It is our great honor to present the project “MARGINS OF AN ELSEWHERE” in a special book edited in Italian and English by UWE Vice-President Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlinghieri and Katerina Papatheu, member of FILDIS Syracuse, It includes poems and images of sculptures, along with texts written by experts who offer additional perspectives for reflection. The project “MARGINS OF AN ELSEWHERE” is in its deepest essence conceived both as synergy of dramatic art, contemporary sculpture, and modern poetry, and as an “ex voto” offering of benediction and invocation for women around the world for defense of human rights—in the name and under the aegis of current international legal protections, not least the Istanbul Convention against gender violence.
Marking the occasion of the classical performances on stage at the Greek Theater of Syracuse — this year concerned with three women’s stories — the event focuses on “gender violence”, past and present, as a response to a “violence of invisibility” of which women are frequently victims. These themes lead in this exhibition of sculptures, a collection of formidable works by Stefania Pennacchio. The work is inspired by the three performances, exploring in a unique variety of shapes the ways in which violence affects women’s lives in every part of the world.
The sense of shared history that binds the ranks of humankind has, in fact, its roots in myth; and myth itself represents a shared social, cultural, and philological “lexicon” — a shared “lexicon” which interprets and expresses the cultural identity of each human being; as no civilization can build itself without anchoring itself in its founding and original myths. In Greek and Latin mythology and art, an entire universe of feminine images gradually flock together to transform a “love story” into a “Gothic plot” made of physicality, hate, horror, and death, finding a natural expression—a natural space—in theatrical and artistic inventive storyline. Story lines ensure that men are at last just “coryphaei”, helpless spectators of a timeless drama, as they respond to violence against women with a curse, indifference, scorn, or other violence. For both the playwrights and their male characters, woman is frequently treated as an animal: she is thrown beyond the border, beyond moral, social, and religious law.
This is a complex project that develops almost liturgically, following a marked path made of sculptures, theatrical performances, and literary salons, conceived as “sacred” moments where the art of shaping the material, along with the poetry and the drama, revolve around the feminine archetype and its relationship with death (Alcestis); with love as individual freedom (Phaedra); and with revenge as personal justice (Electra). Through the rediscovery of these feminine myths, through the ancient and dramatic performed language of theater, and through poetry and sculpture, a language of the senses emerges, combining voice, touch, movement, sound, and sight. Here the exploits of the ancient gods and heroes affect the imagination of modern humanity, to become again an ever-existing model of the human existence, or a bold challenge to our fears and our hopes.
Today, while the remains of our common past are being destroyed in Palmyra and elsewhere by the hand of oblivion and ignorance, our ancient columns, statues, citadels, and museums often become conventional images of regret and impenetrability for young generations. Thanks to the suggestion of the powerful works of art by Stefania Pennacchio, as well as the vigorous verses by the Greek poet Titos Patrikios, candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature, and the American lyric poet Patti Trimble, the ancient tragedies, human rights, sculpture, and poetry meet in an ideal space.
Mythology, art, and poetry emerge from the motionless showcase of physical and virtual museums to state themselves as our common heritage. And they give voice and redemption to stories that belong to that long genealogy of the “different” and the “excluded”, people who in the ancient and modern world have crossed the borderline, crossed into to world which reason fears, left that other world where power and prejudice, relying on fear, always triumphs. For Stefania Pennacchio, Titos Patrikios, and Patti Trimble the human being corroded by doubt shows an unyielding dissent towards types of supremacy that arrogate a blind power over other human beings, that does not take their the needs into account. Their heroes cross that boundary — even if it leads to solitude or death — because, whatever may happen, crossing the borderline means self-consistency, self-discovery. They project themselves into the “elsewhere”, reminding us how our self-perception creates a real space, a space in which we actually live, a dimension open and ideal.
It is our great honor to present in this volume so many prestigious names of personalities from the institutional, academic, and artistic world: people who show deep sensitivity and high moral commitment on issues of profound social value; working towards the desirable prospect that world justice and equal rights, regardless of sex and religion, could reign in the world.
Let’s strive along with the myth, the art and the poetry to free ourselves from the evil of violence, oblivion, and prejudice. Ancient drama has already shown to us the path.
Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlingheri