The Arnode Kavos house welcomes Dimitra Kouzi

The ARNode[1] Kavos house[2] welcomes Dimitra Kouzi[3]

It felt like a visit to a church before vespers, exactly when the most interesting things happen.

Reverently, mystically, metaphysically, unhurriedly, at his own pace, as if in a ritual dance, he revealed to me the place of… worship. Little by little, with a hint of tender hesitation, perhaps embarrassment, but with the fresh youthful joy of the explorer. Like a monologue, but two-way and interactive, each sentence providing food for thought on multiple levels. An erotic confession.

It took me nearly a week to assimilate this experience of a guided tour of the ARNode Kavos house, Mit’s[4] house. At first, I kept the experience to myself, not knowing what to do, how to capture it on paper. Without crumpling it, without distorting it. Just the act of recalling it, I feared, might cause it to fade. In my mind, it was all there, but putting it into words may have altered it. 

But I never for a moment stopped thinking about it. What an honour! In Mit’s inner sanctum, where things appeared so familiar, yet so unknown. Everything was alive. I felt at every step that there were hidden aspects. And much more that I couldn’t see, parallel stories about everything, almost as if the drawings, embroideries, sculptures, furniture, lemons, garlic and Dexion shelving were in motion, communicating with each other. Everything appeared as one piece, but there were so many different stories. 

A mermaid stuffed into a bag, only her tail visible; I almost followed her on her dive into the sea. To create and then set aside, perhaps for someone else to find and discover how much freedom is there in parting with something voluntarily?  

Just everybody was preset there: Georgie (Makris)[5], Auntie Voula, Captain George (Mitropoulos), Auntie Mitsa[6] naked, taking a shower in her yard, the ouzo, the baklava in the baking pan, the 10 species of fish and other creatures in our sea[7] at the time, and a fishing line hanging from the window, “be careful not to get it caught in the railings!” (when fishing from the 3rd floor balcony).

Everything was there: deserted shores, his nudes, (which a friend of his found in a folder next to his headboard and later organised Mit’s first art exhibition in Brussels). The small sculptures, which he has not shown to anyone. I had certainly never seen them. But I would definitely like to see them again, touch them. Caress them. 

I remember them in the smallest detail, even their location, as if they had been revealed to me before going back into hiding in their secret world, their parallel world which momentarily met my own, I think, but I am again left with questions – I see whatever I can. 

The composition is his, every little corner: small desks, work left to one side, waiting for Mit to resume. Left, not abandoned; as if he had just got up, as if he sits down and gets up simultaneously, like a dancer moving with choreographed purpurse from point to point. Everything is alive, connected, pulsating, networks again, like those he has been creating all his life. Not with electricity, but with the Northern wind and the sea. The house is a ship, with bridges, stairs and tiny corners.  

The view around him, outside, with the North wind raging on that day. I had not experienced such a wind for a long time; the waves were crashing over the quay. Not a soul in sight. Where could Rouroulis the cat be? We were sailing in its stories. Together. 

And Auntie Voula’s embroideries, like icons, suspended from hangers. Seagull dreams – travels – votive offerings – Auntie Voula was there too – I heard her talking about her son Makis (Mit). I saw her, very much alive with Darina[8], at parallel at times.

Simultaneously, the young girl, the bride in a violet dress, slightly older, holding a baking tray and posing for a photograph, reading a book, her glasses attached to a cord over her neck, later in life a beautiful olive-skinned woman (“she’s one of ours”, they had said in Egypt) and finally, at her elderly age. My mother’s godmother. My dear mother, you could not endure the idea of time and age, preferring, perhaps, to leave us while still young. Yes, Darina was also there, using the open wardrobe to sit inside it, waiting with towel in hand for Auntie Voula to finish using the bathroom (I even heard her heavy footsteps in the sitting room where they both slept) 

The sun is sinking behind Mount Parnassus as backstage. I have stopped my countryside walk, on a back road that winds through fields, once a lake. I am thinking that they have nearly all of them gone, they have all died: Uncle George – Georgie, with female nylon socks in his breast pocket, Auntie Voula, my grandmother, my mother – all those people who had experienced those magical times for which, unlike me, Mit feels no sense of loss. I am suddenly overwhelmed by nostalgia. That day, the Northern wind had blown the waves over the quay of the once Nautical Club which land use changes Mit so strongly opposed: the first example of arbitrary construction in this sacred place. Of course, for many it’s no big deal, since as in the case of the exotic environment of Galaxidi (which for Mit is the area of 5 square kilometres refers to as “38° 22ʹ N 22° 23ʹ E”. Most people don’t know what they have now lost because they didn’t know what they once had as Mit frequently notes (this always scares me, especially when he associates it with opportunities we all miss (my self included) . 

Roziki beach – the obsidian[9], it was all there, in the Kavos house – buoys hanging above our heads – buoys like Sophia’s[10], lemons in a bag – along with other things on the stairs leading up to the third floor. I hadn’t been up there for years. Travel bags hanging, ready for departure; I realized that these could be the sailors’ cabins, which I had never seen. Mit’s bed, with the royal navy blanket – I hardly dared to look at it, out of respect for the ascetic – one of those grey blankets that irritate the skin, this guided tour sometimes made me feel that I barely had the right to look – life, the mock-ups, all ongoing, connected in his eyes, much still unconnected in my mind. The sea, and Delphi on snow-covered Parnassus over the distance – the kore without veils and clouds, handed over to the west. “Make it a little more difficult,” I hear him say to me.

The seagulls fluttered from Auntie Voula’s embroidery into the kitchen. “There is still room for others,” said Captain George. I have almost become one with them, as Auntie Voula sends me kisses through the windowpane on the third floor; it was freezing on that feast of the Epiphany, we were on the balcony, she was inside, outside the flag is flapping – I can’t remember the year – thankfully there were so many. I liked the green frame that I had ordered, for the photograph I had taken of her, from the picture framer at 95 Kolokotroni Street, near the pharmacy of my mother, Maria Mastorikou[11] in Piraeus – what was he called? 

I have stopped at the side of the road, next to a field, and I am writing, while listening to Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne. I am thinking of Mit’s models, the coy ones.

Dimitra Kouzi, Galaxidi, October 2020

Read Mit Mitropoulos in To Galaxidi newspaper:
“Family Moments from a Galaxidi Sailor's Lifetime”, 6/2017
“The Sea Acted the Role of the Muse at the Time”, 2/2019
“On Complexity”, Alzheimer's 2/2017 conference, 6/2019    

The article The ARNode Kavos house welcomes Dimitra Kouzi was first published in the newspaper To Galaxidi, October 2020. It is part of on-going notes towards a documentary on the same subject.

[1] Archive Research Node in progress 

[2] The house of George and Voula (the captain's wife) Mitropoulos. 

[3] Journalist, filmmaker, dimitrakouzi@gmail.com From the guided tour, January 2020. Three floors facing the sea, above and beyond which part of the ‘Delphic Landscape’ extends. The family home is in the process of being transformed into a Research Museum that will be known as the Archive Research Node (ARNode), as just one node in a wider network. By the end of September 2020, two of the four ARNode definition phases had been completed. 

[4] Mit Mitropoulos (baptised Efthymios), Researcher, Environmental Artist (2013mitisa@gmail.com) taking over from his parents at 125 Akti Oianthis, (Kavos) Galaxidi.

[5] George Makris, the brother of my grandmother, Eleni Makri, and chief officer on the vessel captained by George Mitropoulos. As a child in Holland, Mit often shared his cabin with him. I remember at 186 Praxitelous St. in Piraeus, the left-hand, single-door wardrobe in the bedroom of G. Makris (Georgie, we called him) which instead of clothing contained all his tools, hanging neatly arranged. 

[6] Mitsa Mitropoulou, Mit’s (also my aunt).

[7] I don’t remember all the names but they included the annular sea bream, peacock wrasse, red scorpionfish, some other brightly coloured ones that looked more like tropical fish, Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, European conger, sand steenbras. And the octopus, which my father, Thodoros Kouzis, fished with a speargun off Voidikas beach (the site where the biological wastewater treatment plant was built years later). It is the islets of Ai Giorgi, Apsifia and Agios Dimitrios, places where we went on day trips in our boat “Dimelana”. These fish have now disappeared, due to pollution and overfishing.  

[8] Darejan Stvilia from Kutaisi--brought up in Sohoumi (in the Abkhazia region Russia annexed by force in recent years). The wonderful Georgian housemaid who, as if a member of the Mitropoulos family, assisted Mit and Auntie Voula when she began to suffer from memory loss, but nevertheless lived well for the next 10 years, up to age of 103. Information and Exercises for people with memory degeneration are available in the library of Galaxidi, the result of Mit’s 10 years of experience with the disease and his 4 Alzheimer's conference presentation. 

 

[9] Obsidian, hard glass formed as a rock, is found in volcanic areas. Sources of obsidian are few; in the Aegean, they are limited to Milos, Antiparos, and Yali. Because of its hardness, Milos obsidian was used in the Neolithic period to make tools and weapons. At Roziki, Mit had located one (of two) workshops sites. There was line-of-sight- visual contact between these sites, which afforded control over approaches by sea. As confirmed by Professor Colin Renfrew (Mit kept in touch with), the obsidian had come from Milos

[10] Sophia A. Martinou, The Glass Buoy, Iolkos Publications, 2017.

[11] The drugstore she continued to run following my pharmacist grandfather Dimitris (Mitsos) Mastorikos“ It was there, at 9 Bouboulinas Street, that a group of Galaxidiotes decided to resume publication of To Galaxidi newspaper as an integral part their association”. (Excerpt from To Galaxidi, 7/2018, by D. Kouzi "Our local newspaper in the era of fake news”). 

Both pictures taken from same seating position in 'desk area' ground floor studio (the sur-elevated pavement) (connecting the group of 4 houses facing the water). One photo shows the interior as you turn left, that includes blackboard,tools, found objects, artworks.Turn to your right you face the sea, beyond the coastal road and ,and above and over the water Delphi stands.

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