Wednesday, July 18, 2007

At the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

It has generally been assumed that historical monuments are best understood as touristic attractions , but in fact they have served as a laboratory for new art forms and styles . As feelings are not independent from their architectural context, they are intimately linked with their “place” of appearance.

Here I will mention my installation for Herodeion that I realized for the grand promenade last year commissioned by National museum of modern art in Athens. I recall this work in my memory because of a recent concert of Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint. Their figures reminds me the folk concept that I developed in this exhibition. Here is the story. That the Herodeion stands on the lower slopes of the Acropolis is down to a love story. On the Untimely death of his wife, Aspasia Regilla, Herodes Atticus fell into such profound mourning that he had his house painted black. The overpowering nature of his love drove him to honour her memory by building the “Odeon of Regilla”. Later renamed the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, it was repaired in the twentieth century for use as a venue for musical and theatrical performances during the summer months. I know from the accounts of older friends, but also from a certain amount of fragmentary personal experience , that until recently, a small portion of the audience could enjoy the performances from behind the see-through boundaries at the point where the hollow meets the hill. Here, invisible to most of the audience, I can ponder ambitions and day dream of imaginary relationships. When making a model of the Herodeion, I put two Lilliputian seats at the edge of the final tier along with a badly-made metal heart stuck on with veneer that illuminates the construction in dramatic fashion. The surrounding space is filled with Johnny Cash singing a cover-version of a song which remind us of he death of his wife and of his grief. The song was written by Evan MacColl, who dedicated it to his wife, Peggy Seeger, in 1957.