Sailing in Troubled Waters
The Ancient Mediterranean and its Legacy in the
Performing and Visual Arts
Faro (Algarve), October 1-4, 2014
Sur l’immense passé de la Méditerranée, le plus beau des témoignages est celui de
la mer elle-même. Il faut le dire, le redire. Il faut la voir, la revoir.
Fernand Braudel’s haunting words resound like an echo of the sea and its millenary history. From Prehistory until today, the Mediterranean has been setting, witness and protagonist of mythical and supernatural adventures, of encounters with the Other, of legendary and historical battles, of the rise and fall of cultures and empires, and last but not least, of fortunate and tragic destinies of humans, such as those wrecked sailors immortalised in the epitaphs of the Greek Anthology. Braudel’s appeal for a long duréee history of the Mediterranean challenged traditional views that often present it as a sea fragmented and divided through epochs and periods. At the beginning of the 21st century, works such as P. Horden and N. Purcell’s The Corrupting Sea. A Study of Mediterranean History (2000), and W.V Harris’ Rethinking the Mediterranean (2005), revisited Braudel’s oeuvre and reaffirmed the need to study the Mediterranean also as a unity, a cross-temporal fluid space of communication and cultural interaction. Yet the Mediterranean is still regarded today as a geographical and cultural frontier that separates Africa, Asia and Europe. The current deep economic and cultural crisis of the European Union has opened public debates fuelled by political agendas around the growing differences between northern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, while the sea exposes its most spectral side as a tragic and impregnable border. Now, more than ever, it is time to return to the Mediterranean.
” Il faut revoir la Méditerranée”
Sailing in Troubled Waters proposes a journey into the bright – but also dark – sides of the ancient Mediterranean through the kaleidoscopic gaze of artists who from the Renaissance to the 21st century have been inspired and fascinated by the sea, its myths and history. The view of those who imagined and recreated the past of the sea has largely contributed to the shaping and transmission of modern cultures that, close or not to its shores, are rooted and embedded in Mediterranean traditions. The conference will look at the representation in the performing and visual arts of ancient myths, fiction and history, and will pay particular attention to the theme of sea travel and travellers. We welcome proposals on these topics but also on the ‘rediscovery’ of the Mediterranean Sea and its past cultures by modern travellers before, during and after the Grand Tour era. To what extent and in what ways do artists, authors and travellers look at the sea either as a nostalgic testimony of the lost glory of an unattained past or as a loyal custodian of inherited traditions?
But as for Scylla, the father of gods and men did not suffer her again to catch sight of me, else should I never have escaped utter destruction. Thence for nine days was I borne, and on the tenth night the gods brought me to Ogygia, where the fairtressed Calypso dwells, dread goddess of human speech, who gave me welcome and tendance.
Sailing in Troubled Waters is the fourth of a series of international conferences devoted to the representation of Antiquity in the visual and performing arts that are organised by the research project Imagines (www.imagines-project.org). Portugal is also the fourth country that will host a conference by the network. The first Imagines took place in Logroño (La Rioja, Spain) in 2007 (published by the University of La Rioja, 2008, link); Imagines II: Seduction and Power, was held in Bristol (UK) in 2010 (published by Bloomsbury, 2013); and the third, Magic and the Supernatural, was hosted by the University of Mainz (Germany) in September 2012 (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
Like the Phoenicians, the protagonist of Lucian’s True Story, Dante’s Odysseus and the anonymous sailor from Juvenal’s Satire 14, Sailing in Troubled Waters will challenge the Ocean Monsters beyond the Pillars of Hercules and land in the wonderful city of Faro (Algarve), the ancient Ossonoba, a Roman commercial town known for its salt resources. The conference will be held at the University of Algarve from October 1 to 4, 2014.