustible vitality, rare charm and her international radiance, Mercouri was one of a kind and definitely among the most important Greeks of the 20th century.
The inauguration of the exhibition on the 18th of the month, is not incidental: the number 18 was hers and her life partner´s, prominent director Jules Dassin’s lucky day – since Melina´s birthday was on the 18th, they met on an 18th, got married on an 18th and planned all of their film premiers on the 18th.
Under the title “Remember and love me”, -allegedly one of her beloved turns of the phrase- the exhibition at Technopolis will present Mercouri’s life and work through three sections, one for each of her careers: movies, theater and politics. The exhibition will feature rich photo and audiovisual material as well as personal items – some exhibited for the first time.
Items include 13 costumes from theatrical performances and films; 25 posters from her cinema career; 37 photos of Mercouri with international personalities such as Indira Gandhi, Catherine Deneuve, Arthur Miller, Rudolf Nureyev, Omar Sharif, Ava Gardner, Catherine Deneuve, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, Felipe Gonzalez but also Salvador Dali, who she met at his invitation in 1965, when she was in Spain for the shooting of “Mechanical Pianos” and they did a joint interview- discussion; original scripts with handwritten notes; six letters; her dressing room; and items she carried during her last trip to New York.
Through these items, we will get to know Melina a little better, Melina the actress of “Stella” and “Never on Sunday“, “Phaedra” and “Top Kapi“, Melina the socialite who charmed Cannes In 1960, the singer who sang “Ta paidia toy Peiraia“, Melina as Clytemnestradirected by Karolos Koun at Epidaurus in 1980, Melina the tireless anti-dictatorship activist, the minster for Culture associated with the claim of the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece, and Melina the European politician who has conceived and proposed in 1983, the institution of the European Capital of Culture as a cultural policy of the European Union.
Nikolaos Kaltsas, the exhibition´s curator told News24/7: “My goal, as a curator, was to present the multifaceted personality of Melina Mercouri, our longest-serving Minister of Culture. Of course, from the rich material at our disposal, a strict choice was made for the specific area of approximately 400 sqm”.
“The exhibition is structured in three sections. In the first section, we present Melina the international film actress: photographs, original posters from films screened abroad, selected screenplays from films and letters received by renowned artists. Also, a video with excerpts of films from this period, costumes from the film Stella directed by Michalis Cacoyannis, as well as the dress she wore at Cannes in 1960, where she won Best Actress in a Leading Role for the Jules Dassin directed film Never on Sunday.
The second section is dedicated to the theater. In a video, the visitor will see in chronological order all the performances in which Melina participated, from her first appearance to her last historical appearance in Epidaurus as Clytemnestra in the Oresteia trilogy, directed by Karolos Koun. Selected photos from successful performances, such as Medea, the Sweet Bird of Youth, Ilya Darling, as well as costumes she wore in her theatre roles, such as Anna of the Thousand Days, Miss Ba, Alexandra Del Lago and others.”
“The third section is dedicated to Melina Mercouri the activist and minister of Culture. Informative material, photos with politicians such as Indira Gandhi, Felipe Gonzalez and others, as well as informative texts on banners that showcase her activism for the restoration of democracy in Greece and her activity as minister for Culture for the institution of Municipal Regional Theaters, the institution of the European Capital of Culture and for the return of the Parthenon marbles”.
Nikolas Kaltsas concludes: “In this exhibition the visitor will get a complete picture of every aspect of her public life. Melina was probably the only Greek woman who is so well known internationally as an actress and as a politician, and I think that is well documented through this exhibition. I believe her personality will never be forgotten, because her initiatives and her work mainly as a politician will always accompany us. The Greek and foreign press said everything about this woman, when her death was announced with a single phrase on its front pages, such as the Corriere della Sera who called her the “Last Greek Goddess”“.
All Photos courtesy of the Melina Mercouri Foundation.
Dates: The exhibition opened its doors on January 18 and will run until March 11.
Visiting days/hours: Tuesday – Sunday, from 11am – 8pm. Admission is free.
Location: Technopolis Cultural Complex, Exhibition Hall: Neoi Fournoi