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In Papaioannou's 'Ink,' duet turns into duel in flooded universe

May 10, 2023 - 17:40 By Hwang Dong-hee
A scene from Dimitris Papaioannou's "Ink" (Courtesy of Julian Mommert)

Greek contemporary theater director Dimitris Papaioannou is scheduled to premiere his latest project “Ink” in Asia at the National Theater of Korea’s Daloreum Theater from Friday to Sunday.

Premiered at the Torinodanza Festival in Italy in September 2020, "Ink," a two-person performance, embarked on a world tour in January with some modifications and enhancements, and new music by Greek composer Kornilios Selamsis.

Papaioannou, who describes the performance as one about a hunter, a father and human desires, will take part in the shows on Friday and Saturday as the “dressed man” while German dancer Suka Horn will perform as the “nude man.”

Recognized for his monumental directing of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics, the award-winning and critically acclaimed director is also a choreographer and visual artist who has explored innovative approaches to theater for some 30 years.

Dimitris Papaioannou at the National Theater of Korea (Courtesy of Julian Mommert)

Introducing his work as somewhere “between theater, dance and performing arts,” Papaioannou said he did not start with any preset narratives, and only began shaping the story during a rehearsal.

“I only knew I wanted to do something with myself and Suka,” he said during a press conference held at NTOK on Tuesday.

“And I knew I would like to try this jet of water (that I have been experimenting with for my previous shows) … We entered the studio and started playing with no narratives or story in mind, without knowing what we were going to do.”

The performance begins on a stage with rivulets of water coming down like rain. In the dark, flooded universe, a guardian tries to maintain order but his equilibrium is interrupted by a visitor. The duo slides into a duel, or perhaps a game of hide-and-seek, in a nightmarish atmosphere. The precarious tension is expressed through symbolic scenes that allude to myths, paintings and movies.

A scene from Dimitris Papaioannou's "Ink" (Courtesy of Julian Mommert)
A scene from Dimitris Papaioannou's "Ink" (Courtesy of Julian Mommert)

“(Using water) came naturally to me. … I like the way that it dissolves and transforms everything that is on stage with its presence,” said Papaioannou.

“I found that wet clothes reflect light as plastic does. … I also discovered that you hold water on a round plastic bowl and release it, the way that it comes out resembles the shape of our galaxies. These types of things interest me very much.”

But Papaioannou was careful not to judge or analyze his own work.

“My work is to do and it is other people’s work to analyze what I do,” he said.

“I believe it’s better for the audience not to be afraid of not understanding. … Why should we definitely know what we are about to understand in a performing art?”