The Evzones Collection goes to Athens in world-first exhibition

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For the first time, an exhibition of photographs of the legendary Evzones – Greece’s Presidential Guard – taken by a Greek from the diaspora will be put on display at the War Museum in Athens.

The Evzones Collection, comprising a series of photographs taken by Nick Bourdaniotis, a renown Greek Australian photographer based in Sydney, Australia, will open at the Athens War Museum on March 20, 2023 and will remain on exhibition until March 31 as part of Greece’s ongoing celebrations of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

The exhibition will be held under the patronage of Her Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

The Evzones:

The Evzones are best known for their ceremonial work in guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament in Athens, and the Presidential Palace. The Presidential Guard is also the only military unit authorised to raise and lower the Greek flag each day on the Acropolis. 

The Evzones were elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army that fought during the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans and embody the essence of bravery and resistance.

In 2021, the Hellenic President proudly declared that the Evzones are the custodians of our collective memory.

She said: “The Evzones connect the past with the present and our future. Our heritage, with our dynamic course, towards tomorrow. They are a living reminder of the values we have fought for and defended in every phase of our national path: the values of freedom, democracy, and our national sovereignty.”

Nick Bourdaniotis first encountered the Evzones when a detachment of the Presidential Guard came to Sydney in 2016 to participate in the ANZAC Day commemoration. His photographic sojourn with the Evzones continued both in Athens and again in Australia when members of the Presidential Guard returned to Melbourne and Adelaide.

Bourdaniotis was granted rare, behind-the-scenes access into the daily lives of the Evzones for historical, archival, media and television purposes over seven years and has put together an oeuvre of work meticulously photographing the Evzones. 

The result is that this photo exhibition, which opened for the first time in Sydney in February 2021 under the auspices of Archbishop Makarios of Australia, has travelled throughout Australia to much acclaim, including the National Museum in Canberra and the Maritime Museum in Sydney.

His exhibition has also been endorsed by the Greek Presidential Guard and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

Photographing the Evzones:

The famous Swiss-American photographer, Robert Frank, wrote that: “there is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”

Bourdaniotis’ gaze upon the Evzones is full of humanity as the faces of the Presidential Guard are immortalised on canvas. 

For the photographer, this is only natural: “The Evzones are the heart and soul of Greece.”

Nick Bourdaniotis.

Bourdaniotis has intuitive photographic skills. To Nick, each photograph is an artistic creation using a digital brush and enhanced by an impeccable sense of timing to capture the moment. His photos of the Evzones marching over the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis or approaching the Parthenon encapsulate the unconquerable spirit of Hellenism embodied in the history and traditions of the Presidential Guard.

The aesthetic sensibilities of the Evzones, whether it be their stylised movements in the changing of the guard or their standing at full attention, completely motionless, are brilliantly captured by Nick’s photographic lens. 

The Evzones Collection shows the elite Presidential Guard in a truly remarkable light.

The Athens War Museum:

The Athens War Museum is also a natural setting for the exhibition.  

It was inaugurated in July 1975 to facilitate the collection, preservation and exhibition of war relics, as well as the documentation and promotion of the struggles of the Greek nation over the ages. It is the largest museum of military history in Greece, and its collections include historical, photographic and cinematographic archives.

The Evzones Collection will be on display in the ground floor foyer and will immediately greet and impress visitors to the museum.

Bourdaniotis’ photographs of the Evzones will be compulsory viewing.

Exhibition director Mr George Karantonis and exhibition curator Ms Eirini Alligiannis will also travel to Athens to participate in this historical event, showcasing Greece’s favourite sons.

The primary sponsors of the exhibition at the Athens War Museum are the Kalymnian Association of NSW, the Kytherian Association of Australia, the Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust, The Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra and District Inc., St Basil’s NSW/ACT. Significant contributors are the Athens War Museum, Greek City Times, Image Smart and the Hellenic Club Sydney.

Photos: Copyright Nick Bourdaniotis / Bourdo Photography

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