The Unraveling of Penelope

Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus in the epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus has been gone on his journey for ten years and is presumed dead, Penelope is left to deal with a hoard of suitors all wanting her hand in marriage-and her husband's wealthy. To delay her remarriage, Penelope tells her suitors that she will not choose a future husband until she has finished weaving a burial shroud for her father-in-law. Each day for three years she weaves the shroud, and each evening, unseen, she carefully unweaves it.

The new installation "Penelope" by artist Tatiana Blass in the Chapel of Morumbi in São Paulo, Brazil, celebrates this power of love as well as weaving itself. Inside the chapel, on the altar sits a loom. Out of one side of the loom is a red carpet heading towards the door. On the other side of the loom is chaos: the woolen threads tangle with one another as they lead outside of the chapel through holes in the wall to cover the yard outside in a sea of red. Ultimately, the viewer is left to wonder: is the carpet being woven or, like Penelope's never-finished shroud, is it being unraveled.

Photo by Everton Ballardin;
courtesy of Tatiana Blass


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