project by Anna-Alexandra and Elia Nedkov
Palma de Mallorca, 2020
“The bull does not know you, nor the fig tree,
nor the horses, nor the ants in your own house. ”
Lament For Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, 4 Absent Soul by Federico García Lorca
One of the most intriguing and complex myths of ancient Greece is the myths of the Minotaur on the island of Crete. Many cultural and historical alterations can be found in the myth and because of this it was not only an inspiration for art and literature, but also for psychoanalysis and philosophy.
Until Sir Arthur Evans unearthed the palace of Knossos, the half-man-half bull, killed by Theseus was considered just a popular legend; archaeology changed that perception.
The palace of King Minos, Knossos was discovered by him in 1894.
Evans knew the stories of Minos and of Knossos, and upon finding murals of bull jumping youths in the palace, posited that perhaps Knossos was the labyrinth from the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.
King Minos was one of the three sons born to Zeus and Europa. When their step-father, King Asterion, died, Minos declared himself king and appointed his brother Sarpedon as lawmaker of all the islands. Sarpedon questioned his brother’s authority, but Minos said that it was the will of the gods for him to become king. As proof, he sacrificed a bull to the god Poseidon and then asked the god to send a new bull for the same purpose. Poseidon listened to his request and sent a beautiful white bull from the sea. King Minos was very impressed, and because the bull was so beautiful, Minos set it free and sacrificed a different one.
Minos was married to the Pasiphae. Together they had many children, some of which were Ariadne, Phaedra, Glaucus and Androgeus. When Poseidon realised that Minos didn’t sacrifice the white bull, he caused Pasiphae to fall in love with the animal. Pasiphae—desperate from her love for the bull—asked for help from the sculptor and engineer Daedalus. He built her an empty wooden cow. It was so beautiful that the white bull was tricked and fell in love with it. Pasiphae then went inside the wooden cow and loved the white bull. The result of this union was the Minotaur, a powerful beast with a human body and the head of a bull.
When Minos saw the beast he was furious and asked Daedalus to build a labyrinth with unlimited corridors where the Minotaur could be held captive. The labyrinth is believed to be the one that has been found in Knossos, Crete.
Later on, when Minos’s son Androgeus was killed by the Athenians, Minos declared war against Athens and won. As a punishment, he obliged Athens to send 7 of the best and most noble youths and 7 of the finest and most virtuous maidens to be sacrificed to the Minotaur every 9 years. It is worth mentioning that King Minos was in direct contact with Zeus, which means that all of this had the indirect approval of the god. The death of the Minotaur finally came from the Greek hero Theseus, son of Aegeus, king of Athens.
With the help of King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, Theseus succeeded in slaying the monster and fled with Ariadne back toward Athens, leaving her behind on the island of Naxos. Theseus was supposed to change the black sails of the ship to white so that King Aegeus would know his son lived and had conquered the Minotaur. Theseus forgot, however, and his father, seeing the ship with the black sails, hurled himself off a cliff into the sea in grief and was drowned (the sea became known as the Aegean, after him).
“Minotauros” explores the topic of personal transformation and the role which fears play in it.
In the labyrinth of consciousness, the image of the Minotaur is a metaphor of our most terrible inner monster. A mythical creature that feeds on fears and inhabits the shadowy realm of dreams.
As we fall asleep and “step into the river of oblivion”, the faces of fears start to emerge out of it. They stick on us like a mask that dominates our whole image, until, wandering through the labyrinth, we shake them off.
The project is based one of the most intriguing and complex stories in ancient Greek mythology, that of the Minotaur on the island of Crete.
The legend covers almost all great narratives: about the primary fears of death and the unknown, the constructive and destructive power of desire, the divine blessing and anger.
A very interesting interpretation of the myth shows the Minotaur as a metaphorical image of the priest of the Great Mother Goddess, who dies and is reborn, embodying the cycle of life. The Minotaur is a symbol of transition and transformation of the inner monster we need to meet.
Apart from the complexity and beauty of this myth, the project was inspired by a series of lectures that Jorge Luis Borges delivered in 1977 at the Teatro Coliseo in Buenos Aires. In the second of them, called “La pesadilla” – “The Nightmare” Borges talks about his fears and obsessions. He makes a very interesting connection between his curiosity about the image of the Minotaur and the fear of seeing his own image in the mirror. In Borges’s story, the monstrous side of the personality, projected on the image of the Minotaur, combines a sense of fear with that of helplessness. In a conversation with the critic Amelia Barry in 1985, he said – “I dream of a mirror. I see myself with a mask, or I see in the mirror someone who is me, but who I cannot recognise as myself. ”
The project is a dramatisation of the themes of identity and the conflict between ego and super ego, while the masks are the personification of fears.