INTRODUCTION to “ARCHiPELAGOS / Passages”
Amélia Muge | Michales Loukovikas
ARCHiPELAGOS / Passages: Amélia Muge & Michales Loukovikas, Periplus
Henrique Luís Gomes de Araújo, anthropologist and musician
● I feel obliged to thank the Galeria Porto Oriental Director, Dr Ana Maria Abrantes, who invited me to make this short introduction to “ARCHiPELAGOS / Passages” by Amélia Muge and Michales Loukovikas, presented as a continuation of another project, made seven years ago: “PERIPLUS / Luso-Hellenic Wanderings”.
● I would like to start expressing my congratulations to the two artists:
- For selecting these two key concepts of the project that they defined very well;
- And also for the quality of the choices and interpretation of the music and poems that so well give the artistic tone of the anthropological time, which triggered the project in 2016: Indigence, Nostalgia, Without Gods, Indignation, Lost Kids, Weariness of Being, etc.
● We can present it through António José Martins’ concise phrase as an “artistic endeavour of a possible historical voyage across the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean human being”.
● What do these words mean for me, as an anthropologist?
- First of all. They challenge me to make the ethnography of the crisis that since 2008-2009 entailed the application of public economic-financial austerity policies to Greece and Portugal. I’m not going to talk about it now. All of us as European citizens know it, as well as its consequences. This crisis has already been the subject of texts I have published.
- Secondly. I am intrigued by the virtual starting point of this project: the artists start by meeting on the Internet Sea to launch themselves onto “Mare Nostrum” they define as a “closed sea, but open to our common heritage, in dialogue with the cultures of the Black and Red Seas, of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans”, in their similarities and differences.
- Thirdly. They reveal to me the processes by which this project was interwoven: from an “inner voyage” to “discover ourselves” in this “open sea voyage”, in the context of the Mediterranean. And how did this “inner voyage” took place in such a context? Through what “interactions”, what “channels of communication”, what “bridges”?
- Fourthly. They lead me to an answer: with the “project’s compass” – made of Sappho’s, Hélia Correia’s and Hölderlin’s poetry, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s music, of Euripides’ chorus, of the 3500-years-old Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal, of Acordai!, by José Gomes Ferreira and Fernando Lopes-Graça, of the refugees’ tragedy – we arrive at the mythical islands of Ithaca, Utopia or Neverland and, across the Mediterranean, sailing through the Pillars of Heracles (Gibraltar), to the archipelagos of Macaronesia (Madeira and the Azores, the Canaries and Cape Verde).
- Lastly. They make me ask the following questions:
1. Is it possible for us to unite in fact with the Other or will there always be an “abyss” between us that makes “any relationship an emergency passage” (A. Muge)?
2. Faced with this beautiful and meticulous project that starts in Mare Internet in the direction of the artistic history of Mare Nostrum, where is the reality of the “Mediterranean human being”? Or, more broadly: What is reality, or: what is real?
Henrique Luís Gomes de Araújo
Galeria Porto Oriental / November 22, 2019