My mother, Athina, from Ioannina-Epirus, lived most of her life in Athens; as youngster in Petralona, as married woman and mother in Kypseli and then later in Maroussi a northern suburb of Athens (and earlier times a village). She lived a simple life with a husband, two children, love, smile, beauty, some dramas and many sorrows. She didn’t enjoy eating nor drinking. She loved animals; she’d feed stray cats systematically and saved many of them from sickness and from street life dangers (unfriendly dogs, neighbors, cars, etc.). She was a tireless craftswoman in crochet and knitting; and somewhat in embroidery.
She kept her wishes dimmed, yet contributed her acts of rebellion just as we all ought to do (no matter how small). She got cremated in Bulgaria because the Greek State has not managed to surpass the church’s claim to our bodies (soul is not enough). It was her wish to be cremated despite the church’s commands and against most of her acquaintances and distant relatives’ expectations. Her own people had long before her departed. There was no ceremony; only my brother and I said goodbye to her body before the last trip to Sofia.
When still in Kypseli, on the first anniversary of “Polytechnio”, in 1974, she put in her bag the family film camera Standard 8 and went. The students’ rebellion against the junta – marked by the tank entering the Athens Polytechnic university in the early morning of 17 November 1973 and the accompanied brutalities by the police in and around the Polytechnio building – was then, just a year after and with the democracy freshly reestablished, a symbol of the fight for freedom, collective and individual; the Polytechnio ground was a highly emotional place. My mama filmed a roll or two. These films became a part of our family films; they were to be found in between summer holidays and Christmas dinners.
In 2007, based on these bits of film I made the video with the title “The importance of flowers” which was shown in the exhibition “Words-no-Words” in The Hague. It was the time of our housing and studio space renting in soon-to-be-demolished blocks of buildings. My mama did see the exhibition and her part in it. We were together then, our names connected closely as always.
From now on silence.
Athina Kapnissi-Tsanti, 1932-2018