intermission museum of art | ima may-june 2022 ouroboros ayesha kamal khan + catalina tuca + joshua j. araujo + mariangela ciccarello curated by john ros

marlea and apollo

marlea was a beautiful girl from athens. she had a very sweet voice but above all she enjoyed composing verses and singing them, accompanied by the delicate sound of her lyre. one day, while she was bathing, singing carefree in a cove along the sea, she was overheard by the god apollo who, intrigued by her sublime verses, drew nearer. when he saw her, he was struck by her grace and so dazzled by the sweetness of her features that her verses seemed even more beautiful to him. the god, possessed by love, approached the young woman. when he was very close and marlea was about to see him, he became invisible except for his eyes, which he transformed into two shining sparks. marlea saw them and fell in love immediately, spending hours and hours contemplating them.

the next day, the girl, who had not slept thinking about what had happened, returned to the cove in search of the two sparks and found them exactly where she had left them. from then on, marlea began to go to the cove every day, contemplating the sparks and composing sublime verses for them. the god apollo contemplated her in return, invisible and inebriated by her poetry. for months, this secret routine was a source of immense joy for both. this lasted until the god felt that he wanted more, that he could no longer live without touching her silken skin or kissing her honey lips.

one afternoon, he manifested himself to the girl, took on the features that were his own, and made her his. however, even after having possessed her, apollo was still in love, perhaps even more than before and could not accept to allow marlea to return to her mortal life. he thus decided to transform her into a pristine marble statue which he took to the highest point of olympus so that all could admire it. marlea, sublimely beautiful in her motionless features, had however lost her gift, and could no longer compose her verses. on full moon nights, her tears – and sometimes her sad poetry – could be heard at the cove where everything began.

one of those nights, that of the spring equinox, when the day and the night are exactly the same length, and during which gods and mortals join in bacchic rituals, the muses, who were near the cove, inebriated by wine and celebrations, heard marlea’s moans, recognized the sweetness of her voice, the skill and depth of her verses and decided to help her. that same night, they dissolved the spell made by apollo and transformed marlea from a statue into the sound of the sea.

epilogue: apollo was devastated when marlea disappeared and missed her greatly. since then, every night he sits on a rock near the sea to hear her sublime voice. during full moon nights, he takes his lyre out and recites her verses of desperate love.

intermission museum of art | ima may-june 2022 ouroboros ayesha kamal khan + catalina tuca + joshua j. araujo + mariangela ciccarello curated by john ros

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