Rea Thönges-Striggari

Odysseus-Faust within the inner world of the plastic movement

Concerning the pursuits of Yiannis Melanitis, the origins of consciousness evolution are proved and comported with the drama of plastic becoming.

His central hero-guarantor, Odysseus, a decisive figure in the course of western intellect, approaches us here with an obvious leap into Faust. Visible in both,“the force of suffering [πάσχειν] and acting [ποιείν]” is that Dionysian / Nietzschean impetus, where each creature emerges from – and each creature of the mind as a formation of thought-action.

Inevitable darings were presumed : the encounter with Cyclops, whence Odysseus will be forced to turn away and resign awhile so much from the hedonic dynasty of nature and the nature of the senses, as well as from the ephemeral knowledge of individuality. Thus, only in this way he achieves the internal glimpse of that universal Noman (Ούτις=Κανένας). In order to be somebody, shouldn’t you first deeply experience the 'No-one' ?

The adventure of Ego (still going on) seems to start in the wild heavy sea of soul and flesh, where Odysseus wrestles with death and – before meeting the rescuer Leucothea – he will shout: ώμοι εγώ, μη τις μοι υφαίνησην δόλον...["this is only some one or other of the gods who is luring me to ruin.] (Perhaps the first argued cry/appearance of “I” in the history of humanity.)

At the agonizing sigh of the storm-tossed “Ego” - in the counterbalance of No-one! - the nymph Leucothea will respond. And her way to help is noteworthy: she gives Odysseus her bandeau, ordering him to wrap with it his breastbone: thus, what is connected with the intellectual operations is moved to the sentiment? (What do we truly know about this?) In any case, that same divine cloth the hero should throw back in the sea, as soon as, out of danger, he steps on the ground of Faiacs.

The next lethal ordeal brings Odysseus, with an organic, I would say, consequence of ritual mysteries, confronted with the world of the dead - and the certainty of personal death. In Nekyia, Odysseus, penetrating the crystalline prism of the “Ego” oversteps in the possibility of an ecumenical mission: he is rendered mature to accept the order of Tiresias.

The return shrinks, is almost annihilated, because“ the ingenious one”, in a currently new orbit, will continue his course. In Ithaca, it takes place nothing else than the completion of a moment: there he will only return in order to die. Before he leaves again, in the bed of Penelope's love, he will repeat the words of Tiresias: that he should head, with the oar in the shoulder, until reaching places where the residents, upon seeing him, will confuse the oar with the hay-fork. What a terrible fairy tale! Towards where -and whom - therefore Odysseus moves in his second and unutterable henceforth travel - unutterable, perhaps because we know, either way, his conclusion? In any case, one thing seems certain: the one that confuses the oar with the hay-fork is the man -landworker, a person with the ignorance of the sea - and this means: ignorance of the kinetic distinctiveness of her marine culture.

If therefore we consider it a serious narration (and why not?), Odysseus going north (because only towards this direction the sea is unknown) has the mission to disseminate (in the upcoming European space) precisely that culture, which afflicted also himself: the culture with the force of suffering [πάσχειν] and acting [ποιείν]. Which is inherent and concerns the intellectual (and natural) mobility as well as the plastic process.

Plasticity, moulding, faculty of representative figuration: … where does the elaboration of fictile matter stops, when also the dreams “are moulded”? A concept inconceivable until today, the datum of ancient Greek sculpture has been perhaps incorrectly encaged exclusively in the “work”. It is still a subject of research what precisely the Greek craftsmen added or altered with their terrible organic consequence in the egyptian and assyrian models – masterpiece formations themselves, however more “idols” than “creatures”. And if we detect in the Greek maker, originating around the 8th century BC (or even earlier?), this different breath and different movement, perhaps we unforeseenly discover that the same energy, the same inaccessible, suspended between spirit and matter plastic being, is inherent. It is inherent as a sweeping wave, feeder for all these experiments that we named “democracy”, “drama”, “philosophy”, “science” - all together, as a blow and movement of the mind. Thus, the reality of the city -precarious model of the live social sculpture - replaces, with all its risks, the immobility of theocratic doctrines. This hidden contagious force from the inside, is immanent, I suppose, in the searches of Yiannis Melanitis: plastic blow, contraction/dilation in each living being, in each living idea: Alles ist Plastik < the Theorem of Plastic by Joseph Beuys: One and Everything.

Focusing on the emblematic scene of Nekyia, the artist extends here consistently the narrative leading it to a new dimension. The experience of death, the Tiresias' command - and mainly its acceptance - transubstantiate Odysseus. His dead, “old”, self is not removed (is not lost) but becomes a precious and continuous load - with elements of a foetus. Always you have something dead that you carry with you - and this may become seed. For what is next…

[translated by Y. Melanitis]