Thursday, February 24, 2011

Penelope`s Letters

Dear little blog, I do still love you... I promise. These past two years have been quite wonderful and overwhelming. I should like to resume posting things here every once in a while, and even though I believe I made such promises in the past, I will do my best this time around to keep this sketch-blog running and do so within more reasonable intervals.

To begin, I`d like to share a little video I made last semester. Frankly its somewhere between a video and a short film (can`t quite call it the former because it is set to a narrative).

The story is my attempt at an adaptation of and response to Penelope`s character, from Homer`s Odyssey. While recently reading The Odyssey (for the first time, I must shamefully admit) I was immediately drawn to the estranged character of Penelope, who is trapped within her little tower, while Odysseus roams the high seas for 20 years. In the original story Penelope is expected to wait for Odysseus` return, and her staying celibate for that entire duration of time is not only not seen as ludicrous (as we, perhaps, might view it nowadays), but, on the contrary, a mark of chastity, an esteemed quality of a good wife. While Odysseus plays an active role in the Homeric epic, Penelope serves as his passive, feminine counterpart.

In my adaptation, instead of weaving a tapestry in her quarters (as the original Penelope does), I bestowed my heroine with the ability to write, which she certainly could not have done during the actual days of Homer (in fact, it is disputable whether Homer himself was literate, and perhaps The Odyssey had existed as oral tradition first, for several generations, before being finally committed to parchment, posthumously, by someone else... although all of this is, for the most part, guesswork and speculation).

The main concept behind my altered narrative is the idea of concealing memory within a concrete object. In my story, Penelope writes letters to Odysseus, but since she has no idea as to his whereabouts, the letters can never actually be sent. Over time she surrounds herself with these letters, which she then literally makes concrete by casting them in plaster. The attempt here is to make something light and ever-shifting, ever-evading - namely memory - into something concrete and permanent. It is her absurd way of preserving Odysseus. My wish here was to draw attention to the all-too-neglected self-destructive aspect of Homer`s Penelope. She destroys herself through her obsessive clinging to the memory of a person, whose image, as anything else, cannot escape the all-too-natural memory erasure we are all subject to, bound as we are to time.

All that said, hope you guys enjoy! To see movie click here.

Here are some screen shots from the rough footage (some of which did not make the final cut):


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Blogger Ayumi Sophia said...

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12:22 PM  

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