In case you are not familiar with Oedipus at Colonus, the last surviving play by Sophocles, let us make the long story short for you: Exiled from his city, Oedipus, the mythical King of Thebes, arrives in Colonus as a blind beggar and gains the protection of Theseus, King of Athens. The play moves on to describe the end of Oedipus’ tragic life.
Oedipus in search of Colonus, was the official Greek submission at the 59th Venice Art Biennale. Artist and filmmaker Loukia Alavanou has produced a VR installation which features members of the Roma community from western Athens, who follow in the footsteps of Oedipus, who, supposedly, went through this exact area on his way to Athens. The 15-minute film, shot with 360° VR technology, explores issues such as ageing and death, human dignity and universal freedom. Alavanou, who was inspired by the trans-Balkan pop culture of contemporary Roma artists, aims to showcase the reality of Roma communities.
The installation is now on display at the semi-lit Exhibition Hall -1 of Onassis Stegi in a very intriguing setup: visitors enter specially crafted hemispherical domes and sit in anatomical chairs (inspired by the work of visionary architect Takis Zenetos) to watch the film with VR headsets. But they don’t only watch, they also interact with the imagery and audio. Fascinating stuff.