Sofia, the Director of the Ionian Center for Art & Culture, invited me to set up an exhibition in the Center in July or August. After discussions with Rita Blaik, and remembering my experience during my last visit to Kefalonia of the Melissani Myth, I began working on an interactive project that we could exhibit in the center. After some time I began to realize that there was so much I still had to research on the island of Kefalonia that I couldn’t make anything until I understood more of what people in Kefalonia knew about and thought of this myth. I changed the creative process to follow more of the model of the Interactivos? event/exhibition at Medialab Prado in Madrid, which I have participated in since 2006 in Madrid, Mexico City and most recently just weeks before this exhibition in Dublin. The model is such that around 10 artist have ideas and arrive at Interactivos?, and locals come to collaborate with the artist and build the project onsite over 2+ weeks, culminating in an exhibition. Similarly, a general idea and goal for the exhibition had been conceived prior to arrival in Kefalonia, but the implementation was still in question. I invited specific collaborators, to come to Kefalonia and collaborate on the project onsite within the 2+ weeks we were there. There were many changes over the 2+ weeks. When we arrived we had no idea that we could get access to the actual Melissani Cave Lake for the exhibition and performance. In the back of my mind I hoped, but it seemed like an impossibility. So much of the project evolved and adapted to the Cave Lake space. We even didn’t have a second projector until the night before the event at 3am (thanks to Sugarbar, in Argostoli). But on August 10th, at 7PM, the opening went as scheduled, boats cycling through the cave, 3 at a time, with 15 people per boat, each boat equipped with an Android phone with a custom app that would allow boat inhabitants to send messages to each of the performing Melissani characters (girls dressed in white standing on the mound in the cave lake and tracked with a Kinect) which shot Melissani spirits out of the heads of the selected Melissani, which would travel up the walls of the cave and into the abyss projected in the ceiling. When the spirit arrived at the ceiling abyss, a loud boom accompanied by a brightly colored light would expand to fill the ceiling, followed by a sample flute sound prerecorded by Wilifredo Terrazas (the amazing and world famous flutist from Mexico City). When activity from the Android phones halted, the ceiling would return to the video of female swimmers swimming underwater (captured from the Kefalonia beaches, thanks to Katia, Nancy, and Natalie) that represented Melissani spirits already passed on, and white particles normally floating around would collect in the bellies of each of the Melissanis.
Wilifredo also stood in a different area of the mound performing his flute live along with the prerecorded flute sounds and the bursts. We also brought a large drum to add to the explosive base sounds in the cave. The Vice-Major of Melissani made an appearance, along with around 100+ visitors. Local bars and restaurants donated free drinks and food for visitors to the cave. The cave usually closes at 7 daily, and the performance lasted until 10PM. Thanks to Carles Gutierrez, Victor Diaz Barrales, Reza Sefavi, Adnan Naseem, Haytham Nawar, and Wilifredo Terazas for coming to Kefalonia and building the project onsite together. Thanks also to Eleni Kadda, Marilena Iliopolou, Roxani Rizzla Divari and more for performing as Melissani in the Cave. Thanks also to Rita Blaik and Evanjalos Kapros for advising. Keep your eyes out for the trailer and the Melissani Cave Lake Performance Exhibition Documentary film produced by Astral Hawk Projections and Adnan Naseem in cooperation with the group. This will represent the journey that this group underwent to discover, collaborate, and immerse themselves in the Melissani myth to create such a project in Kefalonia. Below is a diagram that explains visually what went on in the lake.
and don’t forget the video teaser for the film (captions coming soon):