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Aldi prepares to enter Greek market March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Europe’s largest retail chain Aldi is preparing to enter the Greek market with an investment of EUR700m (US$923.8m) to create a 370 strong store network.

Aldi has not yet announced whether the Greek chain will operate under the Hoder or Aldi banner, Business Monitor International said. No time frame has been released for market entry.

Aldi currently owns more than 6,600 stores in Europe and reported a 2005 turnover of EUR32.3bn. Germany-based Aldi has made a success of the hard discount format and now has over 6,600 stores across Europe, as well as in Australia and the US.

Aldi stores sell a limited range of products at discounted prices. Until recently Aldi only sold own-brand products, but lately it has been offering a limited number of brands in its German stores.

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

Festival on unexplored art starts tomorrow March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Performance art basks in spotlight of four-day event

The First International Festival of Performance Art, which begins tomorrow at the acclaimed media arts center Bios, will include archival material but will also present contemporary works of performance art by both Greek and international artists.

For years, performance art has remained virtually unexplored in Greece. But the new media arts center Bios hopes to at least draw some curiosity to this form of creativity during a festival that begins tomorrow. The First International Festival of Performance Art, which will run to Saturday, is expected to bring together international and Greek performing artists who are both pioneers in the medium and emerging experimentalists.

The festival will include the presentation of archival material and lectures as well as performances. The initiative belongs to Demosthenes Agrafiotis, who had initially planned for a two-day festival but extended its run after getting backing from Bios.

Performance art emerged around 30 years ago out of the avant-garde movements of the 1960s and became known through the works of artists such as Vito Acconci, Hermann Nitsch, Carolee Scheeman, Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono. Art historians have described it as a form of creative expression that uses the body of the artist as the main conduit of artistic communication. Performance art often combines music, video installations and audience participation to complete the narrative. It is also often based on improvisation and is a flexible form of expression that can be seen in an art gallery or on the street and can last from just a few minutes to several hours. Rawness is a basic characteristic of many performances, as in the case of Marina Abramovic or the Viennese Actionism group. Many art historians link performance art with primitivism and the Dada movement of the early 20th century.

Leda Papaconstantinou was one of the first artists in Greece to get involved in performance art. A tribute to her work will be presented at the festival. The work of other important Greek artists who worked in the medium will also be presented. Besides Papaconstantinou, other artists of the “1970s generation” include Thodoros, Marina Karavella, Semitekolo and Giorgos Lazogas. Performance artists from the 1980s generation include Thanassis Hondros, Alexandra Katsiani and Aris Prodromidis. Emerging artists include Mary Zigouri, Nikos Krionidis, Christina Katsari and Costas Daflos.

The festival will host a number of interesting presentations, including a lecture by Kostis Gouliatis about the music Yannis Christos has composed for the stage. Gouliatis will also present parts of a film documentary that he is preparing for this important Greek composer.

Important performance artists are also expected to participate in the festival, including Chumpon Apisuk, Dragan Ilic, Bartolome Ferrando, Richard Martel and Julien Blaine. Even 80-year-old Jan Swidzinski is set to attend, despite recent health problems.

“He thinks it is his duty to visit Greece, at least once before his life comes to an end” Agrafiotis said of Swidzinski. “Apisuk is a very important artist. His performances have addressed women’s rights, the rights of HIV-infected people and the sexual abuse of children. His work is both politically and socially very active.” Agrafiotis also explained that many of the aforementioned artists have turned over their archives to the organizers of the festival. The aspiration is to make the festival an annual event and to help bring Greek performers into contact with their international peers.

According to Leda Papaconstantinou, performance art “has resurfaced as a complaint. Despite the plurality that characterizes all artistic fields today, the way that art is handled and traded today can be very constricting. This was also true in the 1960s. Back then, performance art emerged as a reaction, a protest against the profit-making venues, galleries or museums, of the time.”

From 1966-1971, Papaconstantinou was in London and experienced firsthand the unrest of the swinging 1960s. “I had to turn 62 years old to see a festival on performance art take place in Greece,” she said. “Although it is really very late, I think that the festival is a very positive initiative. The participating artists are all very serious in their work and so are the organizers. Hopefully, we will all respond with the seriousness that this event is worthy of.”

Papaconstantinou also talks about the corporeal element of performance art. “The artist uses his body as a tool, not however in the way that the actor does. The emphasis is not on beauty but the body as a vehicle that expresses one’s ideology,” she says. “Performance art can often be exaggerated. What I really dislike is when performance art borders on sensationalism, which clearly is not the objective of art.”

She also refers to performance art, for which she cannot find an equivalent term in Greek, as “mercurial, a form of expression that fits everywhere and changes constantly.”

A younger performance artist, Maria Zigouri, also talks about the multidimensional aspect of the medium. “The nice thing about performance art is that it branches out into various fields, for example theater, music or dance,” Zigouri said. “My case is an example; I started out in painting, then moved into installations and at a certain point I realized that my own presence had to be part of a work. I became the object and subject of the work, the director and actor. What is also important about performance art is that it does not rely on speech. Action is how words come through.” Her performances are heavily based on the reaction and participation of the public and, for that reason, do not use a particular structure. Zigouri also says that narcissism is not part of performance art. “A work of performance art can be an act of total humiliation,” she says.

Thanassis Hondros and Alexandra Katsiani, an artistic duo of the 1980s generation, express reservations about whether the festival will help cultivate a new awareness of performance art. They fear that it might lead to thinking of performance art in simplistic, stereotypical terms.

In the past, the performances of Katsiani and Hondros have led their audiences to violent reactions. “Negative reactions are not necessarily bad,” they said. “Reactions express a certain vitality, a readiness that is far preferable to passive indifference… On the other hand, reactions usually communicate narrow-mindedness and a conservative stance that may border on the primitive.”

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival awards March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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More than 35,200 visitors had already viewed films at the 9th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival by the time of the awards ceremony on Saturday, artistic director Dimitris Eipides announced. The festival ended yesterday, after screening 236 films.

The WWF award went to “Loop” (Norway) by Sjur Paulsen. The International Amnesty Award, in the Human Rights Section, went to “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” (USA) by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern. The FIPRESCI prizes for best foreign and Greek productions were won by “Souvenirs” (Israel), directed by Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat, and “Secrets and Lies” by Stavros Stangos (Greece), respectively. The ERT-3 Audience Award for a foreign film under 45 minutes (with a prize of 2,000 euros) went to “The Blood of Yingzhou District” (China-USA) by Ruby Yang. The ERT-3 Audience Award for a Greek film under 45 minutes (2,000 euros) went to “School Wave” by Pavlos Tsiandos.

The ERT-3 Audience Award for a foreign film over 45’ (3,000 euros) was won by “A Song for Argyris” (Switzerland) directed by Stefan Haupt. The ERT-3 Audience Award for a Greek production over 45’ (3,000 euros) went to the film “Play It Again, Christos,” directed by Stavros Kaplanidis.

The 2007 EDN award went to Svetlana and Zoran Popovic for their contribution to building and supporting documentary culture in and around Belgrade and Serbia.

Annual parade raises banner of Old World tradition March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Panagiotis Sgouridis felt right at home in Baltimore yesterday, despite being an ocean away from his native Greece.

A former Minister and current member of the Greek Parliament, Sgouridis marched in the Greek Independence Day Mid-Atlantic Parade that wound through Baltimore’s Greektown neighborhood. “It just like in Greece,” Sgouridis said of the event, “except this is more authentic. In Greece, the military marches and it’s very official. Here, it comes from the people.”

Greek Independence Day is a celebration of Greece’s gaining of independence after 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire, a Turkish state that at one point controlled much of southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Greeks rose up against the Ottomans in 1821 and won their independence eight years later.

Gayle V. Economos, a spokeswoman for the parade committee who lives in Pasadena, said Greek culture was suppressed during Ottoman rule. “There is a Greek nursery rhyme about going to school by the light of the moon, the Kryfo Scholio” she said. “That’s because teaching Greek culture was forbidden.”

“Feggaraki mou lambro, fegge mou na perpato, na pigeno sto scholio, na matheno pragmata spoudagmata kai tou Theou ta pragmata” meaning “My shining moon, show me the way to go to school, so that to learn things and all those great things as laid by God”.

Greek Independence Day coincides with the Greek Orthodox Feast of the Annunciation, on 25th March, a celebration of the Archangel Gabriel’s revelation to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Several Orthodox churches were represented in yesterday’s parade and were joined by other Greek cultural organizations.

Along the parade route, which started in Highlandtown and ended in Greektown, vendors sold blue-and-white Greek flags and matching hats. In addition to the Greek parade attractions, people lining the sidewalks got to see Scottish bagpipers, school marching bands and mummers, brightly dressed bands that originated in Philadelphia.

Lynn Powell of Parkville said she was drawn by a loose connection to Greek culture. “I have a lot of Greek friends,” she said. ‘So I thought it would be nice to do this.” “But I don’t think I’m going to see them in all this,” she added, gesturing to the people crowding the sidewalks around her.

In addition to Greek dignitaries like Sgouridis, Maryland politicians also attended, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, Mayor Sheila Dixon and Rep. John Sarbanes, who acted as grand marshal. Sarbanes, who has Greek roots, said he had attended the parade before. “But this is my first time as an elected official,” said Sarbanes, a Democrat who won election last November. He traces his Greek heritage through his father, former Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, and spent a year studying in Greece. But he also learned about Hellenic culture from his mother, who has English roots, he said. “She was a classicist,” he said. “So I had to study Greek history when I was young.”

Economos said that many of the Greek families living in Baltimore came from Sparta in Laconia, Peloponnese and the islands of Chios, Rhodes and Karpathos. “There are others, but those are the big ones,” she said.

Steve G. Mavronis of Fells Point, the Chairman of the parade committee, said that in addition to marking Greek Independence Day the parade was intended to highlight democratic ideals shared by Greece and the United States. “We have a lot of history together,” he said. “It’s all about tradition and creating a legacy for the young ones to grasp.”

Toronto’s Greeks honour homeland’s independence March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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The skies were grey and temperatures were unseasonably cool, but yesterday’s weather could not put a damper on the Greek Independence Day parade.

Sidewalks along the Danforth were packed as hundreds of revellers, many carrying the flag of their homeland, marked the start of the Greece’s war of Independence in 1821 from 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire.

“This is the celebration,” said Rev. Ignatios Delis, who came to Canada from Greece a couple of years ago. “It’s the Greek equivalent to Canada Day.” Delis, a Professor at a Greek Theology Academy which has helped to ordain 13 men as priests in Canada in the last decade, noted the March 25 date is also one of the holiest days for Orthodox Christians, marking the day the Virgin Mary was told she would bear a child.

Blue and white cabs, the same colours as the flag defiantly raised in 1821 at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese, Greece, inciting people to rise up against the Ottoman army, played Greek music along the parade route. Many revellers had traditional costumes, including the white tunics once worn by Evzone soldiers. The air was also filled with the smell of grilled meat as celebrants savoured the taste of Greek freedom with souvlaki and other delights.

“We’re very proud to honour our ancestors,” said Andreas Andrikopoulos, who came to Canada from Greece nearly 40 years ago and raised three children here. “We believe our children should know their history and not allow it to be repeated anywhere. They should fight for freedom for everybody.”

Toronto’s Greek Community marked the Independence Day by laying a wreath at the cenotaph near City Hall. The parade now closes the Danforth from Donlands to Broadview Aves.

Baltimore’s Parade celebrates independence with religion March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Two brothers, waving blue-and-white Greek flags, recalled their Spartan roots Sunday as they walked in the Greek Independence Day Mid-Atlantic Parade.

The annual procession “keeps our heritage alive,” said George Marafatsos, a member of the Laconian Society of Washington, D.C., descendants of the Spartan warriors chronicled in the new movie 300.

Marafatsos and his brother, Demetrius, both of Silver Spring, came to the United States four decades ago.

Thousands flocked to Greektown to catch a glimpse of the floats celebrating both Greece’s War of Independence from the Turks, which started March 25, 1821, and the Annunciation of Theotokos, the religious Greek Orthodox Feast commemorating the day when Archangel Gabriel told Mary she would bear Jesus.

As they have for the past decade, Georgia and Demetrius Trikoulis watched the parade from the stoop of their Greektown Bakery and Delicatessen. Georgia Trikoulis, a former Principal of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church school, knows specific dates of the revolution, waged after four centuries of Ottoman oppression. But the day’s religious roots make it and even bigger holiday, said Trikoulis, who left Greece in 1972. Since 1992, she and her husband have been selling baklava and spanakopitas, spinach pies from their shop on Eastern Avenue, the heart of Greektown, where restaurants with Hellenic names advertise delicious seafood, souvlaki and gyros.

A block away, Gayle Economos, a parade organizer, described how Greek mythology served as her childhood fairy tales. “These are the stories we usually hear on our parents’ and grandparents’ knees,” said Economos, whose ancestors hail from Macedonia, the land of Alexander the Great.

As energetic steppers and drummers elicited whoops from the crowd outside, Stanley Cavouras scanned the pews of a much quieter St. Nicholas’, removing “reserved” placards left from morning Mass. Keeping with the day’s melding of government and religion, Greek Orthodox priests sat next to elected officials, including Mayor Sheila Dixon, on a dais in front of the church on Ponca Street.

Andrew Goodman, of Essex, said the sunny day was perfect for a parade that everyone, including non-Greeks like himself, could enjoy. “I like how everyone is represented,” he said.

Triumphant march in blue and white March 26, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Parade participants dressed as Evzones, the ceremonial Greek Presidential Guards, take a break during yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations

parade_evzones.jpg  Mild weather attracted a bigger turnout than usual at yesterday’s parade marking Greek Independence Day

John Bakopanos, slipped out of his hockey jersey and into his tsolias, the traditional white-skirted outfit worn by Greek men and boys, so he could march in yesterday’s parade marking Greek Independence Day.

“It’s fun to celebrate my history,” said John, who took part in the festivities with his younger brother, Demetri. “What I like best are the drums.” Drums thrashed, loudspeakers blared and thousands of onlookers waved blue-and-white striped flags as the two-hour parade unfolded.

Sunny skies and mild weather attracted a bigger turnout than usual for the event, which began at 1 p.m. People lined the parade route three deep and cheered as participants dressed in colourful Hellenic costumes made their way west from Park Ave. along Jean Talon St. to l’Acadie Blvd.

International youth-rights activist George Stamatis was this year’s parade marshal. Stamatis, 24, was recognized for his work in co-ordinating counselling services for Dawson College students affected by the shooting last September. “I’ve walked in the parade so many times as a kid, I can’t count ’em,” Stamatis said. “This is the first time I’ve led the parade. I am here because of a team effort and I loved it, I loved every minute of it.”

The annual parade combines a major political milestone in Greek history with a Greek religious holiday, Evangelismos, which is when Orthodox Christians celebrate Archangel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary and informed her she was going to be the mother of Jesus. It also recalls the day 186 years ago when a band of freedom fighters called the Philiki Etaireia launched their rebellion against the Ottoman rulers who had governed Greece for four centuries. The struggle went on for 10 years. In the end, the Greek mainland and many of the Ionian islands won their independence.

“It is important that we commemorate our independence,” said Christos Galatas, who was dressed as one of the dozen Evzones, ceremonial Greek Presidential Guards, that brought up the rear of the parade. Twenty-six Greek Community Associations, ten Greek Macedonian groups and nine Lakonian Associations took part.

Watching from the reviewing stand were two members of the Greek legislature, Stavros Keletsis and Tzakri Theodora, a McGill University Professor Emeritus, Michael Paidoussis, who was named Montreal’s Greek of the Year and John Theodosopoulos, the President of Montreal’s Hellenic Community.

“Our parade is more Greek than the ones in Greece,” Theodosopoulos said. “Greeks in Montreal appreciate our heritage more than they do over there. Here, we celebrate Greece as it was, as we remember it before we came to Canada, before Greece evolved. Greece today is so Americanized, all you hear spoken over there is English,” Theodosopoulos said.

Organizers estimated attendance to be about 60,000. The parade also drew a number of high-profile local politicians, including former Liberal member of Parliament and independent Senator Marcel Prud’homme; veteran Montreal city councillor Mary Deros, who has strong ties to the Greek community; and Justin Trudeau, her rival for the federal Liberal nomination in Papineau riding.