States of the Arts


The Runner

by Costas Varotsos
Public art, sculpture

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Roughly thirty foot tall, its two feet planted firmly on the ground, The Runner is caught mid-sprint in the centre of Athens. Constructed from iron and glass, its jagged shards tear through the air surrounding it. Seen from either side, the sharp, translucent sheets appear to drag behind the body, as if photographed in motion. From behind, we see an athlete racing ahead into pole position. Although seemingly frozen in time as the city shifts around it, the monument has not been entirely motionless. Rattled by wind and endangered by impending construction work, it was removed from its original home in Omonia Square and installed outside the Hilton Athens Hotel.

Words by John Wadsworth

The Lobster

directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Feature film

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After his wife of eleven years and one month leaves him, David packs his bags and heads for a hotel. A stilted narration accompanies his journey, offering clinical facts but little insight: ‘His back hurt a little,’ the voiceover informs us, ‘but not like some other times in the past when the pain was intolerable.’ Like all of the guests, David has forty-five days to find a new mate. One catch is that the pair must have something in common: a limp, a lisp, near-sightedness. The other is that those who fail are turned into animals. In this world, the desire for a stable relationship and a nuclear family is driven not by love, but by escalating desperation.

Words by John Wadsworth

Exercises for Weight Loss in No Time at All

by Kiki Dimoula

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Kiki Dimoula’s exercise routine involves neither dieting nor strenuous activity. Its series of steps begins with a simple command: ‘Lie down.’ Most of the measures that follow are far less tangible. In order to shed pounds, the poet suggests, you should ‘compress your bad habits / into one rigid line’. You should never be afraid, as fear ‘contains hunger’. You should keep your eyes closed to shut out any ‘lollipops of light’. In the penultimate stanza, readers are encouraged to free themselves from the weight of the waking world, to slide into sleep while listening to the narrator’s soothing lullaby.

Words by John Wadsworth

Switch Off the Light

by Stelios Kazantzidis and Marinella

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A bouzouki churns out a staccato tune, the lute-like instrument striking a strident tone. Two firm snaps of the strings conclude the plucked prologue, inviting the smooth voice of Stelios Kazantzidis to enter. Rhythmically, his vocals match the march of the ensuing accompaniment, but his delivery is far freer. His syllables are softly sung, occasionally embellished with vibrato. After the swerving final note of his solo, Kazantzidis is joined by his partner, Marinella, for a series of harmonised exclamations: ‘Opa! Opa!’ The time has come for the lights to dim. We can only oblige, as side one of the duo’s debut LP winds to a close.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

The Runner: Stella Sevastopoulos has interviewed Costas Varotsos for Insider.

The Lobster: Watch the trailer here. Hans Morgenstern has interviewed Yorgos Lanthimos for the Miami New Times, as has Erik McClanahan for Oregon ArtsWatch.

Exercises for Weight Loss in No Time at All: Read the poem on the World Literature Today website. You can find further poems by Kiki Dimoula here. Rachel Donadio has interviewed the poet for the New York Times.

Switch Off the Light: Listen to a solo version of the song by Marinella here.

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