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Chiara Ambrosio: Monochords

Monochords is a suite of linocuts by London-based Italian filmmaker and visual artist Chiara Ambrosio, in response to Yannis Ritsos’ collection of one-line poems by the same title. 

Yannis Ritsos, a Greek poet, communist, and active member of the Greek Resistance during World War II, composed the 336 Monochords in August of 1979, in the space of one month, following the end of one of his many political exiles on the island of Samos. Each line is a poignant and essential observation of an instant in time, at once ephemeral and resonant; the resulting collection of poems reads as a personal archive of time past, present and future, offering, in the poet’s own words, keys to his own poetic sensibility.  

Chiara Ambrosio had been carrying a copy of the Monochords with her for over a decade; a compass, a torch and indeed a key, offering inspiration, direction and companionship as she developed her own poetic vision. One day in 2020, as the pandemic began to spiral out of control, she turned to the book once more and felt compelled to make images in response to the monochords: not illustrations, nor translations, more of an experiment in entering the space opened up by the poem, and seeing what would resonate and emerge from there; how that exploration could be rendered in line and shape-like going fishing at night in the sea of Ritsos’ words, a daily ritual, that accompanied the artist along a strange year of exile from life. 


Viewing will be open by appointment only during Hellenic Centre opening hours. Please call 020 7487 5060 or email to book a slot.

A limited edition print by Chiara Ambrosio will be available for sale throughout the exhibition. Please enquire at the Hellenic Centre.


Chiara Ambrosio is a London-based filmmaker and visual artist, working with moving image, photography, text, sound and printed matter to explore the ways in which we remember, articulate and preserve personal and collective histories and a sense of place. Her work pays witness to and portrays that which struggles on the fringes of dominant narratives – communities, landscapes, stories, objects, perceptions, sensibilities – excluded and marginalised for a variety of different reasons but always fundamental to our understanding of what makes us human. Her work has been presented extensively both nationally and internationally at venues including the Whitechapel Gallery, Anthology Film Archives and La Cinémathèque Française.