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Thessaloniki International Fair opens Saturday September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences.
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The 72nd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) opens its doors on Saturday and will last until September 16, gathering 956 exhibitors from Greece and from 25 countries.

The 72nd TIF, that will also be hosting 15 official state participations, will be presenting, among other things, 12 theme dedications and many other parallel events.

The foreign exhibitors are from Egypt, Belgium, France, Germany, the United States, Japan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Spain, Israel, Italy, Kenya, China, South Korea, Cyprus, Montenegro, Britain, Hungary, Pakistan, Serbia, Sweden, Syria, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

Albania, Brazil, India, Hungary, Turkey, South Africa, Taiwan, France, Italy, the United States, Cyprus, Pakistan, Romania, Syria and Ukraine will also be participating with official state pavilions.

National participations in the 72nd TIF will comprise the “Global Exchange” theme that will provide the international and trade element of this year’s event.

The TIF’s 3rd business forum will be a special attraction since the main speakers will be the four famous “gurus” of management and marketing Jordan Ayan, Rene Carayol, Keith Ferazzi and Richard Reeves, who will be making addresses in Greece for the first time.

The TIF will be open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and over the weekends (September 8-9 and 15-16) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Related Links > http://www.helexpo.gr


Maria Callas tribute on Athens’ Pnyx Hill September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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maria_callas.jpg  La Divina. Maria Callas became the world’s first, truly international star of opera. She died 30 years ago.

As the world mourns the loss of Luciano Pavarotti, an artist who is credited with making opera accessible to a broad public, 2007 marks 30 years since the death of opera’s first truly international star, Maria Callas. Greece has named the current year as the Maria Callas Year with a number of events paying tribute to La Divina.

Part of this tribute is an upcoming concert scheduled to take place on Sunday on the Hill of Pnyx near the Acropolis.

Organized by the City of Athens Cultural Organization, the event features two eminent opera soloists, Greek soprano Dimitra Theodosiou and Italy’s Fulvio Oberto. Both artists are well known for their vocal and dramatic skills on stage when interpreting bel canto, including popular works by Verdi, Puccini and Bellini.

On Pnyx, the vocalists will be accompanied by the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra and Mixed Choir, under the baton of maestro Nikos Athinaios.

Admission to the performance is free and those wishing to attend are invited to gather at the ancient site by 8.30 p.m., half an hour before the beginning of the concert.

Gloom of the era dominates politically inclined exhibition September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The launch of «Fractured Figure,» the latest visual arts show presented by the Deste Foundation Center for Contemporary Art, earlier this week ushers in a new era, a personal one.

The show addresses politically fueled art in a different way. «Fractured Figure» approaches political art with an emphasis on personal rather than collective issues. Loneliness, a troubled existence and death are common themes in participating works by both Greek and foreign artists.

Taken alone, the show’s theme does not break any new ground at the exhibition. But this is the first time we are clearly seeing artists leave behind fictious beauty for gloomy subject matter.

David Altmejd’s enormous sculpture, one of the participating works, looks like it has come out of a nightmare. Pawel Althamer’s installation «Black Market» is as black as coal. Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi satirizes art collector Dakis Joannou in a work titled «Mega Dakis,» which portrays Joannou as a Roman emperor accompanied by weird creatures emerging from his head. Folkert de Jong, who is preparing a huge installation for the upcoming Athens Biennale, has put on show a freaky looking female figure. Paul McCarthy contributed «Paula Jones,» a new sculpture named after the woman who accused former US president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment, which features monstrous human-pig hybrids.

Last, but not least, Paul Chan takes part with an already screened video that depicts shadows jumping out of buildings. Works such as these make clear the impact of the Iraq war and the September 11 attacks on the USA on art.

The works on show may be gloomy, as a reflection of our times, but there is a sense of freshness about the way this exhibition has been curated and set up. The contributing works, which stem from the Joannou collection, were culled by a team of curators headed by American Jeffrey Deitch, who played an instrumental role in the collection’s content. The well-known artist Urs Fischer made important interventions, changing the position of his own works, or those of his participating colleagues.

This exhibition offers useful answers to the question of what happened to political art, as well as insight into how a collection can continue developing like a living organism.  

«Fractured Figure» runs through March 29, 2008. Deste Foundation, Center for Contemporary Art, 11 Filellinon and Em. Pappa Street, Nea Ionia, Athens, tel 210 2758490.

Related Links > http://www.deste.gr

Contemporary art ‘invades’ Athens September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The first Athens biennial, opening in the next few days at Technopolis Arts Complex, is an occasion for numerous parallel exhibitions and art projects

Starting this weekend and for the next couple of months, Athens will be host to a buzzing contemporary art scene. The much-awaited first contemporary Athens art biennial which comes with the provocative title «Destroy Athens» opens on Sunday. The event has provided the occasion for numerous parallel events: exhibitions, curatorial projects, happenings, graffiti and public art.

The biennial, which opens at the Technopolis art center in Gazi and is curated by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, Augustine Zenakos and Poka-Yio, aims at attacking stereotypes and invites artists to challenge timeless symbols such as those present in the city of Athens. By inviting artists from all over the world to participate, it also aims to establish itself as an international, periodical event. In fact it coincides with the Istanbul and Lyon biennials and has networked with both international events.

The most expansive parallel event is Remap KM, a project that includes numerous exhibitions and will be held in the areas of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio, south of Gazi. Thirteen participating artists, seven of whom are international, will each occupy a temporary «project space», abandoned buildings, open areas or other venues, and put on group or one-man shows. Among them, an exhibition on the landscapes of British artist Clare Woods (at the Rebecca Camhi project space) or Mustafa Hulusi’s work on the subject of Athens (presented by the Turkish Rodeo gallery). The international galleries that will participate include Peres Projects from Los Angeles and Berlin, IBID Projects from the UK and Nice & Fit from Berlin whose owner is Greek.

Remap KM also includes an open-air video and film-screening program as well as various independent, curatorial projects such as «Young Athenians» curated by Neil Mulholland and organized by the British Council in Greece.

Other, independent exhibitions will further enrich the city’s visual arts scene. «Emergency Room» to be held at the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center is an interesting group show and the continuation of a «movement» that was first presented in Copenhagen and then New York. Conceived and curated by French conceptual artist Thierry Geoffroy/Colonel, the project invites artists from all over the world to create works on current, «emergency» situations thus bringing art closer to the latest political and social issues.

Another interesting exhibition is «Disco Coppertone» organized by Locus at the Piraeus Port Authority. This group exhibition focuses on the tourist industry and the notion of vacationing as an escape and lifestyle.

«Fractured Figure» at the Deste Foundation Center for Contemporary Art and the second part of the contemporary video art exhibition «Her (His) tory» at the Museum of Cycladic Art are also not to be missed.

Another unusual project, to be held at the Bettina boutique in Kolonaki, is a group international art project curated by Dimitris Antonitsis.

Most of the above events will be on view throughout the duration of the biennial to mid-November. Seen as a whole, they will constitute a visual arts fiesta that will most likely give new impetus to the field of contemporary art in this country.

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Four in 10 Athenians stick with their cars September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Living, Transport Air Sea Land.
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Four in 10 Athenians get about the city every day by car, ignoring the city’s growing transport network, according to survey results presented yesterday.

The report, prepared by the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), said that 26 percent of Athenians would only accept using two different types of public transport if this slashed their transport time by more than half.

Despite the heavily congested city center and severe parking problems, many commuters prefer to drive into central Athens. The average number of people in each car in the city center was 1.5, while in other European cities vehicles are not allowed to enter the central district carrying less than three passengers, including the driver.

Survey results indicate the government is likely to miss its goal of getting half of commuters using transport by 2008.

Around 43 percent of commuters use public transport, while just less than 10 percent walk to their destinations. The survey added that 5 percent of respondents use “other’ means of getting about without clarifying what these might be.

Buses ranked among the most favored mode of public transport due to their extensive network across Athens with the metro system taking second place.

Journey times in cars out of the city center pick up, according to the survey, as vehicles reach an average speed of 22 kilometres an hour, the same speed buses travel at in their allocated traffic lanes.

The survey was held between September 2006 and January 2007 and questioned 150,000 commuters and households.

Millions of euro losses for alternative telecom providers September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Egyptian telecommunications magnate Naguib Sawiris, the owner of Wind Hellas, has also acquired Tellas, ensuring it remains the country’s top alternative service provider.

Alternative telephony providers competing with giant Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), battled to survive for another year in 2006, having posted pre-tax losses of approximately 100 million. Their accumulated losses stand at nearly 220 million.

The above amounts exclude funds made available through successive share capital increases, aimed at offsetting liabilities from previous years. In other words, many alternative phone companies are now facing grave viability problems, especially those with no aces up their sleeves that would enable them to secure fresh capital.

Tellas, the sector’s number one telecom provider (on the basis of turnover), recently averted that threat after its control passed into the hands of Egyptian telecommunications magnate Naguib Sawiris, also the new owner of Wind Hellas. In 2006, Tellas posted pre-tax losses of 28.8 million, while accrued losses stood at over 125 million, but the company’s destiny is now a merger with Wind Hellas, which would essentially boost its finances. In addition, synergies with Wind are expected to create an even more efficient venture which would be in a position to significantly cut service provision and marketing costs.

Forthnet, which holds the sector’s second top position, is the only company that enjoys strong liquidity and is now striving to consolidate and further boost its share of the growing broadband market, but at a high price. Forthnet currently has the largest share of broadband connections after OTE and is also the only company in that sector which is listed on the Athens bourse. In addition, the company recently benefitted from a common bond loan valued at 150 million, which gave the firm extra liquidity.

The recent move into fixed line telephony by mobile phone operators is making life much tougher for Forthnet and other alternative providers. For these providers, apart from having to compete with OTE, also have to contend with the high profits of cell phone companies, which allow them to “buy” market shares at relatively high prices.

These have been the main developments in the domain of alternative telephony providers, a market segment showing high concentration trends.

Intracom recently paid 70 million to buy out two of its competitors, Attica Telecom and Teledome, in a move aimed at providing support to its Hellas on Line (HoL) subsidiary. In late 2006, Lannet also bought through a stock swap, Telepassport and Columbia Telecom. Such moves are expected to reach a peak in the second half of 2007, when Wind Hellas, together with Tellas, launch their own offensive in the area of fixed telephony.

OTE has yet to say its last word, as the partly state-run company prepares to launch new products combining fixed and mobile telephony and Internet services.

Such mobility has brought drastic changes in the telecommunications market, reflected partly by the size of charges and fees. Undoubtedly, great benefits, at least in the short run, are enjoyed by consumers, who are daily enticed with increasingly better prices and offers, such as free broadband connection time for three months, recently announced by Vodafone.

However, tougher competition and lower prices for subscribers cause companies to see their losses grow even further. For instance, analysts believe that Forthnet’s efforts to secure a major market share may result in losses of up to 40 million in 2007. The company is investing heavily in efforts to win over OTE customers and bring them to its own network, through an unbundled local loop, which would allow the firm to enjoy a much higher profit margin.

Up to now, alternative companies say that selling broadband connections hired on OTE’s network results in 80 percent of their income going back to the master provider (OTE), while the operation of their own network would reduce that figure to 20 percent. And that’s the major challenge for smaller alternative providers in their efforts to strike deals with strong allies in order to survive.

Pilot program mooted for mobile phone tours of sites September 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Technology, Telecoms.
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Archaeological Receipts Fund requests installation of system > The Theater of Dionysus is one of the sites where TAP wants to introduce a pilot program offering information on the archaeological finds via SMS.

Guided tours of archaeological sites by text message is one of the projects put forward by the new administration of the Archaeological Receipts Fund (TAP). The aim is to bring in more visitors and revenues. TAP submitted a proposal to the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) to accept an offer by mobile telephony company Wind to run a pilot program. Among the sites in the pilot program are the Kerameikos cemetery, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, the Panathenaic Stadium, Herod Atticus Theater, Theater of Dionysus, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library and the Ancient Agora.

Passers-by will receive text messages when they are near or in the archaeological sites. An SMS will tell them the name of the site and offer more details for a cost of 3 euros, which will be charged to their accounts. The proceeds will be shared, with Wind turning over half to TAP.

This system will suit visitors in a hurry, but what will the consequences be? “Such a system would compete with tour guides and TAP’s publications,” objected one KAS council member, who requested further information about the possible dangers, while accepting that the use of new technologies was inevitable. Byzantine Museum Director Dimitris Constantios also expressed reservations: “Nobody can avoid the future but if we give permission now, we might find our backs against the wall with other mobile phone companies tomorrow.”

Some members noted that this new form of tour would attract new visitors. KAS General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos described it as a “brilliant” idea, adding that people buy printed guides as souvenirs of a site, not to use as guides during their visit. The new system will not be in competition with the audio guides that TAP has ordered, which are intended for use indoors. Instead, it will be available to foreign visitors whose mobile operators have a roaming agreement with Wind Hellas, and the information will be provided in their own language. The council voted by a majority to request further information before making a decision.