puerto rico

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A project by Alexis Fidetzis, Panos Sklavenitis and Kostis Stafylakis.
In the context of Athens Biennale 2016-2017.

Participants:
Michaelaggelos Vlassis-Ziakas, Bulerinas (Eva Karterou, Christina Karababa, Seda Karayilan, Vicky Skordali), Eva Yiannakopoulou, Anastasis Grivas, Maria Hacka, The Flower Girls (Eleftheria Kotzaki, Christina Spanou, Dimitra Stamatopoulou), Digenis Daskalakis-Giontis, Dimitra Kondylatou, Rafaella Koni, Aggelos Kralis, Apostolos Lambropoulos, Derek Liddington, Rilène Μarkopoulou, Persefoni Myrtsou, Dimitris Papoutsakis, Panayis Panagiotopoulos, Martha Papadogianni, Danae Sklavou
Chupacabra sets: Tassos Papatsoris & Despina Foskolou
DJ: Thano Vessi

On the evening of 28th May 2016, the passerby at Varvakios Market Place, the central
market of Athens, encountered a rather unexpected spectacle. The facade of one of the
houses belonging to the municipal police of Athens was altered: the place was decorated
with Greek and Puertorican flags while big banners advertized the Nick Boricua Museum
of Athens. People invited by the Athens Biennial, people following the event’s social
media campaign, confused passerby gathered on the square waiting for the opening.
As soon as the artistic director of the Athens biennial arrived he was invited to cut the
red ribbon and invite everyone inside the museum. The first item the audience encountered
was a large construction of a flag reminiscent of both the flag of the “Grito de
Lares” Puertorican uprising and the first flag of Greece’s War for National Independence.
According to the story written on the museum’s walls, this hybrid symbol of transnational
revolt was first conceived by Nick Boricua in order to signify the “Puerto Grico” movement
– his vision of a transantlantic national upheaval of peoples against empires. Inside
the museum, the three artists/organizers of the Puerto Rico project waited underneath
and oversized painted portrait of Nick Boricua. One of them welcomed everyone to the
opening and offered an introductory speech to the life and times of Nikias Fokas (Nick
Boricua). In his speech, the artistic director emphasized the timely meaning of Boricua’s
lesson. His vision of a simultaneous and combined revolt against empires was spelled a
long time before Trotsky or even Antonio Negri. Indeed, Nikias Fokas was born on the
island of Ithaca, travelled to the Peloponnese and supported the insurrection of Morea
leading to the Greek Revolution, took part in the cabinet of Ioannis Kapodistrias (the
first Prime Minister of Greece), was disenchanted with the authoritarian politics of King
Otto, travelled to Spain as an ambassador of Greece, was adopted by the Spanish Court,
was sent to the colony of Puerto Rico as Administrator of Dorado, fell in love with the
natives and sided with the anti-colonial struggle. The natives called him Nick Boricua.
Nick Boricua is the symbol of both a revolutionary cosmopolitanism and a revolutionary
insularity that can be emblematic of today’s transnational impulse for insurrection.
After the director’s speech, various institutions heralded the Museum’s opening. Maria
Maragou, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete, had sent a salutation
read by the three artists. Maragou recalled how Nick Boricua was a myth of her youth,
a rumor inside the student rooms of young revolutionaries, neglected by official history
only to be recently discovered and exploited by a “left-neoliberal government.” The opening
continued with the diction of a demotic poem from Morea dedicated to the life and
story of Nikias Fokas. Representatives of academia also offered wonderful salutations.
Panayis Panagiotopoulos, sociologist and lecturer at the University of Athens, presented
his research on Nick Boricua. He held that since, for some reason, the story of Boricua
has seized being a taboo he is ready to reveal evidence on the existence of descendents of
Boricua’s strain: a very rich woman involved in philanthropies in support of the crisis’s
poor. Professor Apostolos Lampropoulos, University of Bordeaux, presented recent discoveries
on the correspondence between Nick Boricua and Mariana Bracetti, a revolutionary
figure and Boricua’s secret love affair.

Visit the Nick Boricua Museum website here

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