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Honoring Maria Callas Year September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Nikos Floros’s metal beauty exhibition currently showcased at the Melas Mansion on Kotzia Square in Athens > Canned knits. Sculpture inspired by Maria Callas in “Iphigeneia in Tauris” featuring ring-pulls that become a lace-like collar. A kimono sculpture inspired by “Madame Butterfly”

The shimmering folds and drapes on the sculptures create fairy-tale illusions of majestic queens clad in sumptuous fabrics. Approach closer, however, and you’ll find that everyday products can turn into the stuff of dreams.

Over a period of five years, artist Nikos Floros purchased more than 200,000 aluminium cans of soft drinks and beer and turned them into imposing works, inspired by the world of opera and its most glorious star, Maria Callas. With brands chosen primarily for their color combinations, Floros’s handmade, large-scale objects display elements of history, fashion, art and emotion, dedicated, above all, to La Divina’s spirit.

“Opera Sculptured Costumes” currently on display at the National Bank of Greece’s Melas Mansion, is organized by the non-profit Foundation for the Creation of the Opera Building and the Maria Callas Lyric Art Academy in Athens led by soprano Vasso Papantoniou. Curated by Katerina Koskina, the display at the grandiose, downtown Melas Mansion runs to October 19.

A surrealist who enjoys working with pop elements, Floros mixes the past and the present with cutting-edge flair. “Today’s temples are supermarkets, malls and department stores,” the artist said. “That’s where you exist.”

At the Melas Mansion, the sculptures are inspired by celebrated roles that the late soprano interpreted on stage at the world’s greatest theaters: Beer cans become glowing golden-brown shades for Violetta in “La Traviata”, there’s cool silver for “Iphigeneia in Tauris”, vivacious green for Rosina in “The Barber of Seville”, fiery red for “Tosca” and a kimono for “Madame Butterfly”. Also showcased is a suit for a Callas master class, as well as jackets, a corset, a pair of evening shoes and ankle boots, the latter painstakingly made in no less than two-and-a-half months.

From Elizabethan times to “Empire” and 20th century power-suits, Floros traces the history of garment design while exploring intriguing handmade techniques: Cans become fine pieces which are then woven, turning into metal fabric. Ring-pulls turn into elaborate metal lace on enormous collars and linings are executed with a stapler. For the artist, this is not about recycling, but rather about giving “a new dimension to an everyday commodity.” Powerful and beautiful, the work of Floros has captured the Callas spirit, artistic, original and larger than life.

At the Mela Mansion of The National Bank of Greece, 86 Aeolou Street, Kotzia Square, Athens. Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

floros_1.jpg  floros_2.jpg

floros_3.jpg  A Greek in New York > Born in the Peloponnesian city of Tripolis in 1970, Nikos Floros studied drama and design in Athens, before traveling to Paris to spend a year at the celebrated Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He also studied piano at the National Conservatory in Athens. Currently living and working in New York City as a costume art designer, the artist’s projects include a production of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Narcisse” at the Theater of the New City. In 2003, Floros’s sculpture “Silver Elizabeth I” received the Grand Prize of the Young Friends of French Heritage Society. In that same year, two of his works aroused much discussion at the Save Venice benefit gala. A year later, his work “Red Queen Elizabeth” was awarded the Grand Prize at the same benefit. In the same year, “Red Queen Elizabeth” was the centerpiece at the annual Art Benefit Event hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Greek UK-based artist wins DESTE award September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Lukia Alavanou’s entry earned her the DESTE Foundation’s Best Video Artist prize

Emerging artist Lukia Alavanou, whose work so far has delved into the tremendous possibilities of animation, was awarded the Best Video Artist prize by the Athens-based DESTE Foundation Center for Contemporary Art at a ceremony this week.

Alavanou, who has been based in the UK for the past eight years working on animation and collage projects, draws heavily from cartoons of the 1920s and cult-status horror movies for her creations. Her interest in early 20th century aesthetics is strongly reflected in her work, which also focuses on the period identified with Freud and psychoanalysis.

In comments to the local media, Alavanou said her winning entry came as a surprise. She was one of six artists on the short list for the DESTE prize, which is awarded biannually to a Greek artist living in Greece or abroad. The prize was established in 1999 as an integral part of the DESTE Foundation’s policy for the promotion of contemporary Greek art, honoring artists whose work demonstrates authenticity and innovation. Past recipients are Panayiota Tzamourani, Georgia Sagri, Maria Papadimitriou and Christodoulos Panayiotou.

“Of course, like all of us, I was hoping. But, to be perfectly honest, I was surprised. This was a high-standard event and my project was up against many very good entries. This alone adds greater weight to the prize,” said Alavanou.

While noting that she was “not accustomed to winning prizes,” Alavanou said she felt the DESTE prize came as acknowledgement for her efforts to date.

“This is a great honor,” said the video artist, who, responding to a question, denied that this accolade would elevate her own expectations. The demands you set for yourself remain high, win or lose,” remarked Alavanou.

On a wider level, the winning artist expressed her gratitude to the DESTE Center for once again staging a competition for video art, a domain that remains largely neglected in this country. “Generally, there are lots of worthy artists in Greece,” said Lukia Alavanou, “but they’re receiving minimal support.”

Related Links >
The Deste Foundation Centre For Contemporary Art > http://www.deste.gr

Masks and marionettes at Kilkis Festival September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Festivals, Stage & Theater.
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Colorful dolls, marionettes, masks and traditional figures from 13 different countries and three continents will come together in Kilkis, northern Greece, and revive old myths and true stories at the 9th International Puppet Theater and Pantomime Festival.

For 15 days, a total of 23 ensembles from Greece, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Hungary, Canada, Brazil, India, Syria and Kazakhstan will entertain their audience with 82 performances, four seminars, 10 workshops, an exhibition of puppets and other events that will be held in the city’s Public Library, streets and store windows.

Each country represented at the festival will present aspects of its traditional local culture as well as contemporary tales through performances of pantomime, marionettes and puppets. There is a lot on the festival’s bill, from performances starring feet and legs, acrobatics, props created from trash, variety puppet shows, juggling and singing, shadow theater and plays using masks, shadows and videos.

Among these are “The Princess of Pages and the Prince of Colors” (Greece), “The Stork Man” (Spain), “9 Short Plays” (Jogesh Pantomime Academy, India), “The Story of the Girl in Blue” (Hungary), “The King’s Journey” (Germany), “Sonnet With Four Feet” (Italy and Argentina), “The Belly Button” (Canada), “Upside-down Dreams” (France), “Garbage Tales” (Brazil), “Anxiety” (India), “Golfo 2.3Beta” (Greece) and many more improvised performances.

Related Links > http://www.kilkis-festival.gr/festival/index.php

The blossoming and downfall of the Greek grindhouse movie theaters September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Movies Life Greek.
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Athens Film Festival highlights a genre that carved its own path in the country’s capital > The Star cinema, on Aghiou Constantinou Street, was designed by Zach Mose. Were it not for its pornographic films, it could be one of the most charming movie theaters. The Athinaikon, behind Athens City Hall, was a purpose-built theater.

Early on in the history of cinema, there were trends and schools of thought that were not always aimed at the same group of people. Just like today, a large chunk of cinematic output is destined for mass urban consumption, while artistically oriented films are doomed to be shown at just a limited number of theaters.

The Premiere Nights Athens International Film Festival, which ends on Sunday, addresses this issue with a tribute to grindhouse. The term does not describe a particular genre of film, but a very specific category of movie theaters that mushroomed throughout the United States in the 1960s and well into the 80s. Nestled in the seedy neighborhoods of America’s cities, grindhouse theaters reflected the faded, filthy death of the glamorous theaters of the 30s and 40s.

The repertory at America’s grindhouse theaters was surprisingly broad: shocking pseudo-documentaries and wannabe snuff movies, topless starlets and hardcore porn, exotic cannibalistic banquets, rioting women’s prisons and Nazi S&M orgies, zombies and bloodsucking beauties, spaghetti westerns and angry nuns. All day and night, prostitutes, junkies, pimps, homeless people, voyeurs or just lonely Joes with a bent for the weird would pay the meager fee and choose these repugnant theaters as shelter to conduct shady deals or as a refuge from demanding spouses and nosy neighbors.

In the Greek equivalent of grindhouse theaters the selection was somewhat more limited: westerns, war movies, thrillers, martial arts adventures and adult movies. The customers, however, were the same, according to Giorgos Lazaridis in his book “Flash Back: A Life of Cinema” (Livanis Publications), who describes Greek grindhouse theaters as “hangouts for bums, professional idlers, improvised shelter for homeless passers-by, schools for thugs, an easy hideaway for truants from every high school in Athens.”

One big difference between Greek and American theaters is that pornographic movies did not make their way into Greek theaters until the early 70s, according to Dimitris Fyssas, who wrote “X-Rated: Programs of Athenian Sex Cinemas” (Delfini Publications). He describes how in the early years, projectionists would simply splice in a few scenes of pornography during the screening of a regular movie, with the audience below knowing very well, and anticipating, what was to come.

Rising property values in downtown areas, the widespread introduction of television and later video players into people’s homes drove most of these movie house owners to despair. In an effort to secure their financial survival, those two three-minute clips became increasingly longer. But the audiences wanted more sex, and mainstream fare was gradually supplanted by a strictly pornographic program.

Grindhouse, or to use the Greek term “laika” or popular, theaters are a thing of the past in Athens, but Fyssas disagrees: “The multiplex, as far as I’m concerned, is a modern version of grindhouse. That’s where you find movies to help you pass the time of day, movies the entire family can enjoy. These are not necessarily my choice of preference, but I have to give them credit for reviving a feeling that was almost lost.”

The natural heirs of laika theaters are those that play X-rated fare only. From 35 theaters in the 1980s, their numbers have now dwindled to five and this is not so paltry if one considers how easy it is to watch these movies at home nowadays. According to a theater owner, the clientele falls into three categories: immigrants, older men and people hoping for more intimate encounters under the cover of darkness.

The Star, on Aghiou Constantinou Street, is the king of its flock. And if it didn’t play pornographic films it would also probably be one of the most popular and charming cinemas in downtown Athens. Designed by Zach Mose, it began as a family theater with an interesting art deco facade, but the decline of the areas in and around Omonia Square in the 1970s left the owner with little choice. At first they played westerns, martial arts adventures and erotic films.

There are another four such cinemas. The Averof on Lykourgou Street is a historical cinema built in the late 1950s. Hard as it may be to imagine today, it used to be a lot like the grand Attikon cinema of Stadiou Street in its heyday, with elegant balconies and boxes. The clientele was exclusively families who knew that the owner always had his eye out for entertaining Greek movies. The Averof’s decline went hand-in-hand with the decline of commercial Greek cinema.

The Cosmopolite, built in the interwar years near Omonia Square, has retained its architectural charm. Paradoxically, the crisis of the 1980s gave birth to two more theaters. The Athinaikon, behind Athens City Hall, was a purpose-built theater, named after another theater with the same name further down that closed. The Orfeo, in Attikis Square, the only cinema of this type that is not in downtown Athens, opened in 2003 in the place of a small manufacturing business.

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

Reworks Festival > Thessaloniki September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Festivals, Music Life Greek.
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Reworks Festival > Thessaloniki, Today and Tomorrow

Thessaloniki port is hosting the two-day Reworks Festival, which features concerts, from electronica to hip hop, reggae and soul, music showcases, screenings, art installations and exhibitions, performances, happenings and more.

Reworks Festival, Thessaloniki Port, www.reworks.gr

Tonight in the Capital > Athens events September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs, Stage & Theater.
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Maria Callas Tribute > Seven sopranos, Martha Arapi, Jenny Drivala, Dimitra Theodossiou, Vassiliki Karayianni, Mata Katsouli, Elena Kelessidi and Julia Souglakou, will pay tribute to Maria Callas at the Olympia Theater, with a program of arias accompanied by the Greek National Opera Orchestra under Ilias Voudouris.
At the Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461.

Mario Frangoulis Concert > Tenor Mario Frangoulis will give a concert in aid of the Argo Foundation for children with special needs at Piraeus’s Katrakeio Theater tonight, joined by soprano Deborah Myers. Tickets can be purchased at Metropolis music stores and at Argo, tel 210 4210096.
Katrakeio Theater, Akropoleos and Nestoros Street, Piraeus, tel 210 4927467.

Runciman Tribute Show > “On the Corner of Karolou Dil and Tsimiski,” Giorgos Andreou and Thodoris Gonis’s music and theater tribute to Byzantinist Sir Steven Runciman starring Syrmo Keke, Athina Maximou, Evi Saoulidou and Eleni Tsaligopoulou, will go on stage for the second time at the Athens Concert Hall tonight.
Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.

Greek Rock Festival > Rocker Nikos Portokaloglou will lead a Greek music festival at the Vrachon Theater tonight, along with Manolis Famellos, Zak Stefanou, Nikos Ziogalas, Stathis Drogossis, Odysseas Tsakalos and others. Tickets are available at Metropolis music stores and at the Vyronas Cultural Center.
Vrachon Theater, Vyronas, tel 210 7626438.

Corda di Vento > The Corda di Vento music ensemble will perform compositions by Ginastera, Bernstein, Piazzolla and Brahms at the American College of Greece tonight. The concert will start at 8.30 p.m. and admission is 10 euros.
Americal College of Greece, 6 Gravias Street, Aghia Paraskevi, Athens, tel 210 6009800.

Goran Bregovic Concert > Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band will play Gypsy melodies and much more at Petroupolis’s Petra Theater this evening. Tickets can be purchased at Metropolis music stores and the Ianos Bookstore at 24 Stadiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3217917.
Petra Theater, Damari Petroupolis, Athens, tel 210 5012402.

New Acropolis Museum nearly ready September 28, 2007

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Acropolis sculptures due to start arriving at new home in mid-October

The task of transferring antiquities from the old Museum on the Acropolis to the new Acropolis Museum starts on October 14. Though the official opening has been scheduled, the new Museum venue is not far from completion and we can expect many celebrations in the interim. We will see official openings at every phase of the project.

In any case, as repeatedly pointed out by Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum President Dimitris Pantermalis, the new Museum must be accessible to the public. And the best way to attract them is to bring them in while the exhibition spaces are still being prepared.

Empty as it was on Monday during the visit of newly appointed Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, the Museum looked vast, but also friendly to the visitors who will file in, as well as to the thousands of exhibits that will no longer be crammed into a tiny space as they are in the old location.

The glass floors on the ground floor that highlight the antiquities discovered in recent years are the first thing that strikes the visitor, not only because the finds were not destroyed but because they are showcased so effectively. That impression is enhanced by the rest of the Museum, where glass walls seem to lengthen the distance to the ground, with almost dizzying effect.

The greatest emotional impact comes at the point where the ramp rises to a view of the pediment with the lions (more than 18 meters in length), with the display cases in niches next to it and behind them one of the Caryatids, impressive, even if it is a copy.

There are many viewing areas, as Acropolis Ephor Alexandros Mantis showed the Minister, which will encourage visitors to view the exhibits from different angles. In the last hall, which will play a key role in the Museum as it will house the Parthenon sculptures, a huge opening through which the antiquities will be brought indicates meticulous planning down to the last detail.

Liapis heard from Pantermalis and archaeologists from the Ephorate how the Parthenon frieze would be displayed and a net would indicate the parts that Lord Elgin took and are now in the British Museum.

The transfer of the antiquities will be finished in three months, with cranes making three or four trips a day. In fact the bases for the specially modified cranes are visible from a distance.