THE CARNIVAL OF KASTORIA (THE RAGOUTSARIA)
The Carnival celebrations of Kastoria (The Ragoutsaria) date from the ancient times as they were part of the Dionysian orgiastic rites. They would take place in the middle of winter after the 25th of December - the celebration for the birth of the Sun - to honour Nature for regenerating Spring. The Ragoutsaria complete the twelve-day celebration with their unique regional customs of Kastoria which go back to the first inhabitants of the area, the Dorians. They are a remainder of the original Greek carnival festivities, something which is rather rare, and not part of the foreign Carnival celebrations on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of January.
All the residents of Kastoria, men and women, take part in the celebrations. From different neighbourhoods they form groups, each group with its own band, and celebrate in a frenzy - like atmosphere, regardless of their social status. The variety of music instruments is interesting as apart from the traditional ones, the bagpipes and the 'zournades', from the early 1900s the bands started having more percurssions - the 'takoumia' , and more wind instruments, remnant of the military bands that would occasionally stop by the city. The whole scene reminds us of the time when the big brass bands of New Orleans in the USA had created and established internationally jazz music.
Capturing that scene is definitely a challenge for every photographer. The intensity is framed in a documentary - like style in black and white photography. The toning, the sepia colouring, emphasizes the antiquity of the custom and its perennial descent. Finally the selective colour add-on on the wind instruments, in contrast to the neutral colours of a colour photograph, highlights the importance and the necessity of these instruments in order to accomplish the ambiance of the authentic Dionysian ecstatic rites. Like it or not, you feel overpowered by the whole scene, regardless of whether you are taking photos or you are being photographed.
Kostas Kitsos was born in Preveza in 1963 but grew up and has been living in Thessaloniki since 1980. He studied topography and engineering at the Polytechnic Department of the Aristotelian University and has been working in the Municipality of Kalamaria since 1992. He has attended several courses on photography and has worked as a photo-journalist. He is a member of the Hellenic Photographic society and of the Photographic Centre of Thessaloniki. Several of his works have appeared on the Internet. He has taught photography to several groups and is the editor of the photographic magazines "The Idol" and "Photo Net". He is also involved in literary writing. In 1997 he published his first book "Colourless World", by Patakis publications, a collection of photographs and short stories.
The Mines of Thassos
The City's Shadows
The Carnival of Kastoria (The Ragoutsaria)
The Statues' Melancholy (Paris 1999)
The Portrait in Black and White
Photographic Symposium (Skiathos 1997)
Photographic Society of Florina
At the turn of the Century
Cuba ( Club Milos 2000)
The March towards Fame