PRESS RELEASE: 15 June 2023
18 cities take part in ambitious cultural programme inspired by literary masterpieces Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey
Epic journey runs until June 2024, with public events and activities that celebrate the modern city and highlight relevance of Joyce’s work
The 18 episodes in the novel become starting points for creative responses to challenges facing contemporary Europe – individuals and communities come together to help develop new charter for arts and society
30 emerging artists take part in pan-Europe exchange, plus 18 writers, one from each city, commissioned for new book in 2024
City events in 2023 include Lugo, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis, Oulu and Berlin
18 cities from across Europe have come together to create ULYSSES European Odyssey, an ambitious multi-arts programme inspired by James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses that runs until June 2024.
ULYSSES European Odyssey is a transnational and multi-disciplinary programme with a variety of events and interventions taking place in the 18 cities in 16 countries: Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Cluj, Copenhagen, Derry/Donegal, Dublin, Eleusis, Istanbul, Leeuwarden, Lisbon, Lugo, Marseille, Oulu, Paris, Trieste, Vilnius and Zurich.
The programme highlights the contemporary relevance of James Joyce’s pivotal novel, with themes including citizenship and democracy; migration; youth; Europe’s ageing population; social media; food production and sustainability; education; religion and social co-existence; sexual identity; the environment; mental health; and neighbourhoods and community.
It includes 14 free public city events animating the democratic public spaces of modern cities, a key element of Ulysses. Individuals from all walks of life – from doctors to dancers, postmen to producers, shopkeepers to surgeons – are also being invited to come together at cross-sectoral public arts and society symposia in 16 cities. The aim is to create chARTer 309, a new democratic statement for the future relationship between the arts and society based on the 18 themes in Ulysses to be published in late 2024.
In addition, 30 artist exchange residencies are taking place, and 18 writers from different literary genres and from each city have been commissioned to contribute to EUROPE-ULYSSES, a new book also to be published next year.
Conceived by ARTS OVER BORDERS (Ireland’s acclaimed presenting body for cross-border arts festivals), and developed with Lead Partner, Brave New World Producties (Netherlands-based producing company) working with partners in each of the 18 cities, ULYSSES European Odyssey is funded through an award from the European Commission’s Creative Europe Fund.
Events and activities have been inspired by the 18 episodes of Joyce’s Ulysses, which follows Leopold Bloom’s journey across Dublin over the course of one day. The last three words of the published text of Ulysses read ‘Trieste-Zurich-Paris’, the cities in which the Dublin-set book was written (Trieste 1914-1915 and 1919, Zurich 1915-1919, Paris 1920-1922). It was written at a time of dramatic upheaval and change, including World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Joyce was himself inspired by Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, written two and a half thousand years earlier, which plays out across the islands of the Mediterranean and was written as a response to the Trojan War.
In the 21st century, Europe also faces many challenges, including the impact of the Covid pandemic, economic uncertainty, migration and the environment. In the 18 cities participating in ULYSSES European Odyssey, artists and practitioners from cultural, heritage, environmental and other sectors have taken Ulysses as a starting point to think creatively about, develop work, and open up a space for dialogue about some of the most pressing issues affecting Europe today.
Details about city activities taking place in 2023 follow the notes. ULYSSES European Odyssey is divided into three acts and more information about the full programme can be found on the website.
Séan Doran and Liam Browne from Lead Partner ARTS OVER BORDERS Ireland say:
“Ulysses and Odyssey are two of the greatest works of literature, each having something to say about people, society and our relationships with one another. Like those two inspiration points, ULYSSES European Odyssey is a journey that involves people and ideas, which moves across Europe at a pivotal time in its history. As James Joyce did, it celebrates the modern city and through public performance and lively debate we hope it will shine a light on human complexity, develop new international partnerships, offer cross-border solutions and stimulate new active citizenship between the arts and society.”
Claudia Woolgar from Lead Partner Brave New World Producties comments:
“This ground-breaking pan-European project shows the power of collaboration. Cities in 18 countries have come together, inviting the public to take part in performance, debate and the exchange of ideas and experiences, which will feed into a new creative manifesto for Europe. We are delighted to be working with some amazing partners and grateful to Creative Europe for its support, and that of our co-funders.” ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. ULYSSES European Odyssey takes place in 18 cities in 16 cities across Europe between 2022 and June 2024. It was conceived by ARTS OVER BORDERS (Ireland’s acclaimed presenting body for cross-border arts festivals), and developed with Lead Partner, Brave New World Producties (Netherlands-based producing company) working with partners in each of the 18 cities. It is funded through an award of €1.72m from the European Commission’s Creative Europe Fund.
2. The programme is divided into three overlapping Acts. Act I (2022) includes Athens, Trieste, Vilnius, Budapest, Marseille and Paris. Act II (2023) includes Berlin, Lugo, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis and Oulu. Act III (2024) includes Lisbon, Dublin and Derry/Donegal.
- Arena Ensemble (PT)
- ARTS OVER BORDERS (IE)
- Blaagaard Teater (DK)
- Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theatre and Film (RO)
- Brave New World Producties (NL)
- Budapest Brand nZrt (HU)
- Commune di Trieste (IT)
- CHORUS (GR)
- Create.Act.Enjoy (RO)
- Critical+Xwhy Agency (LT)
- Fundación Uxío Novoneyra (ES)
- gethan&myles and Collectif ildi ! eldi (FR)
- Lumo Light Festival (FI)
- Museo Joyce Trieste (IT)
- Museum of Literature Ireland (IE)
- Noorderlicht (NL)
- ONASSIS Stegi (GR)
- Rimini Protokoll (DE)
- Teatrul National Lucian Blaga din Cluj-Napoca (RO)
- Vilnius City Museum (LT)
- Yalan Dünya Films Ltd. (TR)
PROJECTS IN 2023 INCLUDE:
Ulysses in Lugo
Developed by city partner the Uxío Novoneyra Foundation, Walk the Wine Around the Wall corresponds to the eighth Ulysses episode Lestrygonians, in which Leopold Bloom stops on his long walk through the streets of Dublin to have a small lunch, a cheese sandwich, and a white wine from Burgundy. Through a programme of walks and public talks, the three-day programme offers the public an opportunity to reflect on and debate our modern-day relationship with food, from production and distribution to consumption, alongside the world-renowned Galician cuisine that Lugo offers.
Mod Lyset / Against the Light
City partner Blaagaard Teater has commissioned the Danish poet Caspar Eric, who has responded to the ninth episode of Ulysses Scylla & Charybdis, creating an audio walk, directed by Sargun Oshana, that takes the theme of education reform to reflect on ideas about the public body, disability and how it is seen – or not seen – in public spaces. Against the Light sees the audiences walking through Nørrebro in Copenhagen, listening to the poet’s story as he embarks on one last journey in a mockumentary about a young man with cerebral palsy, who must write a play about Ulysses. It’s only a matter of time before he completely loses the ability to walk. The young man reacts to his situation by walking, with the audience following in his footsteps, on foot, or in wheelchairs, guided by Caspar Eric’s voice and music played by his band.
5 June until August 2023
Over thousands of years Istanbul has been at the intersection of different civilisations and cultures. This year, people will come together across the city for film events, street art, debates, literary readings, workshops and children’s activities focused on the idea of co-existence in contemporary Europe. The centrepiece is a new film created by filmmaker Gülen Güler and the avant-garde contemporary art and film production company Yalan Dünya Films Ltd. Togetherness corresponds to the tenth episode Wandering Rocks and includes activities that focus specifically on Istanbul and Türkiye, and LGBTIQA issues. Taking place between June and August, Togetherness is also being presented in Leeuwarden, Friesland, as part of the programme being created by Noorderlicht in September, when the theme of co-existence will gain a new perspective alongside Episode 13’s theme of sexual and gender identity.
The Odyssey of Vilnelė River. Creative Currents
9 June – 30 September 2023
In Vilnius, the Vilnius City Museum and strategic change company Critical+Xwhy Agency are responding to the third episode Proteus. The River Vilnelė can be interpreted as a metaphor of the city in perpetual change, a connector of different scenarios of future development of neighbourhoods. It connects different urban Vilnius settings: post-industrial landscapes targeted by creative communities, soviet housing estates, natural landscapes and the massive new real estate developments.
Three emerging artists with experience in creating participatory artworks for public spaces are undertaking three-month residencies, together with the residents and communities of Naujoji Vilnia, Paupys and Markučiai districts will co-create temporary site-specific installations in public spaces along the banks of the river. The installations will consider different scenarios of the past, present and future for each district, with local communities the centre and drawing on knowledge and input that comes out of public symposia. The installations are launched in June 2023 with events that involve the participation of local communities, local administration, real estate developers, artists and experts.
The artists creating the installations, which will be taken down in September, are: Vladas Suncovas, artist, and residents of Paupys District; KAJ collective (Aurelija Kniukštaitė, Jonė Virbickaitė, Kotryna Bajorinaitė, architects) and residents of Nauja Vilnia District; and KAD collective (Margarita Kaučikaitė and Evelina Vasiliauskaitė, architects) and residents of Markučiai District.
SIRENS: (IN BETWEEN) HOMES
7-16 July 2023
The theatre company Create.Act.Enjoy take SIRENS, the eleventh episode of Ulysses, and ideas about the ‘other’, family relationships, the loss of loved ones, absence and presence, as the starting point for an immersive promenade performance piece, which considers the migration of Romanians abroad (of different ethnicity, gender, age and at different moments throughout history), and the effects it has on families. SIRENS is a theatrical collage that invites participation from the audience, which takes place in factory and industrial sites, linking it to the issue of jobs and employment, the Romanian political system and the economy, some of the reasons for Romanians deciding to leave the country. In doing so, it opens up a discussion about the impact it has on families left behind, and the country as a whole. Create.Act.Enjoy also host a public symposium on 22 August, following up on these themes.
SEX SHOOTER | The liberation of sexual identity
17 September – 17 December 2023
Leading photography gallery Noorderlicht, working with co-producer Brave New World Producties, has responded to the thirteenth episode Nausicaa to consider sexual identity in contemporary Europe, male/female relationships, voyeurism, power, body/image, fantasy, tumescence. It includes a multimedia exhibition, on view – or more accurately to be experienced – in various spaces in Het Stationskwartier, a publicly accessible building near the city centre and railway station in Leeuwarden.
SEX SHOOTER | The Liberation of sexual identity wants to initiate a dialogue within the urban community of Leeuwarden about tolerance and understanding of which sexual identity someone feels at home with, without the risk of being discriminated against or the subject of abuse.
Yalan Dünya Films Ltd, which is creating Togetherness in Istanbul, will co-organise This is not me (working title), a series of video screenings on the theme of gender freedom, to show the differences between the Turkish city and Leeuwarden. In October, a symposium will take place in collaboration with LGBT organisation COC Fryslan and equalities organisation Tumba.
26-30 September 2023
metamorphoSEA is a multidimensional cultural intervention inspired by the Eleusinian coast, which responds to the fourteenth episode Oxen of the Sun. The project has been developed by CHORUS, a non-profit organisation founded in Eleusis in 2016 by active citizens to bridge the gap between arts, education and social issues. Presented in collaboration with Eleusis European Capital of Culture 2023 and Brave New World Producties (NL), metamorphoSEA focuses on mobilising local communities to imagine a better future and address environmental issues through cultural practices.
It includes a site-specific artistic intervention by Dutch theatre director Sjoerd Wagenaar, inspired by the city’s coast and the almost dystopian ships “graveyard” in the Vlycha area of Eleusis. The local community will be involved, and Greek and Dutch artists are collaborating on the performance, launching an international exchange of skills, practices and experiences.
17-19 November 2023
Nighttown is a public art, illumination and performance show that responds to the fifteenth episode Circe, with its focus on dreams and the unconscious, to highlight well-being in Europe today. The city of Oulu is located in northern Finland, which has 24-hour daylight in the summertime and a lack of sunlight in the winter months, which presents mental health challenges for people living there. Light festivals and other cultural interventions have been shown to have a positive impact on well-being.
Taking place as the Lumo light festival which takes place annually in Oulo, Nighttown combines light and video art with performative elements, including contemporary dance and circus. Directed by the award-winning dance artist Pirjo Yli-Maunula and co-created with the whole team of 15 artists from Oulu-based dance company Flow Productions, the audience is invited to dive into the multisensory world of the subconscious, hallucinations and decadence, depending on their individual courage. The performance is being presented in the former Finnish National Bank building, which has been inaccessible to the public for decades.
La Danse d’Amazon
23-26 November 2023
Award-winning Berlin-based theatre group Rimini Protokoll have taken the seventh episode Aeolus as a starting point to interrogate the influence of Amazon, the fetishisation of commodities, warehouse logistics and the torn dreams of the 21st Century, bringing together digital, multimedia and live performance, including theatre, dance and circus,
La Danse d’Amazon assembles the experiences of Amazonians, circus artists, theorists on money, commodities, experts for e-commerce, behaviourism, accelerationism, the situation of the Amazonas region, the rise of the biggest selling platform the world has ever seen, and the act of smiling. The 18 chapters of Ulysses have transformed into an 18-hour protocol of the day’s world markets and what is said about them, and locates the traces of specific commodities within them, in mines, factories, in containers, websites and in the cloud. The core question of the project: What do we do for Amazon and what does Amazon do for us?
Ahead of the event in November, Rimini Protokoll are leading a number of engagement projects. A Digital Gesture is an online public event that took place in April. On 1 June, they are hosting Flic-Flacs in Amazonia, a public symposium that will be a performance preview and kick off the rehearsal process.
Other 2023 activity
Also taking place in 2023 is ongoing activity that began in 2022. In Athens, leading Greek cultural organisation the Onassis Stegi have taken Telemachus, the first Ulysses episode, as a starting point to consider youth, citizenship and democracy through a series of public workshops, discussions, music and film. In Budapest, tourism body Budapest Brand has responded to episode four, Calypso. It is hosting a series of public gatherings around the city, which involve professional and amateur storytellers, and consider the role of neighbourhood communities in post-Covid Europe for a project that culminates in 2024.
More information about the full programme can be found on the ULYSSES European Odyssey website.