I came to Ithaka for the first time in 2009. And I would always spend time with the old fishermen. And they would all tell me the same story as my father. He left the island when he was 14. And they were all working to come back to the island in their old age, like the Odyssey, their odyssey. I understood by talking to all these old fishermen, old men and women, that they all have the same story, of the actual islands, which is mythology of Ulysses and the Odyssey, so I decided to do a project after my studies on the fishermen, bringing mythology into really of everyday life.
I thought I would come home after like two years and then it just ended up going longer and longer. And so I began the odyssey, my own odyssey, about 11 years ago. It’s been very hard for my family to accept this.
I was back and forth to university, studying fashion design and then print and time-based media, but it was the same shit as my family. They were basically telling me what I could and couldn’t do and it wasn’t freedom of speech. The staff at University of the Arts London (UAL) never understood how I create - in spontaneous moments. It was too chaotic for them. It didn’t fit their ridged lines of how people should create and for what reasons to create. I can only create when I feel free.
So I left and went to Germany and worked for an artist and fashion designer called Johnny Daul. I said to my self that if I can’t do my own work, I’ll dedicate myself to true artists. He is living his work. And without realizing, me following him brought me back to me. He was more of a spiritual teacher for me. One day he sat me down and asked me where do you want to go in the world? And for some strange, God known reason, I said England again. And he said, “Well, you’re leaving at 7 o’clock this evening and you’ll be given 20 Euros and you’re going to take everything I’ve taught you and you’re going to make it happen.” He gave me merchandise and products and he said, “Now make it happen.”
Many times in my life, I’ve cut my life up and just started with nothing, so that’s when I decided to go back to university in England – because I kept having dreams about closing circles. But I didn’t have any money and while I was working on projects to get accepted for loans and grants, I was evicted from my house. And I fell into a depression worst than any other I had experienced. So I tried to use my camera to help me express the low and highs and how to alchemize this situation I was in … I was trying to use it to create in a different way, not documentary at all.
Then in August, my boyfriend and I almost drowned in the sea at Brighton. We were caught in a rip tide and I had to fight him off me and leave him behind because he was hanging onto me and pulling me down. I remember that time opens up in these moments and I saw every muscle from my head to my hands to my tippy toes holding on for my life once I finally had a grip on the stony shore. My boyfriend was rescued but after that experience, he started getting violent with me.
“Oh my God, I’ve got to run for my life now.”
I decided to come to Ithaca, where my father grew up and there’s still my family home. And when I was packing my boyfriend was screaming and shouting and throwing things around. I literally came to Ithaca in these shoes and I didn’t even have any other shoes but these. I had no winter clothes. I had nothing. When I came here in September I thought I would be safe and things would be fine. But then my family started with their shit. When I came to Ithaca, that’s when my real shit started. Literally, just like Ulysses, after 20 years of … And then his problems just worsened. And the same thing’s happened to me.
So I’ve been rising up from one situation to the next. Learning how to alchemize. The biggest thing is learning to transcend a moment until you can actually live that at place of transcendence. I wouldn’t put it as far as enlightenment, but I’ve been learning how to really see the bigger picture beyond me, where I used to be. “They’re the enemies and they treat me like this” … It all became one in the end because without them doing that to me, I wouldn’t have a story. So I ended up sitting back watching my whole life as a show, as a play. And I allowed everything to happen and I have so much love for everyone I don’t stop sending it out. Love at the end of the day is the only thing that saves us. And true love.
These experiences made me realize that the more honest and open we are about our situation, the more we’re helping and healing each other. And I thought, "Why don’t you use your own life as an example of following your own truth, no matter what and just use it like that." So that’s when the direction changed. And I thought, oh my God, Therina, you’re really on the odyssey. “These messages have to get out.”
The thing is, I’m in the moment, I’m learning as well as the audience. We’re in it together. The creations I’ve been doing out here have been my best work yet, because I have the space to do so.
Basically the project is the odyssey of the soul, the odyssey of the soul coming to your own home. Your true home because we all are refuges in our own heart until we come to our home.
I’ve been searching for my home within myself. And I believe when I open these gates within myself, I’m opening them for others to not be afraid of going on their journey because I’m already showing them what it entails. And it’s not a pretty picture. And so it’s very raw and unconventional.
I’ve come to realize my purpose and it’s not about the destination at all, it’s about the journey, about being present in every moment and understanding the beauty in everything because perfection isn’t defined by the people. Perfection is what you find within yourself. If you can live in that perfection it’s like being in an invisible bubble of universal love that is so unconditional.
Look, if you come from the point of view that everyone is connected on a subconscious, subterranean level … Because initially I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is all about me and my life.” But at the end of the day, I’ve given my life up, it’s not like I’ve chosen it, I’ve just followed my truth and I’ve been so loyal to it. So in doing that, you’re automatically connecting with that subterranean level. It’s not out of your own selfish needs that you’re doing it, or your own selfish purpose … People can learn truth when they see it and see truth when they feel it. It’s connecting all these dots together through everyone you meet and through the stories of how I translate them. It all becomes a whole piece of everyone’s life at the end of the day, I believe.
It’s going to be a documentary with a series of episodes. It’s going to be my artistic practice. I believe that life and art are all one anyway. Life is a performance even if you’re washing your clothes and the more we live in that perspective, magical moments happen all around. I definitely believe in magic.
Yiannis, dear friend of Therina, is already 85 years old and from his recorded words, his best part of life is now! Which is last 35 years, since he reached his goal and came back from Australia. He left at the age of 24 to earn money since his ”homeland" was devastated by war. He married in Australia to Totis who came along with him. His first jobs were in the rail company, but his real business was green grocery shop. "Australia is the best country, because the laws are equal for all, not like in Greece”. His vision was to earn money and restore what he had and he scudded. After the war, Yiannis like others, was trying to get work on the ship. But since he was a part of a communist party he could not get on Onassis ship like many others from the Itaka island. Yiannis, also now, does not regret that he was against capitalism. His wish is to stay healthy “I don’t want money, I don’t want anything, I am happy as I am now and when my time comes … to go streight away, quick, not to the hospital, not to the ambulance at all”.
As soon as the camera, my small go pro comes up ... That’s the thing with people over here... for me the most magical moments I have with people on the island I can never catch with the camera. So it always relates to me retelling the story. Because they don’t ... It’s like people don’t do anything on the island ... That’s what I love about them. And they don’t want to be seen really and that’s what I frickin’ love about them.