Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the
Muse Calliope who grew up in Thrace, a land long noted for the purity and
richness of its divine gift of song. His father presented him with a lyre and
thought him how to play it. So lovely were the songs of Orpheus that even the
wild beasts followed him when he played, and even the trees, the rocks, and the
hills would gather near him. It wass said his music softened the composition of
day his eyes fell on a wood nymph. The girl was called Eurydice, she was
beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamoured by his voice and
such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast
their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two
young people and soon they fell dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment
apart. After a while, they decided to get married.Their wedding day dawned
bright and clear. Hymenaios, the god of marriage, blessed their marriage and
then a great feast followed. The surroundings were filled with laughter and
gaiety until the moment came for the newly-weds to go their own way and depart
was one man who was despising Orpheus and desired Eurydice for his own.
Aristaeus, a shepherd, had plotted a plan to conquer the beautiful nymph. And
there he was, waiting in the bushes for the young couple to pass by. Seeing
that the lovers were approaching, he intended to jump on them and kill Orpheus.
As the shepherd made his move, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and started
running pell-mell through the forest. Suddenly, Orpheus felt Eurydice stumble
and fall, her hand slipping from his grasp. Eurydice had stepped on a nest of
snakes and had been bitten by a deadly viper. Knowing that there was no chance
of survival, Aristaeus had abandoned his try, cursing his luck and Orpheus.
the death of his beloved wife, Orpheus was no more the same carefree person he
used to be. His life without Eurydice seemed endless and he could do nothing
more than grief for her. He decided to go to Underworld and try to get his wife
back. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and voice, Orpheus approached Hades and
demanded entry into the underworld. He played his lyre and sang out to King
Hades and Queen Persephone that Eurydice was returned to him. The voice of
Orpheus was so moving that Hades promised Orpheus that Eurydice would follow
him to the Upper World, the world of the living. However, he warned Orpheus
that for no reason must he look back while his wife was still in the dark, for
that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get
into the light before he looked at her.
great faith in his heart and joy in his song, Orpheus began his journey out of
the underworld, joyful that he would once again be reunited with his love. As
Orpheus was reaching the exit of the Underworld, he could hear the footfalls of
his wife approaching him. The moment he stepped on the world of the living, he
turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of
Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld. When Orpheus
turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the sun and,
as Hades had warned Orpheus, his sweet wife was drowned back to the dark world
of the dead.
From then on, the heart-broken
musician was wandering disoriented, day after day, night after night, in total
despair. His misfortune tormented him, forcing him to abstain from contact with
any other woman and slowly but surely he found himself shunning their company
completely. And so it was that a group of irate women, furious for his scorn
towards them, chanced upon him. The women killed him, cut his body into pieces
and threw them and his lyre into a river. His soul descended down to Hades
where he was finally reunited with his beloved Eurydice.
Orpheus & Eurydice 2011
by the Greek methodology of Orpheus, Heleen Peeters created an installation of
life size photograms.
anonymous persons portrayed in the photograms represent
Eurydice as well as an underlying notion of the shadow, which can be considered
to be an archetype for subconsciously hidden personal qualities. To make this
project the artist encompassed the creative possibilities of light and
chemistry whereby she purposely chose to badly fixate the photograms. This way
the image slowly fades away, whereby the shadows will disappear to
& Eurydice is a manifestation for a longing to a lost half that would make us
complete. This installation of photograms is a melancholic replacement of
something absent, for a longing to make what is, or what will be, reappear,
nevertheless in the end still dies.