Kostis Velonis

Visiting Fellow, Fall 2018

Research Project
A metaphor of escape: Greek Robinsons in the Mediterranean

Kostis Velonis holds an MRes in Humanities and Cultural Studies from London Consortium (Birkbeck College, ICA, AA, Tate). He studied Arts Plastiques/ Esthétiques at Université Paris 8 (D.E.A). He earned his PhD from the Department of Architecture, N.T.U.A University of Athens. Velonis has lectured on the subject of domesticity in relation to avant-garde movements in the School of Architecture at the University of Thessaly and at the Athens School of Fine Arts. His sculptures, paintings, and large-scale installations are best characterized as craft-based compositions that construct allegories from the complex relations of history,class,identity, and the conflicts of human soul.

About the Research Project
A metaphor of escape: Greek Robinsons in the Mediterranean

My research deals with the question of identity formation through the narrative of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe(1717) and its course in time until today. I will focus on Robinson’s influence on Greek literature and education since translations and adaptations of the fictional life of the hermit castaway were officially used by the Greek Ministry of Education throughout the 19thcentury. I want to examine the ways in which Robinson’s acceptance in the Greek society contributes in widening the limits of Hellenism, as well as the conditions under which the hermit castaway that finds himself away from his home country experiences homelessness. Could we argue that the “Robinsonades”, namely all those fictional narratives inspired by Robinson Crusoe, reflect the influence of the shipwreck in the collective imaginary as a universal metaphor of existence? Insofar as the dramatic descriptions of Robinson’s shipwreck convey in a direct way the experience of a radical geographical displacement, could we deal with the question of Hellenism in terms of flexible geographical mobility and ontological homelessness? The material results of my research will allow me to approach the experience of shipwreck through sculpture in the expanded field.