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1 post categorized "Exhibitions"

April 21, 2007

The Bride of Circumstance

Oh, to be a bride. The concept of being a bride changes from one era to the next, one society to another and between cultures. It’s what I thought when I visited Marrickville Town Hall yesterday to view A Bride’s Exhibit: A Tale of Brides Past, which documents the migration of women to Australia from Greece, women who were brides and the striking thing or commonality among all cases documented, is that many of these arranged or ‘by proxy’ marriages stayed the distance; divorce was Aggeliki unheard of during the various historically documented struggles. Even though poverty existed, especially after the Civil Wars, World Wars, Greek-Turkish wars, among other things, the importance of establishing a family via marriage remained a high priority and this priority was not related to romance, sexuality or sexual identity but more along the lines of maintaining cultural identity, which - on a lesser scale - maintained the identity of the individual.

The bridal stories on display at Marrickville Town Hall are often accompanied by photographs of the letters of introduction sent by potential grooms to their prospective father-in-law, detailing their interest, letters that don’t qualify as love letters. This didn’t unfold spontaneously. It relied on mediators or matchmakers. Such matchmakers weren’t paid to complete a task. Many were bystanders who saw an opportunity for a daughter, and voiced their suggestions to parents who sought a better future for their children.

There are many tales where the women, then girls, had their educations cut short due to limited finances, who tended the fields, and completed many manual tasks. Although Greece wasn’t a communist country during the eras documented (Forties, Fifties and Sixties), many families were like working collectives within villages, where all children worked for their family’s common good, particularly in rural areas or villages where people owned land.

This exhibition is inspired from Brides, the film directed by Pantelis Voulgaris that documents the voyage of 700 Brides (Greek and Russian) from the Mediterranean to America in 1922, after upheaval in Asia Minor, to meet their grooms, men that they have only met via a photograph.

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© Anastasia Mavromatis 2005 - 2008