Greece’s Central Archaeological Council has given its approval for a horseback parade through central Athens, planned as the opening event of the international exhibition ‘documenta 14′ on April 6. The Council drew a line, however, at the organizers’ request to use miniature Skyrian ponies.
“The horses taking part must be of normal size,” the Council members said in a unanimous decision on Tuesday, refusing to accept the organizers’ claim that the horses depicted on the Parthenon frieze — which the event seeks to ‘”recreate” — were of small size.
“The people and the horses on the Parthenon frieze have a certain proportion. The horses there are large, they are not ponies,” the Council members said.
The parade will start on the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian road that circles the Acropolis, near Aghia Sophia Church, and end when it reaches Parliament, where it will mark the start of the exhibition. The procession, which will serve as the flagship event for documenta, will have 12 horses and riders, while organizers expect that the public following the procession will help create a festive atmosphere for both the event and the exhibition. It aims to serve as a symbolic correlation, presenting a contemporary image of the procession of horsemen depicted on the Parthenon frieze.
The event will not only mark the start of the international art exhibition “documenta 14” held in Kassel, Germany every five years — and this year also simultaneously taking place in Athens for the first time — it will also mark the start of a 100-day horseback journey covering 1,850 miles, from Athens to Kassel, passing through the western Balkan countries such as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia and Slovenia.
Organizers said that this forms part of a tradition of lengthy horseback rides in Europe and the world, inspired by the work “Tschiffely’s Ride” by Swiss author Aimé Félix Tschiffely, describing his own horseback journey from Buenos Aires to New York in 1928. Among the horses making the journey to Kassel will be a horse of Greek breed named Hermes. The coordinator of the documenta 14 exhibitions in Athens, Melina Spathari, noted that the name of the “god of crossing borders” was not a chance selection but symbolized the movement of populations and Greece’s strategic significance in this movement.