an odyssey: July 1 – July 29

Exhibition: 1-29 juli
Opening: Sunday 1st of July  4-7  pm
A public participatory reading of Homer’s Odyssey –  sign up here! : July 14 in collaboration with the International Readers of HomerElliniko Theatre and the Genetic Choir!
Performance Interweave | Interfold – Aemilia Papaphilippou: 21st of July 6 pm

“an odyssey”: a story of relationships
by Aemilia Papaphilippou

From Greece to Amsterdam, from Homer onwards, every one of us tries to live life in a way that makes sense, in a way that makes it meaningful. Life after all is an ongoing adventure, if not a struggle, full of ordeals and hardships, indeed an odyssey of sorts; it unweaves only to reveal that the only meaning to be found is the one we form ourselves.
Poignantly, in Homer’s Odyssey, the goddess Calypso (who according to the etymology of her name conceals only to reveal), offers Odysseus an impossible deal: to either escape death and become immortal- if he decides to remain with her-, or accept it and die since it would be the price to pay if he decided to go home. Odysseus chooses, over immortality and staying with the beautiful Calypso, to go home… and by living and dying, dreaming and loving, create meaning to be sung in eternity.

From Nieuw Dakota, Giorgos Gripeos sets up a situation that expands well beyond the white cube walls of the space itself. The walls get overturned, abandoning their traditional usage; they are laid on the ground settling down as if from an explosion, to form a labyrinthine platform of sorts ready to receive all kinds of interventions and collaborations. Gripeos’ torso -a video projection of the breathing living visceral corpus of a man- can be found, not projected at a central position as one would expect, but hidden somewhere behind the labyrinthine morphology of the walls. It can be reached, only, if someone trusts to be guided by the breathing sound of its ephemerality…
Within the space, that feels sparse and introverted, an object is displayed upon the floor: a small model of what stands before us, a small model of reality, is set encapsulated within reality itself. This modelization of reality displayed within the reality that surrounds us feels as if a reverberation of sorts: as if a mirror is being placed parallel to another mirror, reflecting each other ad infinitum. On the upper level of the gallery, Gripeos sets the space “right”, with the simplest and meekest of interventions, in order to present the “Bed”. In light that feels pristine, coming subdued though the blinds that were installed by Gripeos himself, a large photograph, the size of a bed and placed parallel to the ground in the manner of a bed, seems, at first, to be the evening sky, overturned.
Yet, at closer inspection, the stars that seem to be sparkling, are revealed to be speckles of asphalt; a semi solid form of petroleum which deposits and forms deep underground, only to end up being minutest universes under our feet.

Two video diptychs presented at the side of the “Bed” -standing as if being a headboard and a footboard- connect the ports of Piraeus and Amsterdam as departure and arrival points in the life of Gripeos; signaling that all journeys are quests in Time where Time cannot be escaped. Furthermore, “Nostos”, the small clay house multiples, speak of the longing to belong…Meaning that this painful awareness of nostalgia (a word that derives from nostos), lies in the fact that the more you travel further away, the more you realize that what is past can never be revisited.

In addition to these, Gripeos has invited other people to generate actions upon his platform and collaborate in signaling further his quest.

On the 14th of July and at 12:00 noon, a 10-hour marathon participatory reading of Homer’s Odyssey, will take place on Gripeos’ platform at Nieuw Dakota and if one feels like participating can register here. Participants are invited to read a passage in any way or language they might like.

Organized by the International Reader’s of Homer and Elliniko Theatro, on Emily Wilson’s 2017 first ever -translation into English by a woman (WW. Norton & Co.) Homer’s Odyssey will be delivered out loud, in the long tradition where knowledge is transmitted orally. Orality, as a form of communication but also of structure and organization, if not governance, is further explored by the Genetic Choir group which will be generating, concurrently, improvised vocal polyphonic music composed through a synergetic manner.

As the Readers of Homer indicate “Odyssey was composed in the 8th century BCE and this epic tale of a hero’s star-crossed journey home from war is among the handful of stories we’ve used to understand ourselves. In the migratory conditions of our times, the poem’s themes of displacement and loss, yearning for home and the trials of separation, remain as powerful and relevant as ever.”

The project of the whole exhibition, including this event, is part of the Over Het IJ Festival. Nevertheless, this particular event, of the reading, will be live-streamed and communicated in the commuting ferry between Westerdokdijk (Pontsteiger) and the NDSM-werf, so as to be witnessed by the passengers of the ferry but also shared, live, via Facebook through the Nieuw Dakota account.

Furthermore, Gripeos invited Aemilia Papaphilippou, to support the exhibition on a curatorial level, but also participate by delivering one of her performances conducted in the tradition of Penelope the weaver. Papaphilippou invited Rainer Mack and Thomas Johannsen, of the International Readers of Homer and the Genetic Choir Ensemble respectively, to join her on this curatorial level by delivering and communicating further the awareness of synergy and connectivity, which they all share in common.

Papaphilippou weaves Space and Time, people and disparate information, and though her 1992 ideogram of “Chess Continuum” -where the whole chessboard is designed with one single line- she reintroduces the binary as a nexus in an attempt to indicate that all culture is an open system; a weaving (and unweaving) process, a collective net consciousness being continuously weaved in tandem. What might be taking place, according to the self-organizing principle introduced by Prigogine, is the formation of “dissipative structures”, which can be described as paradoxes of simultaneous structure but also of dispersal and chaos, rendering them constantly in flux.

Papaphilippou has launched an open call, mainly via her Facebook account, gathering contributions of texts, images, or sounds, to be interweaved while at the same time people will be connected, interweaved together with strings, that will allow them to have a tangible feeling of each other. (July 21st at 6:00) Emily Wilson will be participating in the performance and Efthimis Theodossis, a.k.a Bill Anagnos, will be collaborating in the sound and the editing.

Nieuw Dakota has displayed a truly remarkable synchronization and support of Gripeos’s journey, although it was quite difficult to conceptualize from the beginning what was eventually going to happen, or expect to know the technical difficulties involved. It would perhaps be enough to say Nieuw Dakota went to the point of cutting their entrance door in order to allow the enormous walls enter the gallery! Let us also mention and sincerely thank- not by name simply because I do not know them all, but truly from the heart- the technicians and friends who helped Gripeos accomplish this enormous installation in situ.

At the end of the day we are all on the same boat… or planet I should have said. The fabric of Life weaves itself, and -although we will not avoid reaching the end of our line- Life makes sense if we dare dream and love!

Basically, with “an odyssey” Gripeos calls us, in his own words, to the following awareness, which he has named “Meyouthemus”, Me You Them Us:

I believe that every material (be it an object, a place or a concept) has a consciousness; not necessarily a soul or a spirit, like ours, but an awareness of itself, with a particular size, shape and density, with its own history. Together we build a relationship, we adapt to one another, take on each other’s attributes and characteristics, permitting things to gather and form rather than imposing an order. This way, the work becomes a meeting place; a place where object and subject are treated with the same respect, unfolding a network of meanings and associations, celebrating \

the visitors themselves, giving them the most important role so that they can participate and complete the work.

Diptych: left image Giorgos Gripeos ‘an odyssey’ (installation in the making), 2018, © Giorgos Gripeos
right image Aemilia Papaphilippou ‘Chess Continuum’ ideogram, 1992, © Aemilia Papaphilippou

Rainer Mack, artistic director of the International Readers of Homer and Thomas Johannsen, artistic leader of  the Genetic Choir Ensemble, both wrote a curatorial text. Read them here:

Download (PDF, 700KB)


Download (PDF, 704KB)

an odyssey is kindly supported by the  Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and the Mondriaan Fonds and a collaboration with Over ‘t IJ Festival