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Athenscope offers alternative versions of the capital’s history October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Inherited image an impediment to seeking true identity, says artist Yiannis Savvidis

athenscope.jpg  The students’ hall of residence on Patission Street is one of the real buildings in an invented socialist Athens.

Three stories about history, the science-fiction scenarios for Athens > Athens as capital of the eastern Roman Empire, a metropolis that never disappeared from the historical purview of the West. Athens as a provincial town in the newly established Greek state, whose capital was Corinth, and Athens as the capital of an imaginary socialist Greece.

Yiannis Savvidis is participating in “Destroy Athens”, the first Athens Biennale, which runs to November 18 at the Technopolis Arts Complex in Gazi, with a work that destroys the very myth that gave birth to the idea of Athens as a capital. He has set up three different rooms, brought in superbly designed town-planning maps, and set out with almost surgical accuracy the evidence he calls on to support his imaginary versions of history.

There is always something attractive in the avidity with which some people mobilize their imagination to subvert aspects of reality. In his “Athenscope”, Savvidis goes a step further. Born in Germany in 1966, he had his artistic education in Berlin in the 1990s, he retains the aura of a city that has unsettled accounts with history.

“Berlin is an historically fragmented city. It isn’t easy to define and it carries many different myths. The inability to classify it makes me feel the need to impose some order on the chaos. So I draft maps as strictly as a robot, I use town plans; I do research”. “Athenscope” is the first visual project in which Savvidis has married two opposing forces: a natural attraction to historically loaded sites, and a passion for classification.

Athen’s relation to history is more one-dimensional than Berlin’s. “What is interesting in the case of Athens”, explains Savvidis, “is that it was founded on an idea, on a collective fantasy that served specific purposes. That makes it unique in Europe. European cities became capitals either because they posses certain geophysical features, or because military conflicts, the very flow of history, led to them. Neither of those things happened in Athens. The idea of Athens was based on a visual construction”.

And Savvidis’s “games” are no more fantastic than what happened in reality. His installations prompt many questions. He sees the visual construction we inherited centuries ago as an unhealed wound.

“It stops us from seeking our true identity, a problem we constantly face”, he says. And there is another, more personal dimension: “I feel I am part of the problem, a victim of a fantasy I can’t stop going back to. It is a component of the Greek identity to fantasize about versions of history. What if the Democratic Army had won the Greek Civil War, and so on? They are fantasies that hold us back, that bring us into collision with our real self, but that also serve us. We refuse to assume our responsibilities”.

Related Links > http://www.athensbiennial.org

New drive for return of the Parthenon Marbles October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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Greece should use the opening of its new Acropolis Museum to ratchet up the pressure on Britain for the permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles to their homeland, the head of an international campaign said yesterday.

The 2,500-year-old sculptures and friezes were removed from Greece in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin and successive British governments have refused to return them despite a campaign launched by Greece in the early 1980s.

parthenon_marbles1.jpg  “What we would like to see is the Greek government to elevate this as an issue in bilateral relations between Britain and Greece,” said David Hill of the International Organization for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles after meeting Greece’s new Culture Minister Michalis Liapis.

The 129-million-euro Museum, originally slated for completion before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, was delayed for legal reasons and by new archaeological discoveries on the site at the foot of the famed Acropolis Hill. With 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) of space, the facility is expected to display about 4,000 works, 10 times the number at the old hilltop Museum it replaces. A top-level, glassed-in gallery has been designed to hold the Marbles, if and when they are returned, while offering an unobstructed view of the Acropolis.

Curators will start transferring hundreds of antiquities to the new Museum by crane on October 14, although the new Museum is not due to start opening until next year, with the completed galleries open by 2009.

Liapis told reporters that “the reunification of the Marbles is an historical necessity… with the return of antiquities to the Museum in a few days, it gives us new optimism and perspective.” Athens now proposes that the Marbles, currently kept at the British Museum in London, are returned through a long-term loan.

parthenon_marbles2.jpg  Hill said he hoped that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would prove more accommodating than his predecessor Tony Blair. Hill said the new Museum would allow the Marbles to be presented much better than in London. “The Museum is the best argument for the return of the Marbles, and is arguably one of the most significant new buildings in Greece for 2,000 years. It is of enormous significance, not only to Greece but to the world.”

Greece’s UEFA Cup historic night October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Historic night for Greek soccer as all five sides advance to group stage

Greece was yesterday celebrating being the only country to have five teams in the group stage of soccer’s UEFA Cup.

Despite the fact that all four teams in action on Thursday night, namely Aris, Larissa, Panionios and AEK, lost their games, they all went through on aggregate scores. Panathinaikos had already qualified on Tuesday night.

Aris and Larissa, in particular, put on impressive performances to put out much stronger opposition in the form of Real Zaragoza of Spain and Blackburn Rovers of England. Spain and England will only have three teams in the next round of the UEFA Cup. Germany will have four. The draw is due to take place on Tuesday.

Greece ranks high on international city survey October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Living.
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Greece ranked in position No 20 on an international Reader’s Digest survey assessing 141 nations based on the best place to live.

Finland took first place, followed by Iceland and Norway. An assessment of the best city to live in ranked Athens in position No 63 out of a total of 72 cities. Stockholm scored as the best city to live in, with Oslo and Munich in second and third positions respectively.

The study was conducted by US environmental economist Mathew Kahn, who looked at issues such as quality of drinking water and greenhouse gas emissions as well as factors including education and income.

Greek buildings poor on energy efficiency October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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Greece consumes more than double the amount of heating fuel used in Sweden, which has a much cooler climate, due to a lack of proper insulation in most Greek buildings, according to Manthos Santamouris, an associate professor of physics.

Domestic power demand has been rising consistently in Greece over the last few years. The energy needs of buildings have increased by 35 percent from 1990 to 2005, according to figures from the Development Ministry.

Seventy percent of this energy is required to power heating systems in buildings, while just 18 percent goes toward lighting and air-conditioning units.

Greece has not yet adopted an European Union directive requiring all newly built buildings to possess a “green card,” which certifies energy efficiency. The deadline set by Brussels for EU member states to implement the green card system is January 4, 2009.

Greece should apply better forest management October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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Oak trees in Greece are being chopped down for firewood unnecessarily instead of being allowed to grow and absorb much more carbon dioxide than other types of trees, Theoharis Zachos, a forestry professor at Thessaloniki’s Artistotle University said yesterday.

Zachos called for the better management of Greece’s forests, saying that oak trees are cut down every 20 years but are a poor form of firewood, whereas if they were allowed to grow, they could absorb 20 percent more carbon dioxide.

“If we stop the way we currently manage forests… we could have massive environmental and economic benefits,” he said during a conference about the Kyoto Protocol. Zachos said that oak forests account for about a third of all the trees in Greece. But he added that forests now cover less than a quarter of Greece’s surface area.

Cleaner Asopos River on the way October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment.
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Greek Government heralds new networks to cleanse polluted river, supply safe water

Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday heralded in a series of measures to protect residents living near the heavily polluted Asopos River in central Greece.

The measures include the construction of a drainage network to channel toxic waste from local manufacturers away from the river, and the creation of a new irrigation network to supply residents of Oinofyta, Tanagra and Avlida with water from the River Mornos. Souflias, who met with local authority officials from the affected areas, also called for the creation of two pollution-measuring stations in Oinofyta and in eastern Attica to monitor the presence of toxic substances in the river water. Tests on underground reserves in both areas have revealed high levels of potentially carcinogenic depleted chromium.

The Minister also called for the delineation of “protected zones” in the area of the Asopos River and for stricter restrictions on the activities of local manufacturers as well as harsher penalties for offenders.

Last week a prosecutor ordered a probe to establish which firms have been dumping chemical waste into the Asopos. More than 10 manufacturers have been found to be illegally disposing of toxic refuse. They face heavy fines and the revocation of their operating licenses. The number of offenders is expected to rise once officials determine which firms have illegally installed secret pipes for disposing of their waste.

Local officials said they were satisfied, overall, with the additional measures heralded yesterday. But they called for constant inspections on local water quality and a comprehensive cleanup of the area. Regional MPs also called for prefectural departments to get staff boosts so that the new measures can be implemented quickly and effectively.

In a related development, tests in Ileia prefecture showed that local water in 50 Municipalities has been polluted following damage to the irrigation network due to August’s fires.