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Raising a glass to Greek wine, spirits and beer March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences, Wine And Spirits.
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Oenorama Wine Exhibition offers a chance to taste a large variety of Greek and foreign wines

Held every other year, leading wine exhibition Oenorama is on this weekend at the MEC Exhibition Center in Paeania. Beginning today, the ninth edition of this major exhibition unites no fewer than 170 Greek winemakers – a record number which reflects the country’s current dynamic in the wine industry.

Organized by Vinetum, Oenorama brings together more than 250 exhibitors, including producers of wine, spirits and beer as well as a viti-vinicultural exhibition until Sunday. The trade show features established as well as emerging local winemakers. Also participating in the exhibition are 15 wine and spirit importing companies.

Following the exhibition’s last edition in 2006, the “Winetasting Square” returns to Oenorama. This time round, the space will have 300 top labels on display, with detailed information on each bottle. This tasting platform will enable Greek and foreign visitors to gain a comprehensive picture of Greek wine produce.

28-03-08_greek_wine.jpg  Besides increasing local amateur and professional interest, buyers and members of the press are expected from a number of countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, the USA, Canada, Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Slovenia. Also on the program of events, the showcasing of a grape-collecting machine which will be unveiled in Greece for the very first time, along with special tasting sessions and a lecture.

MEC Exhibition Center, 301 Lavriou Avenue, Paeania, Attica.

Related Links > www.oenorama.com

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Art Athina 2008 growing in stature > opens end of May March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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New plans announced for the annual, contemporary fair which is scheduled to open at the end of May

Art Athina, the capital’s contemporary art fair, attracts the local public as well as a number of international collectors. This year’s event will be held at the Helexpo grounds and will be even more extensive than last year’s event.

28-03-08_art_athina.jpg  Art Athina, the city’s contemporary art fair that is scheduled to open May 22, is one of the most happening and international events on the city’s contemporary art scene. At an informal meeting with members of the press, Art Athina’s Artistic Director Christos Savvidis and General Director Michalis Argyrou [essentially the event’s organizers], presented the main sections of the event, spoke with enthusiasm of their expectations of it and stressed the fact that this Athens art fair is gradually becoming a recognizable, international event with a growing, sound reputation.

The Hellenic Art Galleries Association has been the event’s organizing institution from the start. Savvidis and Argyrou are in charge of the Art Athina fair for the second consecutive year. Last year, the change of hands from the previous organizers to the current ones was one of the reasons that caused confusion and dissent. As a result, several Greek galleries refused to participate. However, last year’s success seems to have changed the negative attitude, bringing most of the dissenting galleries back to the event.

According to the organizers, another accomplishment is the fact that some of the most important, cutting-edge international galleries which participated in Art Athina for the first time last year have shown a willingness to participate at this year’s event as well: Peres projects from Germany, Monitor from Italy, Christian Nagel Gallery from Germany, and the Maag Gallery from Switzerland are among them.

Does that mean that Athens is coming to the attention of the international art market? According to Savvidis, Art Athina not only attracts Greek buyers but many international art collectors as well. To a certain extent, this is due to the work that has been put into the so-called VIP program, which aims at luring international buyers to the Athens art fair by organizing special events. Savvidis also noted that recent art events, such as the two contemporary art biennials held last year in Athens and Thessaloniki, have helped create a buzz around the contemporary art scene in Greece. He also said that the fact that Art Athina is relatively small in scale when compared to the big European art events means that it can retain a more homogenized and focused personality, something which adds to its attraction.

Held at the Helexpo building, as in previous years, the 2008 Art Athina will be based on the same idea as last year’s event: “Basic Plan”, the main exhibition hall, will include 45 booths by Greek and international galleries. Isabella Bortolozzi will curate an independent section. Presented on a different floor, “Open Plan” is a separate, large display in which the art shown and the galleries represented are selected by a specific art curator. For this year, the curator is Bettina Busse, who works with the Vienna Museum of Modern Art.

Sarah Belden who works with Curators without Borders – a platform for independent art curators based in Berlin – has prepared “Focus: Berlin-New York, First We Take Manhattan Then We Take Berlin”, a curatorial project that compares the contemporary art scenes of Berlin and New York City.

Art Athina also hosts a range of parallel projects, exhibitions that show the different facets of contemporary art. In the basement of the Helexpo building, Marina Fokidi has curated “The Garage Project”, an exhibition on the local contemporary art scene. Intended as a cool and hip exhibition, it encourages interaction and creates a relaxed, playful environment. Video art projections, for example, are designed in a way that resembles a summer, open-air cinema.

Also part of the “Parallel Projects” section of Art Athina is “Lion under the Rainbow: Art from Tehran”, an exhibition on contemporary Iranian art which is curated by artist Alexandros Georgiou and produced by D.ART. The exhibition will be held in a building in the city center [at 48-50 Aeolou Street, Athens].

“Elements of Light” curated by Boris Manner, professor at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts, is an exhibition that presents the works that the Russian artist Eugenia Emets and Austrian artist Markus Proschek produced during a residency on the island of Syros. The exhibition, held at the Hellenic American Union, is organized by the University of Applied Arts in collaboration with the Stella Art Foundation. Based on a Russian private art collection, this foundation is in the process of opening a Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. Savvidis has said that the Museum will be directed by Robert Storr, director of the Venice Biennale in 2007 and a former dean of the Yale School of Art. The foundation has acquired several works from Art Athina. Savvidis said that the new Museum will include a section on contemporary Greek art.

Also part of the parallel project events will be an exhibition that will present works from the Costakis Collection of early-20th-century Russian Avant-Garde. The State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, which owns the collection together with the Museum of Cycladic Art which will host the exhibition, are the organizers.

During the three-days of Art Athina, there will also be round-table discussions, art presentations and lectures by artists, collectors, gallerists and international curators. Independent curators Catherine David and Christian Viveros-Faune are among the participants.

By building an international network, Art Athina hopes to gradually give more exposure to Greek artists but to also offer the Greek public a more rounded view of the international art scene. Organizers seem confident that this is already well under way.

Art Athina 2008 will open on May 23 at the Helexpo Palace, 39 Kifissias Avenue, Maroussi, Athens and will be open to May 25.

Related Links > www.art-athina.gr

Greek film director Athanasios Karanikolas tribute in Athens March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Berlin based Greek film director Athanasios Karanikolas tribute in Athens

28-03-08_makra.jpg  A scene from “Elli Makra – 42277 Wuppertal”, which helped acquaint Greeks with the work of Athanasios Karanikolas.

28-03-08_karanikolas.jpg  Six films by the German-based film director will be screened at Bios in Athens this weekend as part of a focus on the artist co-organized by the Goethe Institute.

Athanasios Karanikolas, 40, studied photography, video and film in Germany, lives in Berlin, and already has eight years of completed work in short films, experimental projects, documentaries, video installations and one feature film behind him. We would have known nothing about him had he not taken part in last year’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival with “Elli Makra – 42277 Wuppertal”, a film that impressed and earned a Best Actress award for the role played by Anna Lalasidou.

Conceived and made in a minimalist fashion, the film is surprisingly deep in terms of how the actress manifests the inner world of the main character she portrays, a Greek immigrant living in Wuppertal, Germany, who is caught between superficial and violent worlds. Judging by his work, the filmmaker is open to poetic ways, experimentalism, new technology and the close observation of people in various living conditions.

Saturday and Sunday, Bios Venue, 84 Pireos Street, Athens. Six films by Athanasios Karanikolas will be projected. A parallel video installation by the artist will remain on show for an additional week, until April 7.

Art Festival for Human Rights triggers dialogue March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Festivals.
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The neighborhood of Exarchia in central Athens is about to be transformed into an alternative art center for a week.

Different kinds of art, including painting, street art, photography, installations and video screenings, will take over the block surrounded by Arachovis, Themistocleous, Coletti and Zoodochou Pigis Streets, as the second “Wo + Man =?” festival kicks off tonight.

Organized by the Open Horizons organization as part of the 6th Art Festival for Human Rights, this year’s event will explore sexuality, gender and identity issues. With the focus being on street art, 40 artists will redefine the use of public space as a venue for communicating with the public, by selecting outdoor and indoor spaces of bars, restaurants, cafes and other stores to exhibit their work. By exploring the possibilities that public and private venues can offer, they are hoping to send out a message about art and society. The aim is to create a bridge of communication with visitors and passers-by and trigger dialogue and a collective conscience.

28-03-08_human_rights.jpg  The festival’s central venue will be the Cosmos of Culture Center on the corner of Andrea Metaxa and Emmanouil Benaki Streets. That is where the official opening will take place, at 7 p. m. today and where information regarding all of the scheduled events will be available. Cosmos of Culture will also host all the video screenings.

Participating artists include Alexandros Avranas, Artemis Alkalai, Alma Bakiaj, Margarita Gelada, Giorgos Gyparakis, Antigone Kavvatha, Anna Laskari, Caroline May, Costas Beveratos, Giorgos Tserionis, Dorota Zglobicka, Ioanna Ximeri, Vangelis Raftogiannis and many others. The event was conceived and curated by Costas Theonas.

The festival will run until Sunday, April 5 and will be open daily 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to all venues is free. For further information call 210 3303385 or 210 8846038.

Related Links > www.humanrights.gr and www.cosmosofculture.gr

Greece’s Alpha Bank to buy Ukraine’s Astra Bank March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Alpha Bank, Greece’s third-largest lender, said yesterday it had reached a deal to buy a majority stake in newly established OJSC Astra Bank in Ukraine as part of plans to expand in the region.

Alpha Bank said it had agreed to buy 90 percent of Astra Bank at a price reflecting Astra’s equity capital of 9 million euros ($14.2 million). “With this acquisition, Alpha Bank gains a presence in a fast-growing market in one of the largest countries in Southeastern Europe,” the lender said.

Astra Bank plans to set up a nationwide branch network by 2010, targeting 50 branches by the end of this year, which will mean an investment of 130 million euros. Ukraine’s banking market has been on the radar screen of other Greek banks as well.

Greece lies high on EU list of poor March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Living, Shows & Conferences.
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One in three Greeks does not have access to basic food and clothing, as Greece is home to the second-largest population of poor people in the European Union, on a relative basis.

Nearly 23 percent of Greeks live below the poverty line, ranking Greece in second place on the EU’s list of poorest populations. Portugal has top spot. The minimum monthly salary paid for unskilled work in Greece is 626 euros versus an EU average of 1,160 euros.

Meanwhile, the sixth forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP), being held in Athens, entered its second day yesterday.

“The forum… signals the transfer of responsibility for poverty eradication from central to local government, establishing municipalities as determinant factors of development, on both a local and national level,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

Participants in the forum, which winds up today, exchanged views on the role of local government and its increased responsibility in the development of initiatives for getting rid of poverty.

Illegal drug trade flourishing in Greece March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness, Police & Crime.
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The illegal drug trade is flourishing in Greece, thanks to a “pyramid” system of dealers and middlemen that is perpetuated and protected by a network of friends and associates, a new study has shown.

One of the most shocking findings of the study – a collaboration between drug addicts, support organization staff, policemen, lawyers and journalists – is that the average dealers are family men. Most of these dealers push about 1 to 2 kilos at a time to mediators who then sell smaller quantities to users. The study also found that the average middlemen are foreigners with low incomes.

The most fertile ground for drug-dealing networks are industrial areas with ample storage and logistics facilities, it was revealed. As for the trade in drugs, busy urban areas are the most promising for would-be dealers. In Athens, central Omonia Square is like a “department store” for drugs, with different groups of pushers offering various narcotics at different times of day, the study said. Many Athens nightclubs also tolerate the illegal drug trade on their premises, the study found. According to Sofia Vidali, a criminology professor who led the study, drug dealing is not only flourishing in clubs but also in schools and offices in certain neighborhoods where dealers have a heightened presence.

As for prevention, police efforts have not been particularly effective, according to the study, which noted that only 10 to 20 percent of drugs circulating on the market actually fall into police hands. According to Nikos Paraskevopoulos, a lecturer on criminal law at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, new legislation is not needed. It would be enough if existing legislation was enforced, he said.