Routes in Marpissa
An experiental journey into tradition

Text: Pavlos Methenitis

Routes in Marpissa is a festival with a difference, held with the active support of the residents of the beautiful Parian village, who lend a hand in planning the events, turn their homes into visitor-accessible festival spaces, cook and otherwise contribute to the delicious treats offered at the traditional feast.

We meet one of the organisers, who asks us not to mention her name as Marpissa experiential festival is a collective project. The concept of experientialism is all about living the Parian tradition as it is conveyed through a novel aesthetic perspective. “We don’t want to stagnate into a lifeless museum display,” she says.

The core volunteer group that launched the first festival in Marpissa in 2010 was made up of 25 native and honorary Parians from various trades – architects, graphic designers, photographers, and educators – who joined their forces to create a cultural event tailor-made for marvelous Marpissa around some central themes: folklore, architecture, music and visual arts.

The team put together a number of activities aimed at children and adults alike. “They’re based on both workshops and games, and they involve narrative as well as hands-on skill building: there are workshops teaching, say, how to craft musical instruments from recycled materials. The team carried out bioclimatic research into local homes, drew up a map of Marpissa and conducted a genealogical study.” It is more than evident that the festival lies at the other end of the mainstream festival and mass tourism spectrum, where visitors are invited to watch, but not to interact.
“In the summer”, she tells us, “over eighty volunteers participate, while, all year round, local villagers help our team in doing research and collecting folklore and architecture-related material for our archive. What we aim at with Routes in Marpissa is participation, action and interaction for everybody – volunteers, residents, visitors, professionals, sponsors and local agencies. We’ve been collaborating with the Marpissa Women’s Association since the festival kicked off, while the Association’s premises can be accessed by festival goers.

“We can do without peak-season tourism; we want visitors to come over for us, to get a fresh insight into our heritage. There are people who come to Paros from across the world just to attend the festival – they even change their tickets for its sake.
The Routes start out from the traditional settlement of Marpissa and meander around terraces, churches and squares. In 2013 there were five main thematic stopovers. At the smell-themed stopover, for instance, visitors would step into a house with their eyes closed, where they would be asked to recognize the odors of oregano, souma (grape-distilled spirit), laurel or myrtle.
She is not willing to reveal the organizers’ plans for this year’s, the sixth, festival, running from Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 August. We should expect it to conclude, as we are told, with an admission-free traditional island music concert, and be held with the support of South Aegean Regional Council and the Municipality of Paros.

More information HERE.

June 2015