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Church Treasures of Cyprus > The case of Saint Euphemianos, Lysi September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Cyprus, Cyprus Occupied.
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As promised in one of my latest Editorials, posted after my return from my summer holidays in Cyprus, I have many things to tell and write about my trip to the island. Among them, the pillage and salvation of the Byzantine heritage of Cyprus and in fact, about the case of Saint Euphemianos Church in Lysi village.

Lysi is currently under turkish military control and occupation (since July 1974) in the northern part of The Republic of Cyprus.

One of my afternoons while in Cyprus, was spent visiting the new chapel of Saint Euphemianos and its small museum. The people of Lysi and the Cyprus Scouts Organisation jointly constructed a new chapel in Kornos (next to the Boy Scouts Training Centre Camp), dedicated to Saint Euphemianos, modelled on the pillaged Byzantine chapel in occupied Lysi.

The entire building, chapel and exhibition space, apart from a place of worship, also offers itself for remembrance events and is a public denunciation of the pillaging of Cyprus’ cultural heritage.

In the case of Saint Euphemianos, the entire church was plundered under the tolerance of the so-called “turkish republic of northern cyprus”. The adventure of the murals, which eventually salvaged, restored and reconstructed, are now housed as a unified whole in a replica of the chapel at the Menil Foundation and Museum in Texas, USA, offers itself to publicity and substantiates the charge against attempts made by turks to distort the cultural identity of Cyprus’ occupied lands.

In the article below (from the Archeaology magazine) you will read all the story about the pillage and the salvation of this cultural identity. You will also observe various photos of church treasures of Cyprus (one of these you can also view at our Flickr photo album).

After the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkish forces in 1974, looters stripped the region’s churches, removing several dozen major frescoes and mosaics dating from the sixth to the fifteenth century, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 icons, and thousands of chalices, wood carvings, crucifixes, and bibles. Recovery efforts by the Church of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus have resulted in the return of some pieces through acquisition, trial, and seizure.

A major break came this past October when Munich police arrested 60-year-old Aydin Dikman, a central figure in the looting and selling of the church treasures. The cooperation of Dikman’s former associate, Dutch art dealer Michel van Rijn, with Cypriot and German authorities made the arrest possible. By his own account, van Rijn, who claims descent from both Rembrandt and Rubens and has been convicted in France of forging Chagall’s signature, had realized the error of his ways and wished to make amends by helping recover the artworks.

In apartments owned and rented by Dikman, police found Cypriot frescoes, mosaics, and icons, ancient coins, Precolumbian pottery, stolen paintings, and an unauthenticated Picasso. Police estimate the artworks and artifacts to be worth more than $60 million. If convicted of possessing and trafficking in stolen goods, Dikman faces up to 15 years in jail in Germany. Cyprus has requested his extradition.

Dikman’s participation in the depredation of Cypriot heritage in the occupied part of the island was suspected as early as 1982, when reporter Mehmet Yasin, in the Turkish Cypriot weekly magazine Olay, identified him as an antiquities smuggler. It was not until 1989 that the extent of his role became somewhat clearer through testimony in the Goldberg case, a legal battle in federal court in Indianapolis over Byzantine mosaics from Cyprus. That nearly nine years passed before his arrest can be explained partly by Dikman’s efforts to keep a low profile, working through dealers and seldom meeting directly with those who purchased items from him. Furthermore, those who knew that he was selling looted Cypriot artworks did not reveal his identity to authorities out of fear of personal retribution, concern that antiquities would be destroyed to do away with evidence, or unwillingness to jeopardize potential future acquisitions.

There have been three major recoveries of church treasures, and in each case the artworks, particularly the frescoes and mosaics, have been damaged and are in urgent need of conservation.

The first recovery came in the mid-1980s when the Menil Foundation of Houston, with Cypriot government and church authority approval, purchased from Dikman the thirteenth-century frescoes of Christ Pantokrator (“All Sovereign”) and the Virgin with the archangels Michael and Gabriel from the Church of St. Themonianos near the village of Lysi. In June 1983 Dominique de Menil, Walter Hopps (then director of the Menil Collection), and Yanni Petsopoulos, a London dealer acting as an intermediary, met Dikman in Munich and examined two fresco fragments in one of his apartments. Dikman claimed the frescoes were from a ruined church in southern Turkey that was bulldozed during construction of a resort. They suspected that Dikman was lying, and in late June, the foundation engaged Herbert Brownell, a former United States attorney general, to investigate the legality of the acquisition. Brownell sent an inquiry letter and photographs of the frescoes to eight countries in lands once part of the Byzantine Empire. On September 6, 1983, Cyprus replied, identifying them as coming from the Church of St. Themonianos. De Menil contacted Vassos Karageorghis, then director of Cyprus’ department of antiquities. By November 11, an understanding was reached whereby the Menil Foundation would acquire and restore the frescoes on behalf of the Church of Cyprus, which would then lend them to the foundation for an extended period.

The fragments were sent from Munich to London, where conservator Laurence J. Morrocco worked on them. The fresco of Christ Pantokrator had been cut from the church dome in 26 pieces, the Virgin from the apse in 12. Restoring them was nearly impossible because there were no measurements of the original structure (the church, in a military zone in the occupied area, was considered inaccessible), and the fresco fragments had lost their original curvature. To reconstruct the dome and apse, it was first necessary to determine their exact size and shape, then the appropriate curvature could be restored to the fragments so they would fit together on the curved surfaces. The process took three and one-half years.

In November 1987, as the restoration was nearing completion, Morrocco traveled to occupied Cyprus and surreptitiously visited the church to measure the dome and apse. He described what he found in a 1991 account of his work:

It was very strange for me to see the place where the frescoes had come from. It was as if it had just happened: the saw cuts were still visible in the plaster left behind when the fragments were ripped off. I could see how the thieves had cut crudely around the circumference of the base of the dome, leaving the angels’ ankles and feet on the wall. Small pieces of the fresco lay scattered around the floor amidst dirt, straw, and sheep droppings.

Once the frescoes were reassembled, decisions had to be made about treating the damaged areas. The saw cuts were restored as invisibly as possible, but the larger missing areas, such as those around the base of the dome and in the lower part of the apse, were filled in with a dark color.

In April 1988, the reconstructed dome and apse frescoes were packed into large crates for the flight to Houston. In November 1997, nearly 14 years after they were bought from Dikman, the restored frescoes, housed in a specially constructed chapel consecrated by Archbishop Chrysostomos I, were put on display. According to a deposition taken for the Goldberg trial, Petsopoulos had offered the frescoes to the foundation for $850,000; the final price has not been disclosed. The conservation costs, according to Cypriot sources, were about $1 million.

Read more at > Special Report: Church Treasures of Cyprus

Related Links > http://www.menil.org/ and http://www.menil.org/byzantine.html

Now read this! Now pixel this! September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Born on 13 October 2003. Already counting 5 past issues while issue 6 is coming soon. Stories in black and white. Innovative content. Great comics. Pure magic. Indulging all of your senses. Exciting imagination.

A magazine of local Greek Cypriot and international creative people aiming to waive your brains. Do not be afraid though. Their cause is good.

They express ideas and thoughts, some also express their personal experiences. They aim to bring together voices to unleash feelings, concepts, desires, experiments, thoughts and questions.

The group of people at ‘PIXEL THIS’ magazine is such a case. They transform the black and white pages of their fanzine with imagination that overflows from each page of text, every illustration, and every photo, with finely balanced illustrations that astound and transfix you, with language that is sharp, alive but also poetic when needed. The bimonthly ‘PIXEL THIS’ stands out from the swamp of boredom and uniformity. In just two issues the group from Nicosia mock and ridicule couch potatoes, televised boredom, apathy, the police state of terror, upstarts, and the general Cypriot attitude toward current events.

No sponsors, no advertising, no extras. just sheer hard work and passion for what they do! And as they state in their additional notes “Uncensored, unedited, uncut, undo!”

Target audience > Anyone who’s listening
Theme > Every issue will have a theme that all contributing artists (local & international) will work towards.
Magazine Format > Black & white, photocopied, staple bind, in plastic sleeve and sealed with paper sticker
Objective > PIXEL THIS zine is a communication medium that aims to bring together voices to unleash feelings, concepts, desires, experiments, thoughts and questions.
PIXELTHIS is an independent zine published in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Pixel This’ primary intention is, in their own words, “to help the art movement get off its fat, stubborn lazy ass… that’s not just the art movement that’s around at the time, it’s a whole culture of people who ignore their creative impulses…The zine intends to push a little and help release the creative urge in anyone and everyone.”

Here’s an interview back in 2004

Related Links > http://www.pixelthiszine.com

Pantheon Urbansoul Festival 1.0 September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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A collective event celebrating artistic diversity, organised by the Pantheon Cultural Association, covering the music, arts, multimedia and publishing scenes.

Saturday, September 30th 2006, from 12pm until 12am.

An open-air festival in the center of Nicosia, Cyprus, in the park of Eleftheria Square. Entrance is free to the public.

For further information > Tel 22 670843



The Hellenic Community of Montreal celebrates 100th anniversary September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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The Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM) is celebrating its 100th anniversary – a milestone that reflects the extensive history of Greeks in Montreal and their contribution to the development of their city.

Dear Reader,

We have received by email the following Press Release from HCM and we are pleased to publish it (text follows in both English and Greek language).

At this opportunity we send our greetings and sincerest wishes to HCM Presidency and to all the Greek people in Montreal as well as in Canada, for best success of the exhibition and our congratulations for their 100th anniversary.


“Testimonies and Images of the 1940 Epic”

The Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM) in collaboration with the Historical War Museum of Greece, within the framework of the festivities of the HCM Centennial, presents a museum exposition covering the period of the 1940 Albanian Campaign, as well as aspects of World War II period of 1940-44 in general. The exposition includes photographs, posters, artworks by Greek and other artists inspired from the events of the said epoch, uniforms, archives, documentaries, and caricatures. Simultaneously, at the exposition hall area, projections of a variety of Greek film will take place pertinent to the theme of the exhibit.  

The active, victoriously effective and quite costly, in terms of human life and infrastructure, participation of Greece in the second Word War against the Axis Forces marks a pivotal historical moment of the last 100 years of existence of HCM. It is to be noted, however, that the arrival of this Historical War Museum of Greece exposition materials should be of great interest not only to the Greek Community itself but to Canadian Society at large. 

The HCM lived quite closely the historical moment of Greece entering Word War II siding with the Allied Forces with massive Community mobilization, extensive and uninterrupted fund-raising activities during the entire War and last, but not least, with massive  participation of Greek-Canadians in the Commonwealth Armed Forces. In particular, a large number of Greek Canadians fought within the ranks of the Canadian Navy and Air Force.

The participation of land and naval British and Commonwealth forces in the Greek mainland campaigns against the Axis and, later, in the battle of Crete- where the elite Nazi paratroopers were , essentially, neutralized for the rest of war as a credible striking force-  makes the event of great interest to our non-Greek Canadian compatriots who shared the same values. 

The exposition will take place in the Main Hall of the Hellenic Community Center, 5757 Wilderton Ave. in Montreal, and will remain open to the public from the 16th of September 2006 till the 15th of October 2006. Visiting hours are: Weekdays 3.00 p.m-8.00 p.m. and weekends 11.00 a.m-8.00 p.m. In addition special visits can be organized for Groups, such as Schools. The entrance will be free to all.

For information, please, call (514)738-2421, Ext. 123.

Hellenic Community of Montreal
5777 Wilderton Ave., Montrel, QCH3S 2V7
Tel.: (514) 738-2421 – Fax: (514) 738-5466

Related Link > http://www.hcm-chm.org/MS/MS9/page.php

Greek text follows >



«Μαρτυρίες και Εικόνες Εποποιίας 1940»

H Ελληνική Κοινότητα του Μόντρεαλ σε συνεργασία με το Πολεμικό Μουσείο της Ελλάδος, στα πλαίσια του εορτασμού των 100 χρόνων της ΕΚΜ, παρουσιάζουν έκθεση που καλύπτει την περίοδο 1940-44 του Β΄ Παγκοσμίου πολέμου, με έμφαση στο Αλβανικό Έπος του 1940. Η έκθεση περιλαμβάνει φωτογραφίες, αφίσες, έργα τέχνης Ελλήνων και ξένων καλλιτεχνών εμπνευσμένων από τα γεγονότα της εποχής, στολές, αρχειακό υλικό, ντοκιμαντέρ και γελοιογραφίες. Παράλληλα στον ίδιο χώρο θα προβάλλονται ελληνικές ταινίες σχετικές με το θέμα της έκθεσης.

Η συμμετοχή της Ελλάδος στον αγώνα των ελεύθερων λαών κατά του Ναζισμού και του Φασισμού, και ο ηρωισμός των Ελλήνων στα πεδία των μαχών αποτελούν το κορυφαίο γεγονός του Ελληνικού Έθνους στα 100 Χρόνια ζωής της ΕΚΜ. Γι’ αυτό, η έλευση του ιστορικού αυτού υλικού, που εκτίθεται για πρώτη φορά εκτός Ελλάδος, με την αμέριστη συνεργασία του Υπουργείου Εθνικής Άμυνας της Ελλάδος και του Πολεμικού Μουσείου, αποτελεί εκδήλωση ιδιαίτερου ενδιαφέροντος τόσο για την Ελληνική Κοινότητα και παροικία του Μόντρεαλ, όσο και για τους Καναδούς συμπολίτες μας  γενικότερα.

Η Ελληνική παροικία του Μόντρεαλ βίωσε έντονα τις κομβικές, για το Ελληνικό Έθνος και  την παγκόσμια κοινότητα, ιστορικές στιγμές του Β’ Παγκοσμίου πολέμου. Η ηρωική εμπλοκή της Ελλάδος στο πλευρό των συμμάχων και οι Ελληνικές νίκες κατά του Άξονα, ξεσήκωσαν μαζικές κινητοποιήσεις στη μικρή τότε Ελληνική παροικία του Μόντρεαλ με συλλογή χρηματικής και υλικής βοήθειας για τον αγωνιζόμενο Ελληνικό λαό, αλλά και μαζική στράτευση των Καναδών Ελληνικής καταγωγής στις τάξεις των Ενόπλων Δυνάμεων της Βρετανικής Κοινοπολιτείας. Ειδικά, πολλοί Καναδοί Ελληνικής καταγωγής κατατάγηκαν στο ναυτικό και την αεροπορία του Καναδά.

Η σημαντική συμμετοχή Βρετανικών και εν γένει Κοινοπολιτειακών χερσαίων και ναυτικών Δυνάμεων τόσο στις επιχειρήσεις της Ηπειρωτικής Ελλάδος όσο και στη μετέπειτα άμυνα της νήσου Κρήτης, μιας άμυνας που ουσιαστικά εξουδετέρωσε τη Ναζιστική δύναμη αιχμής των αλεξιπτωτιστών, καθιστά την περίοδο αυτή και τα συναφή εκθέματα εξίσου ενδιαφέροντα  για τους συμπατριώτες μας και συναγωνιστές μας συμμάχους Καναδούς πολίτες.  

Η έκθεση θα γίνει στην Μεγάλη Αίθουσα του Ελληνικού Κοινοτικού Κέντρου, 5757 Wilderton Avenue, Montreal.  Θα είναι ανοικτή από τις 16 Σεπτεμβρίου 2006 έως 15 Οκτωβρίου, 2006. Ώρες Λειτουργίας καθημερινά 3.00 μ.μ.-8.00 μ.μ. και Σαββατοκύριακα 11.00 π.μ.-8.00 μ.μ. . Για Σχολεία και άλλες ομάδες  μπορούν να οργανωθούν ειδικές επισκέψεις. Η είσοδος θα είναι ελεύθερη. 

Για πληροφορίες: Τηλ. (514) 738-2421, Εσωτ. 123.

Athens ready for top athletes September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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Many of the world’s top athletes will be competing at the 10th World Cup in Athletics in Athens this weekend, as part of a contest between teams representing all the continents.

Teams from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, as well as host Greece, the USA, and three European teams that qualified through the European Cup – Russia (men and women), France (men) and Poland (women).

Leading contestants have declared they will be seeking records at this event, regarded as the Greek capital’s biggest track and field meeting since the 2004 Olympics.

Hoping to draw considerable crowds to the Athens Olympic Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, the event’s organizer, ERT (Greek State Radio and Television) suffered a slight setback earlier in the week due to the news of a couple of high-profile withdrawals.

On Thursday, American sprinter Marion Jones, a five-time Olympic medalist, said she would not be competing because her fitness was not up to standard. Jones missed over a month of competition after testing positive for the banned endurance enhancer EPO. The 30-year-old sprinter was cleared to run again when her second sample tested negative.

Earlier in the week, Jamaican Asafa Powell, the world co-record holder in the men’s 100 meters, said he had decided to stick to the relay. American Tyson Gay now rates as the favorite in the individual sprint.

Highlighting the insecurities felt by local officials and athletes over attendance figures at this world-class event, a midweek news conference in Athens was dominated by the turnout issue.

Journalists at the news conference criticized ERT for delaying its promotional campaign. Greek athlete Pericles Iakovakis, the reigning European champion in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, contended that ERT journalists had failed to promote the World Cup in its preceding track and field broadcasts.

Thessaloniki mulls its role in the future September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Transport Air Sea Land.
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After many years of announcements, broken promises and procrastination by successive governments as well as endless litigation among rival construction companies, large projects for Thessaloniki are entering the implementation phase.

The projects include a metro rail line, an extension to the airport, a redesignation of port facilities, an underwater road artery and a research and innovation park.

Nevertheless, questions do arise: The projects now starting with a delay of about 20 years were envisaged within the framework of the 1985 city development plan. Will they be adequate for a city with a now much larger population and a considerably different housing pattern from today in 30 or 40 years’ time, or are they just palliatives for the medium term?

Objections are already being raised regarding the necessity of the underwater road artery, the location of the airport, and the adequacy of the metro line and other smaller projects that are to make the larger ones more functional.

Precious time has been lost and problems have become pressing. Thessaloniki is now one of the most atmospherically polluted cities in the European Union; traffic congestion is increasing and quality of life declining.

Authorities seem to be responding to such concerns, promoting a updating of the city development and zoning plan, with a view to laying the basis for Thessaloniki to become a metropolis for the southern Balkans and bolstering its international character.

“The projects under way may be a help to development but do not provide a lever for economic growth as such, the key to which is innovation,” says professor of architecture and town planning Alexandros Lagopoulos.

A new, revised zoning plan must first and foremost provide a clear vision for the city on which the various development scenaria may be based, he argues.

“What kind of a city do we want the Thessaloniki of the future to be: A European metropolis, a metropolis of the Balkans or just a large provincial urban center in northern Greece?” he asks. “Its evolution into a Balkan metropolis presupposes extensive changes at the economic and cultural levels, while the scenario of the European metropolis requires a huge leap in innovation. Legislation now in the works is an important step but it must be implemented in the immediate future to yield results, with a parallel restructuring of the economy.”

Realizing an ambitious plan would require the development of many more areas, such as the city’s port, in order to attract foreign companies. “If the changes required do not make progress immediately, then the scenario most likely to be realized is that of Thessaloniki remaining a regional city of northern Greece. Evidently, however, neither the political nor the ideological targets for the city are tuned to such an ambitious upgrading of its role,” he says.

Royal guest drops by for ‘Bayadere’ at Herodion September 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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Princess Christina of Sweden was in Athens for one day to see «La Bayadere» performed by the Royal Ballet of Sweden at the Herod Atticus Theater.

The Princess is a patron of the company and she came to applaud the first of three performances.

The choreography by renowned ballerina Natalia Makarova was based on the original choreography by Marius Petipa. The costumes were by Theoni Vachlioti-Aldredge, whose costumes for «The Great Gatsby» won an Oscar. Makarova looked moved by the congratulations of the Princess.

The performances were held to celebrate the 60th birthday of UNESCO.