10 March 2016

Rocco Venezia on Nekyia

10 March 2016 - Written by Laurence Cornet

We present Rocco Venezia's series "Nekyia", a personal journey exploring contemporary Greece with mythology as a guideline.

Image from the series Nekyia by Rocco Venezia

When a friend named the river crossing the region where she was planning to spend the summer, the three syllables awakened Rocco Venezia’s fascination for mythology as a metaphor for human realities. Acheron - the black river that Charon skims to carry souls to the world of the dead.

“Everything became obvious”. Venezia decided to draw on this uncertain passage as a personal analogy and a symbol of Greece’s present struggle with political instability and European pressure. Back in 2012, he had covered the turmoil in Athens for an Italian newspaper, but he recently resolved to push documentary to another place, nuanced and intimate, some steps away from the immediate and the spectacular.

The result is thus also a lot about his own journey. “The second aspect of the title, Nekyia, (ed. Nekyia, that comes from the ancient Greek ritual by which deceased's ghosts were called up and questioned about the future) recalls Carl Jung’s idea about the inner descent as a way of finding a certain knowledge of oneself into the subconscious.

Image from the series Nekyia by Rocco Venezia

The river frames my work. It’s 56 kilometres long from the mountains to the sea.” Along the way, a mainly unpopulated and agricultural area rooted in tradition. “Greece is still very attached to a certain cultural stereotype and the political and economical situations are linked to their connection to this set of values.” Again, every descent ends up with something good.

Without the shadow of judgment or pre-conception, Venezia brings together the elements of an on-going parable, embracing the meaningful coincidences that materialize on his way since the very beginning of the project. “The picture of the owl is very symbolic - in the mythology, this is the bird used by gods to carry messages. It was three weeks before my trip to Greece, on the day of the referendum on whether or not Greece would stay within the UE. I was roaming the street of my hometown, in the South of Italy, and the owl fell in front of me.

That was the beginning of more captures of the parallels between history and mythology, with the subjectivity as a narrative thread. There has then been a fisherman standing on his boat on a hazy day navigating his way through the reeds with a long pole, just as Gustave Doré’s etching of Charon. There has been a beekeeper, whose mask of multiple squares evokes the 100 eyes of Argos. And there has been his reaching out with a feverish hand to the entrance of the passage to the afterlife, where people ask the oracle about their future.

Image from the series Nekyia by Rocco Venezia

To discover Rocco Venezia's series, visit his PHmuseum profile.

Written by

Laurence Cornet

Reading time

3 minutes

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