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Black Leg, 2017

Audio Video Dance Performance


Throughout history, the majority of the scientific community seemed reluctant to accept or even to discuss new ideas simply because they were unable to explain the natural world within the boundaries of their limited understanding. In the field of transplantation, an uncharted and controversial territory has opened as a result of a concept known as cellular memory. What is cellular memory, particularly in relation to the technology of transplantation? And is cellular memory in fact a valid concept that deserves further investigation? ​ The visual and video artist Pantelis Makkas invites for his new performance “Black leg” mezzo soprano Anna Pangalou, dancer- choreographer Mariela Nestora and actor- performer Nestor Kopsida to study and reconstruct on stage the painting A Verger's Dream, which is based on the description found in a book of 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (The golden legend). The painting depicts the story of a verger living in the church of Cosmas and Damian in Rome suffering from a disease which is eating away the flesh of his leg. One night the verger had this vision in which the two saints came and cut off his suffering limb replacing it with the leg of a dead African (Ethiopian) who had just been buried in a nearby churchyard. When he awoke, the verger found that he had a healthy black leg while it was discovered that the African's body now lacked a limb. ​ Fascination with transplantation can be traced back to myths and legends and it has been rendered in various art forms. The oldest depiction that I have been able to find is a 15th century religious painting showing saints Cosmas and Damian transplanting a black leg onto a white body assisted by angels. Saints Cosmas and Damian were early Christian martyrs who, according to legend, practiced medicine without payment and therefore represent the medical ideal. In this Spanish altarpiece, the saints appear in a vision, dressed in the full finery of academic doctors as they perform the miracle of transplanting a leg. Eventually Cosmas and Damian were executed during the Diocletian Persecution. Diocletian came from Croatia. Of lowly birth he climbed the ranks of the Roman army to be crowned emperor in 384 AD. Diocletian was a fervent believer in the Roman Pantheon and saw the growing Christian movement as a threat. He forbade Christians from gathering to worship and attempted to force them to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. Those who refused faced terrible consequences. Nowadays organ transplantation is a common procedure. Since late 1960s they started the first successful operations and at the moment we can speak about very positive results. There are some people like Sylvia Claire, who they claimed to have memories from their donors organs. Gary Schwartz, a professor of medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the university of Arizona, has documented 70 cases where he believes transplant recipients have inherited the traits of their donors. Professor Schwartz said: “When the organ is placed in the recipient, the information and energy stored in the organ is passed on to the recipient. The theory applies to any organ that has cells that are interconnected. They could be kidneys, liver or even muscles.”

Concept, research, live video, performance: Pantelis Makkas | Singing, voice and singing composition, performance: Anna Pangalou | Dance, choreography, performance: Mariela Nestora | Voice, music supervision, performance: Nestor Kopsidas | Costumes, costume supervision: Eleutheria Arapoglou 

Athens Video Dance 

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Photos by Alex Kat, Video by PMStudio

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