Three Athenians in Kassel, Episode Eight: Only a Pawn in Their Game

This man of ours that was but now so blustering and warlike, he who won’t permit that women wear their hair full length, lies sprawled out weeping.

– Sosias in Menander’s Perikeiromene

After their close encounter with cannibals, life was getting back to normal for our three Athenians in Kassel. Alexis was still recovering from his traumatic experience and was spending his evenings doing some gentle ‘witnessing’ research in their tiny house. .

Meanwhile, Bia and Nina were out celebrating Gustave’s first day in his new job as a documenta 14 official.

He had been assigned to deliver his report on the day’s performance and after the usual questions about numbers of participants etc, he reached the last question on his report card:

“Ok, last question: as you know, for our records we have to cover every aspect of our interactions with the public here in Kassel, people are very sensitive to you being here, as Greeks in Germany, and some have described it as “crisis tourism”. So, we need to extend our report beyond the immediate limits of the performance. So, we need to ask, did anything happen immediately following the performance?”

Bia looked over at Nina with a distressed look, as if to say “we can’t tell him”.

“Bia, we have to tell him, if we don’t there may be more of them and we have to stop this now”, Nina implored.

“Ok, tell him, but on your head be it”, replied Bia in a resigned tone.

“Very well, so we had just finished the performance and we left by the back door as per usual. Outside the building there was a parked car, which we had never seen before. Here, I took a photo on my phone”, Nina shows Gustave the photo:

“Then suddenly out jumped two people in animal masks – resembling the ones that you can see in Gauri Gill’s photographs at the Hessisches Landesmuseum.”

“They grabbed Nina”, Bia continued, “Pushing her to the ground and the next thing we knew was that they had an electric razor in their hand and were shaving the back of her head.” Nina, who the whole time during dinner had her head covered with a hood, slowly revealed her shorn hair.

“I was terrified”, Nina whispered, holding back the tears, “But then something very weird happened. Our animal-masked attackers suddenly stopped, jumped back in their car and drove off.”

Gustave sat there in stunned silence, he had stopped taking notes for his documenta 14 report a while ago. “Do you remember anything else? Any other details?”

“Yes”, Bia said, “As they drove off, I heard them shout something, although I’m not completely sure what it was”.

“I think I remember”, interrupted Nina, “it was a variation on some lyrics from a Bob Dylan song I had been listening to the night before. It went something like”:

Like a dog on a chain
You ain’t got no name
But it ain’t you to blame
You’re only a pawn in their game

The heavy silence resumed over the table. What was meant to be a night of celebration had taken a sinister and perplexing turn and our Athenians had never felt so alone and so instrumentalized. What did this mean? Were they the dogs on a chain? Were they the ones with no name? If so, whose game were they pawns in? Why did they shave Nina’s head? First cannibals and now this. Surely being at the cutting edge of the contemporary art world wasn’t worth putting their lives in danger? What would happen next?

To find out, tune in to tomorrow’s episode of Three Athenians in Kassel.

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