peritropes in the peleponnese

97FC7A7A-7FA6-410F-9C08-AEFF64813C9ACFCC3D20-CC45-4528-B878-17A291D292C3The suspended cones of Voula Gounela’s installation in an upper room of the fortified hill fort, rotate gently in the slight breeze. It’s 33 degrees, a hot June day in the ‘old town’ of Kardamyli in the Mani, South Peleponnese, and the sound of cicadas surges over the battlements as we explore the clustered masonry buildings of this recently restored heritage site. Gounela’s title “peritropes” means ‘turning around’ or ‘revolution’ in Ancient Greek. In Hellenistic Greek it meant turning an opponent’s arguments against himself or herself. The cones are of three materials, aluminium, thick paper and glazed ceramic. The thick paper appears to be imprinted from the inscribed outer surface of the aluminium. The curved aluminium surface seems to attract and reflect the little light in the room. You feel the weight of the dark glazed clay cones. One of these has made contact with the floor, like the seabed, as the others, fish-like, turn and shimmer in the gloom.

The renovation and fitout of these buildings cost £1.5 million Euros, mostly EU funded. The restoration has mostly been done with care, though use of cement mortar rather than lime in places is surprising. A permanent exhibition tells the story of the settlement’s history, and illustrates other structures such as small stepped quarries, olive presses and water cisterns that were an integral part of surviving in this challenging landscape.

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