Xénai is a project about extraneity and about the possibility to find affinities in it. Moving from classic literary feminine figures who has been marked as “foreigners”, in one way or another, I’m trying to elude any cliché they could represent, highlighting instead those elements that can bring them closer.
Of course, it also concerns the status of women in History and some things which still didn’t change about it. And it’s about victim complex and truly being a victim. And about Beauty.
Xénai, ξέναι, is feminine plural adjective/noun for “foreign, strange” (ξένος, xénos) in Ancient Greek, this word giving the title to the project because I’m starting from figures foreign to the proper Greek world. Currently I’m planning three first paintings, and with every one of them I’ll try to tell a little more about the reasons why I choose every single figure.
(Oil on canvas, 50 x 30 cm, 2015)
You can find her story in Greek mythology here and read about Christa Wolf’s novel here. She also gives name to the Cassandra metaphor, occurring when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved.
Regarding the original mythos, you’ll find out that Kassandra is a double foreigner : not only as a Trojan for Greeks, but also among her own folk, becoming more and more isolated because of her prophecies and Apollo’s curse never to be believed. I wanted to catch the moment when she gets Apollo’s gift, longing for it and still afraid of all its consequences.
On the little paper piece I glued onto the canvas are her two first lines in Aeschylus’ tragedy Agamemnon: “ototototoi popoi da / opollon opollon”. “Opollon” of course refers to Apollo, but the beginning cannot be translated, it sounds like a fearsome stuttering or like a lament, and nothing more.
At the beginning I added “Turkey” to the title simply because she was born in Troy, Turkey. Now that the project is getting a bit more structured, I also want to find for every figure a possible direct parallel in modern days, no matter if a single person or a category of people. For my Kassandra I’m now thinking about Figen Yüksekdağ, current co-leader of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey, as example of a woman not afraid of telling the truth about the government of her own country.
Aeschylus, Oresteia. Agamemnon.
Christa Wolf, Kassandra, Suhrkampf Verlag Frankfurt, 2008 
Euripides, The Trojan Women.