The Wine Dark Sea tells the story of the leaked Nauru and Manus Island cables alongside Homer’s Odyssey.
Engraved into the marble works, near-identical phrases have been taken from both sources, and their protagonists swapped – Odysseus becoming [REDACTED], and vice versa.
AGSA Biennale : FREE / STATE
4 March – 5 June, 2022
Collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia
Arranged in situ by curator Sebastian Goldspink
The Wine Dark Sea speaks to the Odyssey’s primary question of hospitality – as how we treat our visitors, and what it says about us, rather than our guests.
While Homer’s Odyssey is embraced as the first ‘migrant novel’ and key foundation of global literature and democracy – we are perhaps unwilling to do so for the near-identical narratives of exile on our own doorstep.
Odysseus’ story, like those illegally detained for 9+ years in Australia’s off-shore migrant detention centres, is one of seemingly permanent exile – moving from island to island, with an unknown prospect of reaching home.
The texts of both the leaked condition reports of illegal off-shore detention and the great epic of oral poetry were written and recited by many authors and contributors, and covering many subjects – eventually falling to credit under one umbrella, be it Homer or Transfield.
The Wine Dark Sea interrogates such fragmentation of narrative into its installation specifications, referencing Homer’s tomb on the island of Ios, Greece. Comprised of modular and stackable rocks, it is forever swapped and re-arranged into vernacular forms by visitors through millennia, without a final form – akin to the process of story-telling itself.
Similarly, The Wine Dark Sea is not touched by the artist, and invites a guest kindred to the world of the artwork to arrange and interpret the sculptures and narratives for each showing.
Marble with great kindness to G-Lux
Installation Photography: Saul Steed
Studio Photography: Matthew R. Stanton