The Odyssey project is the culmination and manifestation of the foundation Personne’s founding values:
- To contribute to the dialogue between the world of art and the world of the sea, by celebrating sailing and the respect of the environment.
- To make Arts and Sciences resonate and to put some charm back into scientific discourses in order to encourage vocations.
- To value the concrete implementation of a trans-disciplinary approach in the consideration of a theme.
- To make people aware of the beauty and richness of the seas and the need to preserve its unique heritage.
- To promote contemporary odysseys, the spirit of poetry and adventure.
These values, which are at the core of Personne’s approach to artistic and cultural intervention, has been developed in line with its international partners in pursuit of concretizing international exchange, dialogue, creation and evolution around Homer’s epic poem Odyssey.
With this project, we are primarily concerned and focused upon creating an occasion for the strengthening the transnational creation and circulation of European works and artists. All three phases of the Odyssey project are occasions for artistic exchange and engage in the production and promotion of for international dialogue as well as an opportunity to draw attention, through botany, literature, song and other art-forms, to the creation of sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. It is through the inclusion of multiple voices, mediums, practices on both the local and international level that this project will aid in valorizing the importance of the natural environments and thus the importance of protecting those environments. While practically, this project consists of a voyage across the shores of multiple European nations, it is also the engagement of multiple cultural histories (specifically but not limited to French, Greek, and Italian) and artistic practices (horticulture, music, literature, poetry, and book-making).
Practically speaking, The Odyssey Project is a quest to harvest the plants (of which there are 44) mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey, from the cedars of Calypso to the asphodel of the Underworld. This poetic project will take the form of a voyage through the Mediterranean Sea, beginning in Marseilles, moving through to Corsica, Sicily, Italy and Greece, to collect samples of each of the plants from their respective sites in Homer’s epic as well as to bring back some land from Ithaca in order to plant them at the Lighthouse of Pertusato (Corsica). This project aims to traverse borders, seas and centuries in pursuit of recapturing, reinterpreting and rendering accessible one of the most famous works of literature in the occidental world. The project consists of three phases. The third phase of this project is the concern of this present dossier:
a series of 24 lectures, cabarets and inviting international artists, academics, poets and musicians held at Galerie Hus in Paris, France (currently in progress). These cabarets and lectures correspond to the 24 books of the Odyssey and allow for the project to begin its “expedition” in the best of conditions; amongst friends, colleagues, artists and new audiences. While the subject matter of these lectures is based on Homer’s Odyssey or even the concept of Odyssey in the modern era, they are also occasions for new and exciting connections to be made between flora, art and modern expeditions into new and exciting territories. Additionally, each séance is accompanied by the integration of multiple art forms including but not limited to: gastronomy, perfumery, song, dance, cabaret. The lectures are as follows:
I. Clarisse Le-Bas – Ethnobotaniste. Rameaux.
II. Philippe Brunet – Helléniste. Rimes.
III. Héléna Schmidt. Linguiste. Extraits.
IV. Eugène Riguidel – Navigateur. Elixirs.
V. Aspassia Kouzoupi – Paysagiste. Arbustes.
VI. Ulisse Gnesda – Architecte. Bois.
VII. Thibaut Rouet – Biologiste. Boutures.
VIII. Mark Alizart – Philosophe. Hermes.
IX. Yann Frisch – Magicien. Circé.
X. Philippe Blon – Historien. Nausicaa.
XI. Davide della Monica – Musicologue. Calypso.
XII. Ségolène Saytour – Musicienne. Sirènes.
XIII. Angela & Rachel Flahaut. Chanteuses. Oghams.
XIV. Olivia Bransbourg & Alexandre Helwani. Parfumeurs. Embruns.
XV. Laurent Dubreuil – Philologue. Nepenthes.
XVI. Yves Serfati – Psychanalyste. Molly.
XVII. Père Alex – Prêtre. Lotus.
XVIII. Benoît Piéron – Artiste. Jardins.
XIX. Kevin Prat – Fleuriste. Bouquets.
XX. Sylvain Musseri – Grainetier. Récoltes.
XXI. Clémentine Noeuveglise – Botaniste. Semailles.
XXII. Alexandre Prieux – Bibliothéquaire. Epithètes.
XXIII. Pascal Quignard – Ecrivain. Recueils.
XXIV. Jean Paul Capitani – Editeur. Byblos.
These interactions are immediately occasions for international artistic exchange and dialogue, but will additionally be collected and disseminated, primarily, through two forms:
- The publication of a physical book which will interpret all 24 of the intervening creators through drawings, citations and other accompanied works which were produced during the events.
- The creation and publication of a website which will offer audiences the ability to engage and interact with the work of the invited artists and authors long after the conclusion of the project.
The second of these two forms is more important than ever in the context of the COVID19 pandemic as access to such events can be difficult for many. The ability for wider audiences to continue to engage with this project is of the utmost important. Additionally, this website will be made available in multiple languages (French, English, Greek and Italian) to ensure the accessibility to a variety of audiences.
The two expeditions, the first by land and the second by sea, is principally concerned with the with the exchanges that will take place between the partnering artists / associations and the local artists, artisans, singers and performers that will be met along the way. While this project involves many different partners, the organization of these voyages have also accounted for the interaction and exchange between local actors which will develop organically at the time of the voyaging party’s arrival in their various. It is through both the planned interactions with partnering institutions, associations and artists and the unplanned spontaneous interactions that this project will help valorize the exchange of local cultures, international cultures and shared mythologies, all through the lens of Homer’s Odyssey.
On the second voyage, a group of singers will accompany the ship’s crew in order to pay homage to the tradition of Greek and Italian maritime song at each of the landing sites along the voyage. Both formal and informal recitals are planned in line with the itinerary of the trip and will be recorded and become part of the final productions of the project. In the midst of the new context of COVID19, Odyssey looks to forms of cultural exchange and promotion from another epoch, reminding artists and audiences alike that technological advances and the advent of the internet are not the only ways for artistic creation to traverse borders to reach new audiences. The itinerary of the voyages is as follows but it is subject to modification:
the crystallization of this project is perhaps the most pertinent to the objective of transnational creation and diffusion as it will allow for the interactions that take place in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 to be accessible to audiences around the world to interact and partake in the experiences fostered by The Odyssey Project. It is also through these forms that the Odyssey project hopes to continue the implementation of its pedagogical components through the education and exposure of the themes of the project to different audiences. The project will result in the creation of three works:
- Edition of a commissioned work devoted to Homeric plants and their seeds, Essences of the Odyssey, by Laurent Dubreuil (Cornell University), preface by Pascal Quigard.
- Edition of Les Jardins d’Odyssée: seed collections (each containing 44 seeds corresponding to each of the plants mentioned in the Odyseys) 1000 copies in a papyrus case. 13 copies in an earthenware case made from earth collected on Ithaca.
- The development of Infinite Gardens with partnering and sponsoring institutions where the artist will install a sculpture in the form of a garden containing each of the 44 plants described in the Odyssey. 10 editions
The first work allows for students to engage, in a pedagogical context, with the work that has been carried out before, during and after, the project. The creation of a more textual element of this work is crucial to preserving its history, cultural significance and the ability to transmit its story to a wide, global audience. It is the hope that this book will be eventually translated into multiple languages after its publication in French.
The second form (the seed collection) will serve as a schema upon which participants can reinterpret and offer a recitation of the Odyssey requiring nothing other but the seeds provided in the work. It is our hope that these seed collections become educational tools used across the world as methods of explaining the intimate connection between our shared histories, the natural environment and the art of storytelling and voyage. This open ended form of storytelling also carries with it the promise of a garden that has not yet been planted, offering audiences the ability to imagine that, no matter where they are or where they may go, they require only a handful of seeds to create a beautiful work of art and to tell a beautiful story.
The third form offers institutions the ability to continue the work carried out during this project by developing and maintaining a work which acts as both sculpture and garden. These gardens will become the manifestations of the work carried out during the course of the project and will allow new audiences to engage with the work for decades to come. Most importantly, they will serve a pedagogical purpose in that they will recombine the literary, artistic and botanical aspects of the project in a single form.
Currently, Personne, is seeking funding from private, public and institutional benefactors in order to assure the voyages planned for this coming fall (September 2022) as well as the production of the works outlined in Phase 3 (please see the attached budget for more precise details). The project has currently received the generous support of the French Ministry of Culture, the Foundation Carmignac and Galerie Hus as well as the support of private donators.