EFFEA Story: Ermoupolis Psychogeographic Guide

Residency of Ban Lei, presented by Eye’s Walk Digital Festival in partnership with PASSAGE·Festival & LEME - Circo contemporâneo

Ban Lei

From 26 to 30 July, the Eye’s Walk Digital Festival brought together Syros residents and international artists to co-create the psycho-geographic map of Ermoupolis. The journey began along the coast from Nisaki to Tarsana, a shipyard where small boats and fishing vessels find refuge. 

As part of the Ermoupolis festival edition, Psychogeographic Guide (coastline), participants were encouraged to challenge conventional narratives and common perceptions about the city. They were invited to embrace their own emotions and soak up the city atmosphere, often overlooked by its inhabitants. As noted by Guy Debord, “cities have psycho-geographical contours, with constant streams of movement, fixed points and fixed angles, which discourage entry or exit from certain zones”. The creative and playful approach allowed the audience to connect with the emotional essence of Ermoupoli along its picturesque coastal stretch. 

As part of the festival, EFFEA Artist Ban Lei presented a site-specific sound performance at the Kyveli Institute called "153 Returning Birds". The performance acted as the end yet meeting point of an historic walk that wove together oral histories by the island's inhabitants with stories of women who lived in Εrmoupolis in the 19th century. 

“The wind travels 8,000 miles without asking for a date of return” is a proverb passed down in Chinese folklore, meaning that the wind is tireless and aimless from the moment it is born, travelling all the way. The wind is tireless and cannot be controlled. As for the date of return, it may have been thought of, but forgotten. In the “Nissaki” area there is always the whizzing sound of the wind hitting the buildings through the Aegean Sea. Besides the sound of the wind, there are some returning birds. Do they come back with the wind from far away?” 

The stories and feelings around the Port are like birds. And Ban Lei called 153 sounding “birds” back during his performance.