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Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery II March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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30-03-08_flame8.jpg  Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of the high priestess lights the altar with the Olympic flame at Athen’s Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008, during the handover ceremony.

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30-03-08_flame10.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, at the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008. 

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30-03-08_flame12.jpg  The cauldron with the Olympic flame burns as spectators watch at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium on Sunday, March 30, 2008. The flame was handed over to the 2008 Beijing Olympics organizers.

30-03-08_flame13.jpg  President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou, handed over the Olympic Flame to Beijings’s Organizing Committee.

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Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery I March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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30-03-08_flame1.jpg  Mayor of Marathonas Spiros Zagaris (left) kindles a torch from the Olympic flame basin during the sixth day of the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in Marathonas of Greece, March 29, 2008.

30-03-08_flame2.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen at the Athens Acropolis, 29 March 2008. More than 2,000 uniformed and undercover police have been deployed in the Greek capital to secure the official handover of the Olympic flame, which arrived on the ancient Acropolis in Athens yesterday, ending the Greek leg of the torch relay before being flown to China.

30-03-08_flame3.jpg  Entrance to the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held.

30-03-08_flame4.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 30 March 2008.

30-03-08_flame5.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008.

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Olympic Flame handed over to China March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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Thousands of spectators gathered in Athens for Sunday’s handover ceremony of the Olympic flame to organizers of the Beijing Games.

30-03-08_panathinaic_stadium.jpg  The Olympic Flame has been officially handed over to Chinese officials. The ceremony took place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, amid tight security. It comes as demonstrations continue in numerous countries over China’s deadly crackdown on protesters in Tibet. On Saturday EU Foreign Ministers agreed on a joint response. The bloc called for an end to violence and urged China to hold talks on Tibetan cultural and religious rights.

However, the Ministers avoided any mention of the Beijing Olympics or calls for EU countries to boycott the opening ceremony in Beijing. A small group of pro-Tibet activists tried to stop the flame from reaching the stadium but were held back by police. Demonstrations were also held in other parts of Athens.

30-03-08_athens_torch1.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators cheered as Greek triple jumper Hrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium, lined with the flags of both countries.

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30-03-08_athens_torch3.jpg  Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on.

“It was an emotional experience for me,” Devetzi said. “I hope the flame will bring light to all athletes, especially those from Greece and that everything with the Games goes well.”

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Minos Kyriakou, delivered the flame to chief Beijing organizer Liu Qi. The torch later left Athens on a specially equipped Air China flight expected to arrive in Beijing on Monday.

Witnesses say the protesters, waving Tibetan flags and chanting anti-Chinese slogans, were arrested in Athens Sunday while trying to break through police lines to stop a runner carrying the torch from reaching the handover site. Hundreds of Greek police officers were on alert, after sporadic protests last week along the torch relay route from ancient Olympia.

The torch will be flown from Athens to Beijing, where runners will carry it across much of the world in the run-up to the August Summer Games. Pro-Tibetan activists have vowed to shadow the torch on its journey. On one leg of the route, the torch is set to pass through Tibet on its way to Mt. Everest. Human rights groups are demanding a ban on that part of the journey, until Beijing agrees to permit an international investigation of the Tibetan unrest.

More photos from today’s ceremony follow shortly. Stay tuned!

First for Cyprus as local site offers music downloads March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Games & Gadgets, Media Radio TV, Music Life Greek.
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A digital music service provider for music downloads has teamed up with the Dias Group, one of the biggest media groups in Cyprus.

The new service, www.music.sigmalive.com, offers current and classic Greek music as well as a plethora of genres and categories to satisfy to the most selective fans.

www.Music.sigmalive.com will be the first digital music service designed for Cyprus by mpGreek, offering more than 70,000 Greeks songs available for download.

It will allow users to download music onto their computers from the largest Greek digital catalogue, powered by mpGreek. It has all the features of online previewing, secure payments, digital rights management and full online customer service support.

According to a press release, “mpGreek has simplified the user experience with more features and even more content. Consumers can easily buy music encoded in high audio quality from major and independent record labels. Users can rate the songs they see on sigmalive.com and send an e-dedication email with an audio preview and a small note to any email address.”

Prices are 1.10 euro per track. Purchased downloads can be burned onto CDs, transferred to compatible portable devices, and used on up to ten PCs.

“For quite some time, the Cyprus market has been in need of a legal way to download music,” said Michael Rizos, mpGreek business development director. “The music industry of Cyprus has been affected by internet piracy and consumers could not buy Greek repertory online. At mpGreek we believe that our collaboration with a group of such prestige and scope as Dias, means that the Greek musical range will be sold with great success at sigmalive.com, a compact and informed portal.”

Also commenting was Sillia Vasiliou, Web Manager of Sigma Radio TV Public Ltd. “Sigma Live is the only legal site in Cyprus and the island’s first complete internet portal. As our slogan says, it has everything.” She said that the internet, “has transformed how we share information. From illegal downloads of music and video to illicit DVDs and counterfeit designer goods, there isn’t anything that’s not being replicated illegally.

“Internet piracy can be viewed as a method of not paying and those in favour simply see themselves as ‘information sharers’. It is a fact that people don’t want to pay high legitimate prices, so they often go to pirate sites. On the other hand, iTunes is now the third-largest seller of music in the US reporting worldwide sales exceeding three billion songs. And the growth-rate of digital-music transactions is significant.”

Included on the Sigma site is live streaming video and audio, podcasts and much more, giving the user the possibility to legally own the digital Greek music he or she loves.
Visitors to the site can also enjoy continuous news, sport, lifestyle and business updates, as well as interact and express their views. “We position Sigma Live as a one-stop information and entertainment online shop,” Vasiliou said.

In at the deep end of light water March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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In Cyprus four Paphos-based British artists exhibit works that centre around the theme of water.

The state of art today is such that it can now be created by amateurs with virtually no study, preparation or training. In galleries and exhibition spaces, the amateur aesthete can now compete on equal terms with the masters.

Paphos, in particular, has experienced a full-on amateur take over and with so many new artists now resident there all busy making so much art in so many different ways, no one can possibly make sense of it all. It seems every village has its own art gallery, though few, if any, display much in the way of art that you could stand to look at for long, nothing displayed is made to sustain you, and rarely are you seduced with work that is turbulent, elusive, bold, exhilarating or recklessly new. This is indeed the land of the bland.

The latest exhibition to hit the Paphos scene is a collection of art that will hopefully draw a clear line between the professional and amateur status. A Paphos-based British quartet have recently created a form of watery symbiosis, as artists Keith Walker, Mary Lynne Stadler, Raymond Wilson and Elizabeth Walker launch an exhibition that takes the theme of water and light. Water has no colour of its own so provides the chance for these artists to express an interesting range of emotions. Also water has no form so it’s a technical challenge to describe a convincing physical depth, there’s no gravity, which makes for unique underwater poses by the models just because of their weightlessness.

Retired art teacher Keith Walker was the one who set things in motion when, in 2007, he was loaned an underwater digital camera, making it possible for him to at long last capture the play of sunlight through seawater onto the human body. He then translated these underwater photographic images onto canvas, superimposing layers of thin glazes using a mix of acrylic and oils. His work does indeed evoke the wonderful, ever changing dappled sunlight as it swirls and ripples across the surface of the sea onto the contours of submerged swimmers. At the same time he manages to reflect the wonderful feeling of utter weightlessness experienced by the human form when immersed in our clear blue waters. “I had been trying for years to capture this imagery on camera but it’s only since I acquired a digital camera I was able to freeze that moment and get that wonderful balance of pattern, light and shadow and then use paint to recreate my own visual interpretation,” he said.

Raymond and Elizabeth Walker also acted as the underwater photographic models, and it is Raymond’s paintings and interpretations of life under the surface of the water which may prove to be the most unusual, with his work hopefully leaving a lingering thought or two when you exit the venue. He consistently uses a more narrative feel, visual short stories with an underlying psychological tension and the odd hint of psycho sexual nightmares.

Elizabeth uses the medium of photography and the images look eerily akin to a series of preliminary Henry Moore sketches, and I would strongly urge any innovative owners of a night club or cafe bar to swiftly snap up her evocative images then blow them up to use as stunning pieces of photographic wall art.

Mary Lynne Stadler is a talented lithographer and painter. Here she delves deep into a sort of mythological sea world, her vibrant palette fairly pushing the idea that underneath those sun-kissed waves lays a glorious, secret fantasy world.

Those trotting down to the Kyklos Gallery won’t be overly confused, won’t feel stupid, or intimidated by the art on show, it’s as honest as it can be and the four artists presenting their work genuinely believe in what they are doing. After all, who really knows what is or not serious art, what will or will not be taken seriously one day.

Light Water > Exhibition by four artists Keith Walker, Mary Lynne Stadler, Raymond Wilson and Elizabeth Walker. April 5 to 18. Kyklos Gallery, 6 Minoos Street, Kato Paphos, tel 26 936 681. 10am-1pm 4pm-7pm. Closed Saturday pm and Sunday. 

Yours sincerely March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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An exhibition of works of art collected by one of the island’s banks over the last 25 years goes on show in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Laiki Marfin Bank has spent the last 25 years collecting works of art, a selection of which has been included in “Yours Sincerely”, an exhibition opening this week. But there is so much on display, so many items, that you might say the exhibition doesn’t consist of paintings and sculptures, just things, or, in Foucault’s terms, objects.

Foucault used to say that a postmodern artist is one who does not like to be labelled, not even understood really. Once you know what to expect from him, he will change style, just to impress. These artists are secretive and their art is a secret. One of their principles, as Boulez stressed, is to represent what in art is usually only referred to, hidden, unnamed. Metaphors, for example, allegories, or symbols all point to something outside the canvas. In postmodern art there are no such things and there is not an outside.

That is not to say that the contemporary artist does not want to communicate: on the contrary, he wants to be just like the observer, and he wants the observer to be just like him. When the artist sets out to compose his work, he struggles to come to terms with his background, his education, he wants to be a virgin when it comes to inspiration and he does not like anyone to be able to name his predecessors. It is as if he is trading places with the audience and when he displays his work he wants to see the same puzzled eyes, the same effort in understanding, or, rather, shaping the object in front of him, just like a creator shapes his work.

Something has to be said, again, about the hosting of exhibitions at the Nicosia Municipal Art Centre. The spatial disposition is not great and the viewer sometimes struggles to separate one work of art from another. Brown sculptures, such as the interesting “Mother/Life cycle” by Angelos Makrides, are set against a brown background, in this case the polymorphic, Medusa-like painting “Roots” by Andreas Charalambides. Sculptures and objects are set in curious, not always efficient, ways although it must be said that many sculptors seem to have intended their work more as an “alto-rilievo” than as a 360° volume, Koumides’ “Folding Screen” is an example.

In general, it is not clear why certain works of art have been put next to one another. It is not chronological, nor chromatic, it has nothing to do with similar art tendencies nor with art schools.

In the first room, after the welcoming room with the candidly ironic “The canticle of the Muses” by Klitsa Antoniou, are many of Theodoulos Gregoriou’s creations. This artist shows a consistency in his calm inspiration that has not abandoned him through the years. His paintings look like sculptures and the sculptures are pure pictorial forms.

In the other rooms the works are all of a good level. A work by Umit Inatchi, certainly not one of his best, still sets the standard for the only true and valuable abstract, symbolic work on the island. I cannot stress enough how much Greek and Cypriot artists become original when they go back to their origins. Some of them believe that they need to be European to be modern, au contraire, I find that Yiannacouris’ “Archaic figures”, a work almost 30 years old now, is more modern, more accomplished than any attempt or wink at cosmopolitan modernity. The puzzling “Where is my head II” by Yioula Hadjigeorghiou sounds, and looks, like a practical joke, not a work of art. Instead, Yiannacouris’ double figures, hieratic, old but at the same time modern stand tall and can even display the pleasure of playing with materials, faking the veins of a piece of marble, hinting to the pleats of fabric.

Another good example is Charalambides’ “Roots”, scary as the Medusa’s head in Rubens’ famous portrait and narrative like a contemporary short story about the drowning of the past. I would like to conclude with the sarcasm in Angelos Makrides’ “White Conspirators” because sarcasm is such an important trait in contemporary art, and something, along with irony, especially self-irony, so absent in Greek-Cypriot art. It is a circular sculpture of black and white pigeon-like objects, the black ones encompassing the white ones. Solitary, outside the circle, an object with wings, the only one with wings, observes the scene. The artist and the observer finally meet and they are one and the same.

Yours Sincerely > Selections from the Marfin Laiki Bank Art Collection. Until April 20. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Old Power House, 19 Apostolou Varnava Street, Nicosia. Wednesday-Saturday 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm. Sunday 10am-4pm. For information call 22 7974000.

Hellenic parade celebrates Greek independence in San Francisco March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Some celebrants were dressed like heroic Greek freedom fighters from the early 19th century. Others donned the colorful, festive costumes of traditional dancers.

The Hellenic Cultural Parade in downtown San Francisco on Saturday culminated a weeklong celebration of all things Greek, from music to politics, history, philosophy, religion and food.

Led by a contingent of police officers on horseback, the parade drew sparse crowds along Market Street on its way to City Hall, but the revelers’ effusive spirit and cultural icons shone through.

“This is our way to remember and celebrate,” said George Katsoulis, an Oakland resident who carried the Olympic torch in the ancient Greek city of Argos in 2004. “To commemorate Greek independence day in any way is an honor. The music, the dance, the remembrance of our ancestors.” Katsoulis strode up Market Street, holding two symbols of peace, an olive branch in one hand and an unlit Olympic torch from 2004 in the other. Christine Diacou Hay of San Francisco revealed her Greek roots by shouting “Hronia pola!” – or long life, to the torch bearer.

This year’s celebration marked the 187th anniversary of Greek independence, dating to when rebels began their fight for independence after centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.

“It was the beginning in Europe of nations waking up to self-determination, freedom, choice and democracy,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Gerasimos, who leads 175,000 Greek Orthodox faithful in seven Western states, wore a traditional black robe similar to those worn by Greek clergy when the church was suppressed by the Ottomans.

Jim Vorrises, Vice President of the United Hellenic Federation of California, said: “Every year we celebrate the same event, remembering the fight of our forefathers to secure independence and freedom of the Greek nation. Those people had faith in God, faith in themselves and destiny.”

This was the 10th annual celebration of its kind in San Francisco, though others said the local tradition of marking Greek independence goes back for decades.

Among the highlights of this year’s celebration was a float bearing a replica of the Acropolis, or Sacred rock, of Athens, with four Greek muses in white gowns, smiling and waving to the crowd. Another float featured a mockup of a wooden boat, variously described as the ship sailed by Ulysses. 

Near the steps of City Hall, hundreds of spectators were serenaded by a vibrant Greek solo. Dancers in ceremonial costumes from the Island of Crete performed before a reviewing stand filled with dignitaries including Xenia Stefanidou, the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.

“They feel proud of their ethnicity,” said journalist Savas Deligiorgis, who presents a Greek American program on KVTO-AM 1400, a San Francisco radio station, “because they always fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Ted Giouzelis of San Leandro, who was born in Sparta and raised in Athens, praised people of Greek ancestry as “hospitable, hardworking and lovers of knowledge.”