Twenty-five years after the death of photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (1899-1998), known as Nelly’s, the Benaki Museum, custodian of her precious work since 1984, pays tribute and with a strong sense of responsibility, organizes a retrospective exhibition entitled “Nelly’s”, reintroducing the creator to the public of today.
The exhibition, presented at the Benaki Museum / Pireos 138, opened to the public on Thursday, February 23, 2023 and will run until Sunday, July 23, 2023.
The presentation of Nellie’s multidimensional work is attempted with axes on the three cities which shaped her photographic gaze: Dresden, Athens, New York. With almost 350 photographs generated by the creator herself and selected from her voluminous archive, an effort is made to represent the different aesthetic trends she adopted during her forty-five years of involvement with the medium and the numerous black and white and color photography techniques with which she experimented. These original works are complemented by about 150 contemporary digital prints made by her negatives to fill in the narrative gaps. The photographic equipment she used as a student in Dresden but mainly as a professional photographer in Athens during the interwar period and in New York after the war, is exhibited in order to document her deep knowledge on photographic technology. There are also two films digitized from the material kept in her archive, indicative of her first experimentation with film-making. Finally, the archival material she collected, such as magazine covers of her time, posters and letter cards, contributes to the understanding of the use of her photographs during her time.
The narrative of the exhibition starts from her studies in Dresden (1920-1923) and presents samples from her studies in portraiture and photography of dance and nudity. This was followed by her arrival in Athens and her dynamic presence in the photographic events of the city from 1924 to 1939. The division of her work into sections, reflects the rich range of topics that interested her lens during her stay in Greece. Images already known from their multiple publications in the past are supplemented with new, unknown until today, highlighting the different perspective that she introduced to the domestic photographic production of the interwar period and which formed the basis on which post-war Greek photography would evolve. The third and final section is dedicated to her work in New York City from 1939 to 1966. This is the least known part of her work, despite the fact that she lived and worked there for twenty-seven years. It was when, at the age of forty, she decided to leave her successful business in the Athenian capital and try the unknown to her, space of American photography.
The exhibition concludes with a short presentation of her paintings in porcelain, an activity she developed alongside her photographic career during her stay in America. Finally, the visitor of the exhibition has the opportunity to watch one of the last interviews that Nelly gave to the director Giorgos Sgourakis in 1994 for the show MONOGRAM.
The retrospective presentation of Nellie’s work was made possible thanks to the generous contribution of Aris Theodoridis, who always strongly supports the activities of the Benaki Museum, and the contribution of the John S. Fafalios Foundation, Andreas and Alexandra Voureka-Petala, Alexandros Malaspinas and his family, Maria Gaitanou Embiricos, the Association “Friends of the Benaki Museum”, the George & Aristeas Mamidakis Foundation and Blue gr Hotels & Resorts, Dimitris Tsitouras, as well as the Foundation’s constant collaborators. It was curated by Aliki Tsirgialou, Head of the Photographic Archives of the Benaki Museum, and designed by Natalia Boura, architect and Head of the Museum’s Archives of Modern Greek Architecture.
The accompanying Nelly’s catalog, the work of photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (1899-1998), is published in a catalog designed by Erifili Arapoglou-En Arte, by the Benaki Museum thanks to the exclusive sponsorship of the George & Victoria Karelia Foundation.
During the exhibition there will be guided tours and educational programs, as well as a workshop dedicated to the great creator. The organization of the retrospective exhibition of Nelly and the accompanying edition coincide with the fifty years of operation of the Photographic Archives of the Benaki Museum and are dedicated to Emilia Geroulanou and the late Angelos Delivorias.