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ODYSSEIA

Journeys: An exhibition Inspired by the Odyssey

Michiko Okaya, Curator
Williams Center for the Arts, 1999


For 2,700 yeas Homer's Odyssey has spoken to us of the human spirit and of human frailty. It has passed from one generation to the next, first sung by storytellers, later transcribed into written language. The text has been interpreted and translated, and reinterpreted and retranslated over the centuries. It survives as a story of wondrous adventures and as a vehicle of metaphor for the innumerable journeys that define any life.

Most of all, as Odysseus has become part of all that he has met, all that he has met has become a part of us. The lessons of the Odyssey are so ingrained in Western thought, that its influence has become transparent to us.

 
Terezakis 1998

For Peter Terezakis, a New York-based artist, Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey came to him as they came to us through time. The poems were first spoken to him as bedtime stories of adventure related by his father, a Greek Orthodox priest. Terezakis came to the text later. As the artist himself travels through life experiencing love and loss, as well a the complexities of the quotidian, he finds that Odysseus' choices reveal even more profound truths, as well as a framework for examining one's life.

Here Terezakis exhibits one of his series of Othiporoi (Othipori) g literally, pilgrims or travelers g sentinels constructed from PVC pipes and painted in bright reds and yellows, as though to give warning. His othiporoi contain passages of the Odyssey recorded on silicon chip; powered by solar collector, they broadcast their messages at timed intervals.

He has left small versions of his wayfarers in various locations; one at his father's grave calls out all the words he knew for father. Starting in the spring of 1998 he has placed othiporoi in Greecehon Delos, Therassia, Piraeus, in Athens and even floating between some of the islands. Although theirs is a singular voice, the repetition of the message---about every six or seven minutes----suggests a classical chorus.

But the Othiporoi also suggest small voices from the wilderness, waiting for us o be still enough to hear their messages, and to be ready to receive them. Terezakis observes that it is only when Odysseus has been battered by life and loses strength, that he truly gains the wisdom to be a more just ruler, and a better husband, and father. The Othiporoi (1999) created for this exhibition acknowledges that this is a difficult lesson for the young and untested to accept, but an important one to hear. An excerpt of this radio wave transmitted message:

Terezakis 1998
Of all that breathes and crawls the earth,
our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.
So long as the gods grant him his power, spring in his knees,
he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.
But then, when the happy gods bring on the long hard times,
bear them he must, against his will, and steel his heart.
Terezakis 1998

J.M. Welker,
October, 1999

The Exhibition was funded, in part, by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michiko Okaya, Curator
Williams Center for the Arts
Lafayette College
Easton, Pennsylvania

  Terezakis 1998

Click for Video Part One
 
Click for Video Part Two

Terezakis 1998
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