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Get walking in the Greek mountains October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Mainland.
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Greece is famous for its beaches, sun, villas, friendly villages and great Mediterranean weather.

The country also makes a great place to visit for an active holiday, whether you are staying on the coast or further inland.

Water sports from jet skiing to windsurfing and kayaking are readily available from many beachside resorts, and sailing holidays Greek island-hopping are also a great way of experience the natural beauty of the country.

However, a lesser known side to the country can be discovered in the Pindos Mountains, located in northern Greece. The mountain range is home to one of the world’s deepest gorges, Vikos Gorge, and a walking holiday is a great way of seeing the cliffs, ravines, rivers and waterfalls of the gorge and the surrounding mountains.

There are more than 50 different varieties of orchids in the mountains, and almost 2,000 varieties of wild flowers. One of the popular trails in the mountains is the Vradeto Steps, a winding series of steps descending a vertical cliff, where you can also see rare orchids and wild herbs.

Dotted around the mountains are the 46 villages of the Zagoria area, where holidaymakers can get the authentic Greek experience, from local culture and pretty stone buildings, to archaeological sites, museums to monasteries.

There are several tour operators offering walking holidays in the Pindos Mountains, just consult your travel agent for additional information.

Related Links > www.visitgreece.gr

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Greek Australians in Athens to show talent October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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An 18-member soccer squad of young Australians of Greek descent has arrived in Athens for a series of youth-level friendlies which the visitors hope will lead to contracts with Greek clubs.

The visiting squad, a select group of players aged between 16 and 22, launched its brief showcase tour yesterday against Olympiakos’s youth team. It is scheduled to meet Aegaleo tomorrow, Panathinaikos next Tuesday and AEK two days later.

Several Australian players of Greek descent have managed to sign with Greek clubs in the past, mostly in the 1980s and early 90s, but the flow has since come to a halt. Compared to the sport’s local market standards, soccer in Australia remains far less lucrative.

Acropolis artifacts to be moved to the New Museum October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums.
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Swaddled in white drop cloths, hundreds of sculptural masterpieces from the Acropolis are waiting to be delicately lifted by crane to a new, glass and concrete Museum nearing completion at the foot of the ancient citadel.

acropolis_artifacts2.jpg  In just a few days, on October 14, officials plan to start whisking some 4,500 artifacts from the old, cramped Acropolis Museum. It will be the first time the artifacts, some of which are considered among the most important works of antiquity, have been moved from the site. A trial run will be held next week.

The first piece to make the 400-meter journey will be a 2.5-ton marble block from the Parthenon frieze, a 2,500-year-old sculpted strip depicting a religious procession that ran around the ancient temple just below roof level.

“This is one of the biggest and the least fragmented of all the blocks in the frieze”, senior conservator Dimitris Maraziotis told The Associated Press. Supervising engineer Costas Zambas said the transfer will take at least a month and a half, although bad weather could prolong the operation. It will cost 2.5 million euros.

acropolis_artifacts1.jpg  Using three cranes up to 50 meters high, a team of 35 workers will relay the priceless artifacts, mostly from the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., off the Acropolis hill into the purpose-built new Museum.

“Every single part of the operation will be difficult and requires great care” said Zambas, a veteran of the long-running Acropolis restoration project who was involved in removing the remaining sculptures from the Erechtheion and Parthenon temples for display in the old Museum.

Wearing padded harnesses, the sculptures will be hoisted into styrofoam-filled boxes made of plywood and metal. Each crate will take up to 2½ hours to reach the new Museum, traveling just a few meters above ground level, according to Zambas. Up to four crates will make the trip every day.

acropolis_artifacts3.jpg  Beyond the creation of an architectural landmark in its own right, there are political aims behind the long-delayed 129 million euros Museum. Greece hopes the new building’s top-level display conditions might propel the country’s decades-old campaign to regain the Parthenon Marbles, stolen 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, a British diplomat, and currently on display at the British Museum. The London museum refuses to return the works, but Greece has proposed that they should be displayed in Athens, alongside the remaining sections, as a long-term loan.

Initially scheduled for completion before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the new, 20,000-square meter Museum was delayed by legal fights and new archaeological discoveries at the site, many of which will be visible under glass floors. It will contain more than 4,000 works, 10 times the number on display in the old Museum. The two-story building was designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis.

The building will be capped by a glass hall containing the Parthenon sculptures. The glass walls will allow visitors a direct view of the ancient temple. The new Museum is expected to open in sections next year, but the full collections will go on view before 2009.

The fractured figure, mirror of our world October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An exhibition of works from the Dakis Joannou collection

If contemporary art is a mirror of the reality which surrounds us, then a visit to the two newly established biennials, in Athens and Thessaloniki respectively, as well as “Fractured Figure: Works from the Dakis Joannou Collection,” an exhibition at the DESTE Foundation, would leave little doubt that this is indeed quite a horrid world in which we live.

Pain, pessimism and allusions to a world in crisis, politically, socially, economically, perhaps aesthetically too, has been the predominant feeling, particularly in the biennials. “Fractured Figure” is set in a similar tone. But it also contains a pop element and sense of irony, typical in most exhibitions on the Dakis Joannou collection, that removes some of the pessimism from the overall effect.

“Fractured Figure” employs mostly figurative art to paint an image of contemporary man’s condition. In the majority of the works, the human figure appears distorted, for example Ashley Bickerton’s “Torso”, or grotesque, beastly, the half-man, half-pig figures of Paul McCarthy, or alienated, tortured or menaced.

In his essay written for the exhibition catalog, to be released shortly, Jeffrey Deitch, the exhibition curator, Massimiliano Gioni has also contributed as curatorial adviser, notes: “A new approach to figurative art reflects the real challenges faced by real people. Instead of being idealized or fantasized, the figure is fractured, exploded, and imperfect… It embodies a sense of cultural dysphoria, a state of dissatisfaction and anxiety, the opposite of euphoria.”

Man appears powerless and at a loss, or as a caricature. David Altmejd’s “The Giant” is a monumental sculpture of a human figure seen in the pose of classical sculpture but with nothing of the latter’s idealized image. The figure resembles a cross between a human and a tree, with tree trunks for legs, fractured all over and with squirrels in the crevices. Is the work about man being doomed to self-destruction?

Not all of the works depict the human figure. Robert Gober’s installation alludes to human presence and evokes childhood traumas. One of the strongest works in the exhibition, it shows the artist’s skill in employing a sparse visual language to put across a gripping, emotional effect.

Another non-figural work is Urs Fischer’s “Bread House.” The work evokes an eerie sensation and turns the notion of the cozy, fairy tale-like cottage into a nightmare.

Even the pop-like paintings of Jeff Koons, one of the preferred artists in the Joannou collection, he is strongly represented in the exhibition, appear more ominous than usual.

Yet, there are also plenty of moments of derision and irony, and at times the viewer senses an underlying mischievousness. Maurizio Cattelan’s works have precisely that impact. A sculpture showing the effigy of the artist peeping from a trapdoor can be taken as mockery against the art establishment and the role of the artist.

Although some works are more humorous than others, they are all supposed to share several characteristics. According to Deitch, one is their implicit reference to the performance and body art of the late 1960s and 70s.

Another is that they belong to a tendency in contemporary art in which figuration is used with a political subtext. Deitch singles out the current trend from former manifestations of figuration in contemporary art. In his view, during the late 1980s, artists were interested in the “conceptual figure”, as for example in the effects that plastic surgery or genetic engineering had on the human figure, while, around a decade later, the focus shifted to the “fictional figure,” the perception of man through video games and the Internet. This description mostly fits the art produced in the US and the art that is typical of the Dakis Joannou collection.

However, the figure appears just as inhuman and alienating as before. Is this indicative of a crisis? Crisis in art or crisis in the world at large? The first question is not tackled by Deitch. The curator does not dispute the language of contemporary art or artistic creativity. “Rather than turning to collective action and public protest to express its fears, the emerging generation has internalized its discomfort. The political has become personal. Artists have also personalized and internalized these concerns. The most compelling new art is not propagandistic or stridently political. It is more reflective of a state of mind and more abstract in its message. It is political in a more profound way…” According to the curator, this is an exhibition that “calls for a renewed embrace of humanity.” Not everybody would agree that shock value and the preposterous are necessary tools to effect this embrace. But ultimately, art is also a matter of taste. Not everybody responds to it in the same way. “Fractured Figure” is an exhibition with a specific curatorial concept and works by some of the most established artists worldwide. It captures an existing trend in contemporary art and can certainly be appreciated for that alone.

“Fractured Figure, Works from the Dakis Joannou Collection” at the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, 11 Fillelinon and Em. Pappa Street, Nea Ionia, Athens, tel 210 2758490, through March 29. New works will be added to the existing exhibition in early November.

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

An unusual staging of Solomos’s ‘Free Besieged’ October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Stavros Tsakiris’s ‘The Free Besieged’ is a piece of devised theater.

The audience sits on a platform elevated some 2 or 3 meters above the ditch in which the actors perform. This brand-new, non-conventional stage has been set up at the warehouses of the Metron company in Rendi, near Piraeus, and will be there for just a few days, until October 14, hosting Stavros Tsakiris’s latest piece of work, a play based on Dionysis Solomos’s poem “The Free Besieged.”

The project began last spring, when the work premiered at the Roman Forum in central Athens, drawing from its beautiful surroundings. “What we are presenting now is something entirely different,” explains Tsakiris. Firstly, says the director, the concept of the space in which the play will be presented is different and it has, to a great extent, influenced the dramaturgy, allowing the audience to experience the feeling of being besieged.

“Solomos was the springboard,” says the director. “The play is devised theater. It poses questions. What is a siege? Is freedom a conscious concept? What is the difference between freedom and liberality? Is bliss something that can be experienced during life on earth or is it something attained after death? The production also proposes a new approach to the theatrical venue more generally and to the different ways in which actors can work with a given play.”

The musical motif, by Platonas Andritsakis, is complemented by sounds taken from nature, cries, whispers and moments of silence. The costumes for the performance are designed by Gabriella Noyman and Alexandra Siafkou, the video art is by Mary Sarantari and the design of the space and technical installations are by Loukas Hadzis.

At the warehouses of Metron Company, 15 Hadzianesti Street, Rendis, Athens, behind Allou Fun Park and the Olympic Volleyball Arena. For information call 210 4251093.

First energy-sufficient building in Athens October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Energy, Technology.
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A team of local experts have built a five-story building in Athens with its own autonomous energy supply, the first of its kind in Europe.

Experts from the National Center of Scientific Research (NCSR), the Development Ministry’s General Secretariat for Research and Technology and energy company Sol Energy Hellas have pooled their resources to create a 600-square-meter building that draws more than 95 percent of its energy needs from its solar and geothermal energy installations. Geothermal power is generated by heat stored beneath the earth’s surface.

athens_eco_building.jpg  The mythical figure of Prometheus, giver of fire, adorns the building. Located in the southern Athens suburb of Palaio Faliron, the inauguration of the energy project, which houses Sol Energy Hellas’s offices, will take place tomorrow after four years in the making.

One of the largest obstacles experts came up against in executing the project was proving to government officials that the building did not need access to all state energy companies. However, the Environment Ministry forced the installation of a natural gas system, as this is required by law.

High-performance solar panels that heat water but are also able to cool down the building and shallow geothermal equipment used to control room temperatures are among the features of the project. Experts estimate that less than 10 years will be needed to recover the money invested in the power equipment. In Greece, solar power systems are used almost exclusively to power hot water systems in homes.

”We have 3 million square meters in Greece of installed solar panels, saving 2,000 megawatts of energy which amount to two power plants the size of those in Megalopolis,” said Vasillis Belesiotis of the NCSR.

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

Phoenix Solar to build Greek plant October 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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Phoenix Solar AG signed a general contractor agreement with a UK-based company for the construction of a photovoltaic (PV) plant in Greece with a peak power output of 952 kW.

Construction work on the plant is due to begin soon and finish before the end of the year. The project site is on mainland Greece not far from Thessaloniki. A project developer based in Cyprus is responsible for developing the project through obtaining all the necessary approvals. Phoenix Solar is to plan and build the power plant and turn it over upon full completion.

The demand for grid-connected large-scale photovoltaic plants is very high in Greece. Due to the complex and protracted approval procedure, no grid connected photovoltaic plants of over 100 kW peak power output have been built so far. Upon completion, Phoenix Solar’s 1 MW power plant will be Greece’s largest grid-connected PV plant.

Phoenix Solar AG has been working for two years on its market entry into Greece. This 1 MW project and the framework agreement signed last month on project development for 25 MW of PV power have secured the company an excellent starting point for developing business in the Greek solar market.