Penelopey is a collaborative project, presented by the Greek Presidency's Office to celebrate the poetics of life as they are looked, lived and registered by women through their artistic vocabularies. It includes three phases: an online exhibition where each one out of 15 Greek women artists invites another woman from each of the 15 current EU member countries to a discourse and a journey, physical, mental, or virtual. The purpose of this journey is for participants to share common venues and values and to discover the differences or similarities of their cultures on contemporary world issues. The second phase will include other cultural parallel events to be hosted and announced by the current member countries of the European Union. Eventually, the outcome of these journeys will be followed by exhibition venues in Washington D.C., New York and in Athens 2004 Olympiad that will be announced periodically.
Odyssey is Homer's epic poem dedicated to Odysseus' heroic return to his homeland. Odyssey is not only part of Greece's cultural heritage, but is also part of the humankind's history. It remains until today in the focal interest of a worldwide readership and research in the arts and sciences. The protagonist, Odysseus, is still used as the paradigm of might and heroism, endurance, determination and resourcefulness.
Penelope on the other hand, followed a parallel route with her husband, a route of struggles with ingenious and creative skills, willpower, resistance and tenacity, to maintain her sanity and her kingdom. Despite the fact that Penelope’s challenges, unlike Odysseus’, were physically limited to the confines of her palace, she nonetheless was on her own against all odds, including her son's advice to quit. Her own journey of heroism though, has not been as such, but rather it has become a paradigm of patience and faithfulness to her beloved husband and therefore, not worth writing an epic by itself.
The concept of this exhibition supports the thesis that human struggles are not only measured in terms of expended physical exertion, but may also be the battles within oneself. Acts of heroism can be described as actions that help us maintain the basic rights of human existence and individualism. Time and space do not matter as much as the journey-struggle, itself. Therefore, neither Homer in Odyssey, or Cavafy in Ithaca, focus on the final destination, but rather on the experience and wisdom that the journey offers.
Penelopey is the poem dedicated to Penelope, or to any woman who makes real-life’s struggle, a heroic journey. The voyage becomes an epos about the experience and the wisdom that she gains from it. The Other Journey incorporates issues whose themes constellate around the opposing dimensions of the homonyms roots/routes along with travel, maps and mapping, borders and border crossing. Roots imply the state of locality and familiarity, while routes imply movement, travel, and displacement that also involve encounter with difference.
The proposed exhibition will record this intercultural contact through experiential narrative and in dialectical relation to the roots and routes of the travelers, looking into the following goals:
a. To acknowledge women’s contributions to life’s realities. Their narratives will include their own experiences and Logos, expressed visually and/or verbally. Logos represents the dynamics of expression in critical dialectic and discourse, a viewpoint on issues that women and men have to deal with, in their daily lives.
b. To unfold the strategies that the artists develop when approaching or keeping a distance from the “Other” in order to deal with issues such as xenia, xenophobia, migration, dislocation, conflict, gender and ethnic stereotypes.
c. To become familiar with the unknown. The distant and foreign often create humanly constructed stereotypes, which artists will explore in order to understand and respect the differences of the Other. Their journeys will allow a process of exchange and a search for common ground leading to peaceful symbiosis.
Description: Fifteen Greek women artists whose oeuvre conforms to internationally shared artistic vocabularies have been invited to participate in a journey that will start online. It will develop with the participation of a co-traveler, invited by the artist, in order to share with her the experiences and wisdom of the journey, within the framework of the thesis of the exhibition. The other woman can originate from any discipline and from each current EU member-country.
The journey will take place either physically, mentally or virtually and will culminate into an artwork that will be eventually shown at an exhibition in Washington, New York and in Athens for the 2004 Olympiad. Respective EU Embassies in Athens and Washington will be kindly requested to support the efforts of locating the other traveler from their country, the implementation of the journey and the hosting of parallel events in their Embassies/countries.
Each journey will start with the opening of a dialogue on the Internet and will be recorded on a separate web page. There will be stations in places where parts of the journey could be presented to interested audiences. There will not be a final destination, which matters little in this case, since Penelopey along with Odyssey unfold the trajectory of an ongoing journey of the human species on earth.
The names of the artists match the names of the current EU member-countries in the following alphabetical order: