Nova Melancholia – Vassilis Noulas & Kostas Tzimoulis

© Elisavet Xanthopoulou

Artist statement

Nova Melancholia has been active inside the ever-changing space of theatrical and visual arts performance since 2007. The collective attempts a non-systematic mapping of various aesthetics, strategies and texts that have contributed to the configuration of today’s melancholy. Often the material we draw from, starts from what is happening around us, from the minority claims, the ecological demands, the current stakes. Nova Melancholia follows non-linear narrations and open dramaturgies. It uses the image- creating method of montage. Often parallel actions co-exist, actions that are seemingly non related to each other, and which create a multi-perspective landscape. Nova Melancholia uses poetry, essays and other non-theatre literature as material for its work. The produced outcome is rather a hybrid which oscillates between visual arts, choreographic performances and self-reflective staged lectures. The aesthetic strategies often include camp and/or gender identities as means of queering the spectator’s experience of the work. This gesture has the ambition to place itself within the current discourse on the political and its relation to today’s artistic product and its work ethics.

Since 2010, Nova Melancholia walks along with other collectives (Institute for Live Arts Research |Π|, the Mavili Collective, the Omonoia Collective, Green Park), actively participating in their function (organization of conferences, joined claims to the State, occupation of the EMBROS theatre, Green Park occupation). We believe in the cooperative and public nature of art because we feel that thus its inherent social and political role gets empowered. Networks of collaborations that are being weaved around and with Nova Melancholia produce politics through forms and not through declarations. Our main motivation when we create is the social reality that surrounds us, as well as our need to underline certain events that are often forgotten. Our wish is to demonstrate the great stakes at play in our times, such as the ecological and the refugee crisis, and the ways these could be transformed through the lens of art. Our creative process often starts from a reference that we are very attached to and moves us, like a text, a particular instance, an artist, even a song. Then there are the refractions of the original material, which obscure, overlap or rediscover it under a different prism. We feel more and more often that in society stereotypical behaviors are magnified and hardened to such a frightening degree that they become dangerous. As we feel the terror of these stereotypes circling us in awe, we make art to exorcize evil. We are shocked by each and every instance of femicide, the thousands of migrants lost in the Mediterranean, and now with the newly displaced persons of the war in Ukraine. We are concerned by the hardening of dogmas, the return of neoconservatism and polarization at all levels, but also in art. What motivates us is the “heterotopia” of art and the “heterotopia” of the collective places that can unexpectedly be born in a square, in an
occupied building, in a theatrical stage.
Nova Melancholia’s performances have been presented in Greece at Athens Festival, Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, Onassis Stegi, Greek Opera House, the Athens Biennial, occupied theatres, self-organized site-specific venues and BIOS – Athens amongst others. The collective has received funding several times by the Greek Ministry of Culture. The feature fiction film “The Lair” produced by Nova Melancholia and co-produced by the Greek Film Centre premiered at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2019. Nova Melancholia’s performances have been presented in international context at Santarcangelo Festival (Italy), Panta Théâtre – Caen (France), UM Gallery (Prague), Lofft (Leipzig), Societaetstheater (Dresden), Fivizzano 27 (Roma), Teatro Rasi – Ravenna (Italy) and festival Primavera dei Teatri – Castrovillari (Italy). The two members of Nova Melancholia that are applying for “Bridging the gap”, Vassilis Noulas and Kostas Tzimoulis, form together the visual arts group VASKOS. VASKOS started in Athens in 2014 and deals with hybridity exploring playfully the notion of artistic, sexual and national identity. It uses various media: performance, photography, drawing, video and ceramics.

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