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Ancient Greek writers to be used for Ancient Olympia’s reforestation October 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Olympic Games.
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Testimony from ancient Greek writers will be used in the reforestation of Ancient Olympia after it was damaged by a swathe of wildfires in August, the Culture Ministry said on Thursday.

The hills around this small town in the southern Peloponnese peninsula will be mainly replanted with thousands of bushes and olive trees in line with the writings of Pausanias, a 2nd century AD traveller and geographer. The writings of Theofrastus, a 4th century BCE philosopher who wrote a treatise on botany, will also be employed, the Ministry said in a statement.

Crews in Olympia, which gave birth to the ancient Olympics and hosts the biennial ceremony to light the Olympic torch for each Games, are working hard to prepare the city for the 2008 Beijing Olympics ceremony in March.

“We will soon be able to deliver a restored Ancient Olympia to the international community,” Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said after an inspection of replanting and anti-flooding works on Thursday. “Work is proceeding on schedule,” he added.

The 12-day inferno in August burned trees behind the Olympia Archaeological Museum and grass on the slopes of the ancient stadium where thousands attend the lighting ceremony for the Games every two years. Extensive damage was also caused to the Olympic Academy grove where the heart of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, is buried.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis last month pledged that the Beijing Games flame-lighting ceremony, scheduled for March 24 2008, will go ahead “in a setting worthy of the history and symbolism of the site”.

Ancient Olympia to be ready for Beijing torch ceremony October 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Olympic Games.
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The countryside around Ancient Olympia that was extensively damaged by forest fires last August, will be restored in time for next year’s Beijing Games torch-lighting ceremony, the Culture Minister said on Thursday.

Summer fires damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land in the southern Peloponnese peninsula, killing dozens of people and sweeping into the lush Alfios river valley where Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games, is located.

Trees and bushes were burnt inside the archaeological site just metres from the ancient stadium and Temple of Hera. The blaze also damaged a Cypress-ringed clearing inside the Olympic Academy, where the heart of the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, is buried.

Olympia hosts a torch-lighting ceremony for the modern summer and winter Games every two years. Actresses playing ancient Greek high priestesses use a parabolic mirror to reflect the sun’s rays onto a small cauldron, which in turn lights the first torch of a relay ahead of the Games.

“In a short time we will hand back a fully restored ancient Olympia to the international community,” Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said after inspecting restoration works. “The torch-lighting ceremony on March 24, 2008, will be held in the best possible way,” he said.

Beijing Games organisers have planned a 137,000-km torch relay route around the world, which includes a trip to the top of Mount Everest and visits to 20 cities on five continents.

“Words are superfluous, the money is there, lots of sponsors are there, political will is there, so there is no excuse for delays,” Liapis told local authorities.

Famed Brazilian artist currently on show in Athens October 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Vik Muniz: ‘I never wanted to make works for the cultural elite’ > Famed Brazilian artist, whose work is currently on show in Athens, on his construction of illusionary images

Describing himself as a producer of low-tech illusions, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz creates images using ketchup, wire, diamonds, powder, chocolate syrup, plasticine or caviar, and then photographs the result. Well-known works of art and portraits lose their character as a result of the unorthodox choice of components. Muniz’s work not only conveys a childlike mood but also seeks to teach us how to see things in a different fashion. He believes that besides absorbing images it is also important to think about their creation and the message they convey. An exhibition featuring work by Muniz, currently one of the most established photographers around, is now on display at the Xippas Gallery in Athens.

For this show, he has put aside the more disparate materials and opted to use color pigments for complete reproductions of some of Pablo Picasso’s best-known paintings. The Brazilian, who has spent decades living in New York City, never ceases in his innovation, but he contends that this is not the objective.

“Using color pigments, I wanted to make a statement about the importance of color. Because of it, even reproductions of celebrated works in the history of art can change from one print run to another. If you place the pages side by side, you think that they’re different works. All is relative and dubious in art. Not even the artists themselves know exactly what they’re producing,” Muniz explained at a recent press interview.

“Every time you take a snapshot with a camera, the image you’re immortalizing vanishes for a moment from in front of you. Isn’t that ironical? The history of photography is connected with momentary blindness. For a fraction of a second, the photographer is left in the dark in exchange for the image he will obtain later on, which, however, he or she has not seen yet… In this respect, colors, in painting, end up having an entirely different texture when they’re dry. So, I’d say that painters, also, don’t know about the final result. They must go by faith.”

Muniz describes himself as a director of images. He locks himself into his studio and gets lost in the unlikeliest of creative methods, using the oddest of raw materials in the process. Then, when he has photographed the outcome of his efforts, such as, for example, a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, he destroys it and keeps the photograph.

“The creation of images in our era is essentially a process of cutting up and mixing. The artist of today is one whose role it is to choose and mix certain elements that make make a image, give it meaning. In photography especially, ever since the advent of photoshop, it’s become far easier and more charming to tell a lie than it is to tell the truth,” said Muniz. “Billions of dollars are spent each year just to update image-manipulating software. By contrast, users don’t keep up with the pace to understand the essence of the change and avoid being fooled.”

Muniz’s work is not just a case of putting bright ideas into practice. The process requires old-fashioned ability in painting, sculpture and handicraft to get the desired results. He considers himself to be a conceptual artist.

“In the past, the conceptual artist created works of art that didn’t necessarily have a material basis or a predetermined form. Nowadays you can create work that can be called conceptual without it being closely connected with the materials you’re using. My work is a bridge between materials and an idea. An intelligent thought alone can be catastrophic for an artist. It’s best to not use it immediately but rather let it go for a while and allow it to mature, like wine in a barrel. The idea will either become more complete or will be forgotten. So, in this way, things get sorted out well. I don’t like art that’s based totally on smart ideas, or missing the feeling of the material element, body, craft.”

Muniz considers it essential, these days, to learn to look with a critical eye. “I construct illusionary images but don’t use high-end technology, just simple means. My objective is to help the viewer think about exactly how the image came to being,” said Muniz.

“An artist must respect his or her audience and understand that it is not only composed of critics, art historians, collectors and curators. An artist must create things that even interest a child, an old man, a person without a specialized education who knows nothing about the history of art. The public is not an oligarchy of curators but a heterogeneous group that’s made up democratically. I never wanted to make works for the cultural elite. That’s the reason I use materials that are common to all, from ketchup to wire. The artist is a messenger. The message is conveyed easier when the receiver understands the language you speak.”

Until November 24 at the Xippas Gallery, 53D Sophocleous Street, Athens, tel 210 3319333. Nearest metro station “Omonia”. 

The Austrian Spring’ in Athens October 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and others on show in the capital > exhibition at the Athens Concert Hall.

Author Ludwig Hevesi once claimed, at the beginning of the 20th century, that nature is tired of posing, when trying to describe the new kind of freedom in art that was dawning in Vienna.

Freud had discovered psychoanalysis, the fears and hopes for the new era had already surfaced since the end of the 19th century, and some artists felt it their duty to cast a fresh look at landscapes and the human body. And that is what they did, in the most daring of ways.

That was how the Secessionist movement, which opposed the Austrian academic style, was born. Some of the most beautiful works created by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Carl Moll and other Austrian artists whose work comprises the famous collection of Vienna’s Leopold Museum, are currently on display in Athens.

The exhibition, titled “The Austrian Spring,” contains striking works that remind the audience of the incredible power of painting. Egon Schiele’s “Dead Mother” and “Self-Portrait,” Klimt’s “Blind Man” and his landscape from Attersee, Carl Moll’s view from Grinzing, some sketches and posters by Kokoschka, Koloman Moser’s painting of a girl with a necklace and Alfred Kubin’s “Hysteria” sum up the atmosphere that prevailed in Vienna at a time that changed humanity. One should not forget, as curator Efi Andreadi pointed out, that all these artists were in close contact with their contemporary composers, writers and architects and followed their work, hence creating an entirely different structure on which painting was developed.

The creator of the collection, Dr Rudolf Leopold, was also present at the recent press conference. Leopold has spent all his money to gather about 5,000 works, from 1948 to the present day. Part of his collection is permanently housed in a Museum that bears his name, the Leopold Museum, which opened in 2001 in Vienna’s Museum Quarter. The passionate collector fought alone for many decades, against the opinion of the mainstream artistic elite in Europe and USA about the value of these artists.

The Athens exhibition, in the foyer of the Athens Concert Hall through December 30, features a total of 70 oil paintings, sketches and posters. Admission is 6 euros and catalogs cost 20 euros.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282000. ‘The Austrian Spring’ is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Sundays. Nearest metro station”Megaron”.

Tribute to Bela Tarr at Trianon Filmcenter October 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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‘The Man from London,’ will open the mini-festival.

Distinguished Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr once claimed that he wouldn’t knock on a door to have it opened, preferring instead to kick it open. His career so far would appear to vindicate this approach.

Through his eight full-length films and four shorts, the film director continues to wander in a revealing, restless, fascinating yet also threatening universe. This week, Tarr is in Athens for a tribute to his work that will start tomorrow and run to the end of the month at the Trianon Filmcenter. The tribute will kick off with his latest film, “The Man from London,” which focuses on Maloin, the main character, a man who leads a simple life without any real prospects, at the end of an endless sea. “This story deals with issues that are both eternal and daily, divine and human. In my mind, it encompasses all of nature and man, including his pettiness,” says Tarr.

All of Tarr’s films will be screened at the Trianon, namely “Family Nest,” “Hotel Magnezit” (short), “The Outsider,” “The Prefab People,” “Macbeth,” “Almanac of Fall,” “Damnation,” “Utolso Hajo,” “Satantango,” “Journey on the Plain” (short), “Werckmeister Harmonies” and “Prologue,” from the “Visions of Europe.” Susan Sontag once said that Tarr does not present unconventional things, but exaggerates the norm.

Tarr has won awards from the American Cinema Foundation, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival.

Trianon Filmcenter, 21 Kodringtonos Street, Athens, tel 210 8215469 and 210 8222702. Nearest metro station [electric ISAP railway] “Victoria”.