Quadrivium: Ancient Myth-Making and Contemporary Brazilian Art

The new Wexner Center Exhibition Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil opens tomorrow (Friday January 31st), which gives me the chance to let you know about an exciting project that I have assigned the 662 (no, that is not a typo!) students in my Classics 2220: Classical Mythology class this semester. In the final section of the class called Making Myths Ancient Philosophers, Modern Artists, the students explore the ways in which Plato created new myths in his Dialogues – from the Atlantis story of the Timaeus-Critias to Er’s Afterlife Journey in the Republic – to not only engage with previous mythic traditions of Homer and Hesiod, but also to forge new ideas for his innovative philosophical project. As a way of emphasizing how Plato remade earlier myths and created new myths, this part of the course will also look at how modern and contemporary artists return to themes within earlier periods in art history and culture to transform their current work and world-view into a myth-making process. Now, this part of the course has its own assignment which asks the students to engage with myth making in terms of the Cruzamentos exhibition, and, importantly, their own dynamic and creative response to it. Here is what the students need to do:

A: Visit the Wexner Center for the Arts Exhibition Cruzamentos and explore the galleries, making sure they see, in particular, the following two works

(i) the series of photographs called The Last Photo/A última foto by Rosângela Rennó

(ii) the multimedia installation called The Uprising/O Levante by Jonathas de Andrade 
B: As they leave the Wexner Center, the students have to take two photos:
(i) One of the outside of the Wexner Center. It can include any other objects, people etc, but it must include some part of the building somewhere in it. 
(ii) One of their Wexner entrance wrist band – with their name clearly written on it – as proof of their visit to the exhibition (the picture below is not what the Wexner wristbands actually look like!) .  

            C: Write a paragraph – 250 words – that creates their own myth about either of the two topics:

(i) the Wexner Center building (e.g. its origins, the gods or heroes or humans who built it, what it was built for, what was used to make it; the destruction of the building, how it happened, why).
(ii) the student’s visit to the Wexner Center – imagining they are a hero in an epic myth, what wonders they saw there, what monsters they encountered etc). 

Then the students have to put together the two photos and the text in a standardized template and submit it to me electronically. It is a pass/fail project – if they do it, they get the full marks. I will report back on how this goes at the end of April.

Watch this space!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *