THE biggest and longest art event celebrating James Joyce’s Ulysses as one of the great European novels at the moment.
Inspired by Joyce’s controversial masterpiece, which was directly inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses European Odyssey (UEO) is an ambitious civic and cultural project uniting 18 cities in 16 partner countries across Europe and culminating in Ireland in June 2024.
Partner cities Athens, Trieste, Vilnius, Budapest, Marseille, Paris, Berlin, San Sebastian, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis, Oulu, Lisbon, Dublin and Derry have been asked to participate in a chapter of the Joyce novel. .
The project is specified in three Acts, one per year between 2022 and 2024, and 18 ‘scenes’. The events will unfold in each associated city in the chronological order of the day depicted in the novel. Inspired by Joyce’s belief in public space as a civilizing influence, there is a focus on every event that interacts with a public space.
Each city will create art events and symposiums that respond to contemporary social issues identified in each episode of the book. Topics explored include migration, democracy, mental health, environmental pollution, our sacred sea, gender freedom, coexistence, urban renewal, citizenship, neighborhoods, and freedom of expression, among others.
UEO launched in Athens at the end of September with Sing To Us O Muse, a performance by Hothouse Flowers singer Liam Ó Maonlaí and Greek folk singer Chrysoula Kechagioglou, and an interactive workshop titled Seawards with the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum.
The events continued in Budapest on September 29 with Calypso, the first art and society workshop symposium on the role of neighborhood communities in a post-Coivd Europe, and in Marseille on October 1 with the main public art event for UEO Act. I, We All Fall / Récit, a multidisciplinary participatory performance on the theme of immigration created by artists Gethan Dick and Myles Quin.
Project events for 2022 continue on November 4 in Trieste with a symposium exploring the weight of history, before concluding in Athens at the end of November with a sound installation, film screening and concert.
The cycle of 18 art and society symposiums taking place in the partner cities will generate 309 questions (referring to Ulysses, episode 17) to create a new manifesto for the future of arts and society in Europe. The project also features 30 artist residencies that will contribute to the creation of a new book, Europa-Ulysses, along with 18 new writing commissions, one writer from each city.
With special funding of €1.72 million from the European Commission’s Creative Europe fund, the total €3 million project is co-led by Seán Doran and Liam Browne of Arts Over Borders in Ireland as lead artistic partners, along with Claudia Woolgar of Stitching Brave New World Producties in the Netherlands as lead partner.
In awarding its application grant to the 18 partner cities, Creative Europe wrote: “The need to rediscover Joyce’s Ulysses as a European masterpiece with a powerful contemporary message is particularly well delineated. The project excellently addresses the cross-cutting themes of social inclusion, diversity and gender equality through the set of actions dedicated mainly to these issues”.
Commenting on the launch of the two-year project now almost three years in the making, Seán Doran and Liam Browne said: “James Joyce viewed the city as the true repository of a civilization.
“We hope that the creative journey of Ulysses European Odyssey over the next two years will zigzag, as Homer’s Odysseus and Joyce’s Leopold Bloom did, into a wider Europe of shared debates and performances that will shed light on human complexity, develop new international partnerships, will offer cross-border solutions and stimulate a new active citizenship between the arts and society”.
:: You can find complete information about each WEU city with its project and program dates at ulysseseurope.eu.