lynette m.f. bosch, ph.d.

SUNY Distinguished Professor, SUNY Geneseo

Apollo, the most beautiful of the Greek Gods, was the God of healing and pestilence, able to heal and sicken, with the arrows he shot from his bow and able to heal with his knowledge of medicine.

In the 8th Century B.C., Homer, in the Illiad, recorded that Apollo punished Agamemnon, the Mycenean King, with a plague to avenge Agamemnon’s abduction of the daughter of his priestess, Chryses. As did Apollo’s attempted rape of Daphne, the plague destroyed the order of life, with violence.  The plague Apollo sent to the Greek army at Troy ended when he was appeased with sacrifices and purifications. Plague and arrows. Love and arrows. Death and arrows. Lockdown as expiation and required sacrifice.

In his dual role as healer and destroyer, Apollo came to Geandy and Imara on Day 17 (Apolo y Dafne), as one of the most troubling of the Greek myths, where Apollo first woos then attempts to sexually assault the nymph, Daphne. The Classical myth is recounted in various sources, most notably Hyginus (1-49 A.D.), Fabulae and Ovid (43 B.C.-17/18 A.D.), Metamorphoses. Daughter of the River God, Peneus, and the nymph, Creusa, Daphne became Apollo’s target after Apollo mocked Cupid and Cupid cursed him. Realizing that Apollo’s rape would destroy her vow of virginity, Daphne cried out to her father to save her and he transformed her into a laurel tree, putting her beyond Apollo’s reach. Restored to his senses by her transformation, Apollo made the bay laurel evergreen and made its leaves into a crown for poets and artists. As such, the myth records Apollo’s dual nature, violent and peaceful – the two aspects of humanity that are at the core of the human condition. 

day 17 - apolo y dafne

The myths of the Greeks recurred in Geandy and Imara’s lockdown and, on Day 3 (Perseus and Medusa), they became inspired by their version of the myth of Perseus and Medusa, in an image recasting its themes into a Cuban context, by including a print of the icon of Cuba, La Virgén de la Caridad (The Virgin of Charity). In Greek mythology, Perseus was the hero, who vanquished the Gorgon, Medusa, turned from a beautiful nymph into a monster by Athena, as an irrational punishment for her having been raped by Poseidon, in Athena’s temple. Classical authors differ in the details of the events but all concur on how Perseus, killed Medusa, who had the ability to turn anyone looking at her into stone. Medusa’s head was then brought to Athena, who wore it on her breastplate as her protective aegis. Here, Imara “wears” Geandy, as he appears in a mirror photographing her, with the Virgin of Cuba looking on, protecting them. As Cuba’s patroness, La Virgén de la Caridad, saved a group of sailors in a boat, who represented the racial admixtures of the Americas – European, Indigenous and African. In a Catholic context, La Virgén de la Caridad is the protective aspect of the Virgin Mary. In the context of the syncretic tradition that combines the Yoruba/African Orishas (deities) with Catholic saints and the Virgin, Virgén de la Caridad merges with Oshún, the Orisha who guards the waters and love and fertility and purification and who cares for her mixed Latin American children.

day 3 - perseus and medusa

Mirror imagery recurred in lockdown, with Classical mythology, in two turns on the Classical myth of Narcissus, the boy, who so loved himself that he forsook the love of the nymph. Heartbroken Echo dwindled, abandoned, into an existence marked by her inability to initiate communication. She could only reflect the sounds of others. On Day 7 (Echo & Narcissus) appeared in Imara’s kitchen sink. 

day 7 - echo & narcissus

On Day 38 (Untitled) they returned, in a fake pond, built of fake flowers, placed on a wooden floor, into which Geandy gazes, as Imara reclines, in a pose of longing. Self-absorption and desire that becomes erasure … themes that coincide with the effects of isolation in a quarantined world.

day 38 - untitled

On Day 18 (Pandora), Day 20 (Venus), and Day 27 (Dánae) appeared in lockdown. Two women and a goddess, represented in key moments of their stories. Pandora, the woman created by the Hephaestus, on orders from Zeus, to bring evil to the world so that humanity would not become too powerful. Hesiod (750-560 B.C.) tells the story best, in his Works and Days and his Theogony, as he recounts how the opening of Pandora’s box released sickness and death and a plague of numerous unspecified evils. Hope, the element that keeps humanity persevering in the face of adversity remained in the box to provide amelioration for the released evils. 

day 18 - pandora

More mythologies entered into “Quarantine,” with Danäe, daughter of Acrisius, who had been prophetically warned his daughter would give birth to a son, who would kill him. To escape his fate, Acrisius locked Danäe in a tower, where Zeus visited her as a shower of golden rain. She gave birth to Perseus, slayer of Medusa. Later, Perseus would accidentally kill Acrisius, with a quoit, during an athletic competition.

day 18 - Dánae and the golden rain

Venus, goddess of love, fertility, beauty, desire, prosperity and victory sustains and creates, appearing in many guises and decreeing diverse fates to those who fall under her influence. No mythology could exist without her and it is she who for good or ill inspires the events of the world. But Venus too is linked to plague, as she is the goddess who is associated with venereal diseases.

day 20 - venus

On Day 28 (Odysseus And The Siren), Geandy became Odysseus, bound to a chair so that he could resist the dreaded Siren, who would tempt Odysseus into disaster, with her beautiful song. Imara’s siren, materialized on the edge of the kitchen sink, dressed in silver lamè aluminum foil, as she sang to Odysseus, bound to his chair. Was her song alluring or was it pure torture? The myth and the image leave that to the audience’s imagination...

day 28 - odysseus and the siren