Nobody´s Place / Nowhere´s Map
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He spoke. So I handed him more fiery wine. Three times I poured some out and gave it to him, and, like a fool, he swilled it down. So then, once the wine had addled Cyclops’ wits, I spoke these reassuring words to him:
‘Cyclops, you asked about my famous name. I’ll tell you. Then you can offer me a gift, as your guest. My name is Nobody. My father and mother, all my other friends— they call me Nobody.’
That’s what I said. His pitiless heart replied:
‘Well, Nobody, I’ll eat all your companions before you and have you at the end—my gift to you, since you’re my guest.’
From the cave mighty Polyphemus roared:
‘Nobody is killing me, my friends, by treachery, not using any force.’
They answered him—their words had wings:
‘Well, then, if nobody is hurting you and you’re alone, it must be sickness given by great Zeus, one you can’t escape. So say your prayers to our father, lord Poseidon.’
–– Homer (750 B.C )
The Odyssey, The Cyclops and Nobody
Athens School of Fine Arts
Together with Jorge Martín García and
Curator: George Stamatakis
‘The crises that ensued after the crash of the global financial system a decade ago have brought about extensive transformations in people´s everyday lives, worldviews and societies. Economic hardship, heightened social dissatisfaction, anxiety for the future, they all are experiences that have crossed the bodies of many, displacing them from their established positions to new alter-geographies in which personal and social relationships are reconfigured. Referring to ancient Greek civilization, we will imagine crisis as a mythical monster so as to explore a means of fighting it as a collective Nobody.
Seeking to regain some agency amidst this scenario of rupture of seeming normalities and fading away of once expected futures, we propose to create a map of a new “we”, meaning a site in which pre-established identities and references are put on hold and encounters can flourish. We envision NOBODY´S MAP as a map that brings into dialogue bodies which were dispersed, that traces stories which were not within sight, knowledges that are to be born, other languages, other facts. A map in-the-making that can help us to redefine our fields of desire by drawing new regions to inhabit and new pathways to navigate them. In other words, we want to create NOBODY´S MAP to foster a new radical imagination so as to fight back the forces that deprive us of the capacity of creating our own desired ways of existence and life in common. The city of Athens and this text are the two sites from which to start this process of construction, the prime matter to develop our collective imagination.’
–– Yukari Sakata, Jorge Martín, Isabel Gutiérrez
 Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map manifesto takes inspiration and refers to The Cyclops and Nobody passage in The Odyssey, the ancient Greek epic poem by Homer (750 B.C. ). In this passage, the hero Odysseus resorted to the pseudonym “Οὖτις” (“Nobody” in Ancient Greek) as a strategy to fight against the Cyclops Polyphemus. Odysseus pulled out the monster´s eye. When the latter asked the other Cyclopes for help saying that “Outis” meant to kill him, nobody answered.
Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map is a collaborative art project devised by the artist and theatre director Yukari Sakata, the artist and architect Jorge Martín and myself, curated by the artist George Stamatakis and constructed by 24 creators in Athens. We owe special thanks to Panos Charalambous, dean of the Athens School of Fine Arts, and to Christina Sgouromiti, associate professor at the School, who kindly offered us the space in the School to construct the map, set up the installation and exhibit the project.
Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map seeks to explore situated questions of crisis, resistance, social imaginaries and becoming, through the creation of a political fiction that takes the shape of a multi-layered map in the making. Each stratum of the map has its own materiality and texture, yet they all – text, graphic and video – emerge and develop through the interaction with each other, namely through a mutual feeding that enables the actual growth of the map. The text presented above and the city of Athens are the initial sites from which the map emerges. The two are sites to explore, interrogate and reconfigure collectively. Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map becomes the attempt to translate the embodied encounters and conversations among creators onto a tangible artefact from/through which to discuss collectively the political potential of this fiction as well as to challenge its very desirability.
The project was exhibited at the Athens School of Fine Arts, with an opening that took the form of an open discussion among the attendants. Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map, nonetheless, is an ongoing project. It was devised with the ultimate aim of serving as an open-source device of construction of collective imaginaries and representations of counter-power. That is to say, a tool to be shared and re-appropriated so as to defy hegemonic narratives and regain agency amidst all-pervading crisis.
In this spirit, the project has been continued and reworked in the following locations. Nobody´s Place/Nowhere´s Map was transferred and re-enacted first in Tokyo, Japan, in December 2018 under the direction of Yukari Sakata. It was awarded the First Prize 2018 Tokyo University of the Arts, MA Global Art Practice, and is being kept as part of the art collection of the Tokyo University of the Arts Museum.
Following this first continuation, an excerpt of the project was re-enacted in London, UK, in March 2019 by Jorge Martín and myself at the Bartlett School of Architecture as part of the event PhD Confessionals: In Permanent Readiness for the Marvellous. The event, which was directed by Thandi Loewenson, Thom Callan and Sophie Read, featured a number of projects through a series of short performances.