Penelope: an Ode
Paxos, Greece. July 2016.

Photos courtesy of Costanza Bergo. 

'Penelope: an Ode' is a site-specific performance art piece aimed at revitalising the mythological figure of Penelope, historically and culturally marketed as the paradigm of faithful and obedient wife. In this empowering reading of the character, the performer coalesces mythological and contemporary by quoting and re-interpreting the performance and poem 'Waiting' written and performed at Womanhouse in 1970s by pivotal performance artist Faith Wilding. In this felt re-contextualisation, Penelope is portrayed in her paradoxical conflict: on the one hand she presents herself as a skilful and pro-active woman whose inventive genius and hard work grant her a decade of autonomous sovereignty (in absence of the long gone husband Odysseus); on the other, she is still victim of a patriarchic archaic (and not only) society that subordinates her decisional and governative power to that of the male figures culturally destined to reign. As a result, She is here engaged in both a passionate act of self-empowerment and defence (from the harassing suitors) with the laborious making and undoing of the weave as well as in one of compassionate self-caring whilst exposing her ontological condition of subordinate character dominated by the act of waiting.

Waiting.
Waiting to be born.

Waiting.
Waiting to be fed.

Waiting.
Waiting to be taught how to walk.

Waiting.
Waiting to be taught how to speak.

Waiting.
Waiting to be taught when not to speak.

Waiting.
Waiting to bleed.

Waiting.
Waiting to fall in love.

Waiting.
Waiting to be married off.

Waiting.
Waiting to give birth.

Waiting.
Waiting for my son to grow up.

Waiting.
Waiting for my husband to go to war.

Waiting.
Waiting for my husband to return from war.

Waiting.
Waiting for my son to find my husband at war.

Waiting.
For my son and husband to return from war.

Waiting.
Waiting for war to end.

Waiting.
Waiting for my husband to rescue me from his enemies.

Waiting.
Waiting for the world to realise, I never needed a husband in the first place.