La nova Ítaca de la Mediterrània de Joan Bennàssar

The new Ithaca of the Mediterranean · Can Picafort · Son Serra de Marina · Santa Margalida · has its origins in Joan Bennàssar’s 2016 exhibition Ports d’alga marina. The current phase, completed in the spring of 2022, responds to the Town Hall’s interest in promoting the social development of the municipality and its tourist centre as a great cultural centre that complements its important archaeological heritage and enhances its wide range of commercial and restaurant offerings.

Joan Bennàssar, a painter and sculptor born in Mallorca, is the author of the project which, with a certain formal primitivism, classical subtlety and the groundbreaking gesture of the avant-garde, gives visibility to an Ithaca as a hymn of faith in man and love of life. He is driven by passion, and believes that imperfection is one of the identifiable parts of human greatness and art, as he always works to the forces of nature. Instances of instinct, it is a magical and fascinating game where beauty alone brings a lot of truth. With his work bathed in the Mediterranean, he tries to unite the world with man and man with the world.

Mediterranean culture, a common landscape of olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields bordering an ever-blue sea, is made up of three great cultural communities: that of the West, which draws on the legacy of the Greek and Roman world; Islam, which stretches from Morocco to the Indian Ocean; and Byzantium. They are a sum of civilisations piled one on top of the other, with the man as the axis around which their dreams gravitate, and they are already memory and part of our history. The new Ithaca of the Mediterranean aims to connect the narrative of the past and its stories, myths and shipwrecks of yesterday with the dreams and horizons of today.

The classical world is that of Greco-Roman antiquity, a long period of more than a thousand years beginning with Homer in the 8th century BC and ending in the 2nd century AD with Hadrian. A world in which the Romans borrowed from the Greeks and the Greeks from earlier cultures, customs and myths. Their great cultural, commercial and trade expansion throughout the Mediterranean basin can be traced back to the ancient Mycenaean and Phoenician peoples. The Greeks completed the Phoenician writing system by adding vowels. These were long centuries of change in the field of justice and freedom. The strength of classical thought, its philosophy and the links it establishes between art, common sense and harmony, as a balance between two opposing entities, is the reason why we still share a common humanity with it today.

Homer is the author of the first surviving texts of great length. The Iliad narrates the Trojan War. Achilles’ anger and his interview with the old Priam after the death of Hector culminates in a great moment of human grief and shared sadness. The Odyssey, perhaps the most influential literary work in history, recounts the return of Ulysses, in Greek Odysseus, to his homeland and the struggle between Penelope and her suitors. It is the first known depiction of nostalgia and offers frequent displays of feminine sensibility, which distances it from the rudeness of the Iliad and raises doubts as to whether its author was a woman. Twenty years after Odysseus’ departure for the Trojan War with twelve ships and fifteen hundred men, when he finally returns to his beloved Ithaca, he has not a single man or ship left.

Aristotle, philosopher and scholar of Homer’s work, considered it the synthesis of divine and human wisdom. Tutor of Alexander the Great, who extended the empire to the far reaches of the Mediterranean, he interpreted it as the most important work of Greek culture as well as the ideal to aspire to. It is said that he slept with a copy of The Iliad under his pillow.

The influence of Homer’s work is present in the work of many other writers, the classics are read and interpreted in each era according to the winds of the moment, and the Alexandrian poet Konstantin Kavafis (1863-1933), in his beautiful poem, brings us closer to a more personal Ithaca.

As you set out for Ithaka

Hope the voyage is a long one

Full of adventure, full of discovery.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better it lasts for years

So you are old by the time you reach the island,

Wealthy with all you have gained on the way.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

You will have understood by then what these Ithakas means.

Link a Google Maps “La nova Ítaca de la Mediterrània”

Robert Graves (1895-1985), a poet and writer living in Deià, with a notable poetic and literary oeuvre centred on the ancient and mythological world, is the author of The Golden Fleece, one of the most fascinating myths of antiquity. The adventure of the hero Jason on the ship the Argo, accompanied by a crew of demigods, the Argonauts, is a voyage of initiation and apprenticeship that took them all along the southern coast of the Black Sea. A unique maritime adventure and a treatise on the customs and fears of their time. The fleece, a purple-dyed ram’s skin, is the representation of the ideal of legitimacy, royalty, beauty and love.

The culture of our islands is the sum of the peoples who moored their boats in search of refuge, food and trade; today pleasure and amusement. Beauty knows no dogmas, when it adds up it dilutes frontiers and renews horizons. We are united by custom, love of life, landscape and a common history. The new Ithaca of the Mediterranean is a beautiful cultural project, finding ports to protect us from the storms and building watchtowers where we can glimpse waves of hope and humanity on the horizon.



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