jump to navigation

Art exhibition presents history through subjective stories March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

Despina Meimaroglou and Deimantas Narkevicius at Thessaloniki’s SMCA

26-03-08_genius_seculi1.jpg  An image from the video ‘Disappearance of a Tribe’ by Deimantas Narkevicius. 

26-03-08_genius_seculi2.jpg  A photograph from Despina Meimaroglou’s project inspired by her trip to Cambodia.

During a trip to Cambodia three years ago, artist Despina Meimaroglou visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the capital Phnom Penh. Originally a school, it had been converted into a torture site during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime before much later becoming a Museum.

Impressed by the numbers of young students waiting to visit the former torture chambers, Meimaroglou began thinking about rememberance and the strong effect that certain historical events can have on our lives. Her visit to Cambodia provided one more occasion to ponder on politics and history, steady subject matter in the work of this politically oriented artist. Upon her return, and still deeply stressed by the strong effect that the visit to the Genocide Museum had on her, Meimaroglou began work on a new project.

“Discovering the Other – Tuol Sleng, After all who Rewrites History after You” the title of the art installation that ensued after the artist’s visit to Cambodia, is one of the artist’s two works presented in “Genius Seculi”, a joint exhibition on the work of Meimaroglou and the well-known Lithuanian artist Deimantas Narkevicius, who represented his country at the 2001 Venice Biennale. The exhibition is organized by the Center of Contemporary Art, a section of the Thessaloniki State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) and curated by Syrago Tsiara, the Center’s Director.

Meimaroglou and Narkevicius both share an interest in exploring issues related to history and politics through personal narratives. They both view history through subjective, individual stories and explore the interplay between the personal and the collective.

Narkevicius raises issues related to his country’s recent history and uses film and video in the style of a documentary. “Once in the XX Century”, a film presented in the Thessaloniki exhibit, is a montage of footage documenting the tearing down of public sculpture during the period of the early 1990s when Soviet control of Lithuania came to an end. The overpowering presence of the sculpture is a metaphor for the staying effects of the Soviet regime. According to the artist, it suggests that the immediate changes that everybody hoped for were not effected, that the “utopia of liberalism, which then seemed the only way” did not become a reality.

The work of Narkevicius speaks of the importance of thinking about recent history in a critical and profound way. His work suggests that being oblivious to historical events is at the expense of awareness of both history and oneself.

In the video “Dissapearance of a Tribe”, Narkevicius reflects on the history of his country from the 1950s to today through a selection of images taken from his family photo album. Again, his work examines the ways in which the large events of history trickle down into the lives of people or how personal stories reflect broader, historical events.

This quest is also to be found in the work of Meimaroglou. In the video installation “Annette McGavigan: A Personal Story becomes History” Meimaroglou tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who was killed by British soldiers during the traumatic Bloody Sunday events in Northern Ireland in 1972. After a chance meeting with the victim’s brother in Athens a few years ago, Meimaroglou began collecting all sorts of archival material on this relatively recent chapter of Northern Ireland’s history.

Her work engages the notion of historical memory. The artist pays tribute to the anonymous victims of violence and tragic historical events. Both her work and the work of Narkevicius are a reminder that history is a living experience that shapes the present and our self-understanding.

“Genius Seculi” at the SMCA, Thessaloniki, to 30 April. For information call 2310 546683.

Related Links > www.cact.gr

http://www.greekstatemuseum.com

http://www.emst.gr

Advertisements

A solo photo show at the Benaki Museum March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

A few years ago, Pavlos Kozalides traveled the region of the Black Sea in order to document the lives of the area’s Greeks. In many ways, it was voyage in search of his own roots. Of Pontic descent himself, he grew up listening to his family talk about their lives in Ordu, Turkey, before the 1923 exchange of populations.

Kozalides visited Ordu as well as other regions of Turkey but also traveled to Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. The photographs he produced, on a commission from the Benaki Museum, are exhibited in “Pavlos Kozalides: Seeking a Lost Homeland”, an exhibition curated by the artist and on display at the main building of the Benaki Museum, while the Museum’s Photographic Archives is the organizer.

Kozalides seeks out those aspects of Greek tradition that still survive in the communities of Greeks living in the Black Sea and draws attention to an important but somewhat neglected part of the Greek diaspora.

Born in Piraeus in 1961, Kozalides moved with his family to Canada when he was 7. He started working as a photographer in the 1980s, upon his permanant return to Greece. He has traveled extensively, photographing different parts of the world. The Benaki exhibition is the first public presentation of his work.

“Pavlos Kozalides: Seeking a Lost Homeland”, Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari Street, Athens, tel 210 3671000. To April 13.

Related Links > www.benaki.gr

Ancient Cycladic civilization meets modern Beijing March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Hellenic Light Asia.
Tags: , , , , , ,
comments closed

Archaeological exhibition will open on April 3

24-03-08_cycladic.jpg  A marble female figurine from the early Cycladic II period, circa 2700-2300 BC.

With the Olympic Games in Beijing almost upon us, the Chinese capital is getting ready to welcome some of the wonders of one of Europe’s oldest civilizations. “The Cyclades: Masterpieces of an Aegean Culture” is an archaeological exhibition that will go on display at Beijing’s Imperial City Art Museum on April 3 and is scheduled to run to May 15.

On loan from the Museum of Cycladic Art and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, figurines, tools and pots, dating to the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, are set to travel to China for the first time. The exhibition is part of the ongoing Cultural Year of Greece in China, which started last September and includes more interesting cultural events.

“This is the first archaeological exhibition of the Cultural Year of Greece in China,” said Sandra Marinopoulou, the new President of the N.P. Goulandris Foundation [who took over after the death of Dolly Goulandris], at a recent press conference. She pointed out that a display of artifacts from the ancient Cycladic civilization – the culture that flourished on the islands of the Cyclades – is of particular importance in a country that has not had much contact with Greek culture, because the exhibits are highly reminiscent of modern artworks by 20th-century artists whom they have inspired.

24-03-08_cycladic_art.jpg  The exhibits have been carefully arranged so as to reflect a sense of familiarity, as Nikolaos Stambolidis, Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, explained. “We had at our disposal a huge space with glass displays which could have made the few statuettes almost disappear,” said Bessy Drouga from the National Archaeological Museum. Yet the opposite effect was achieved, since the exhibition has been enriched with maps of Europe as well as colors reminiscent of the Aegean Sea. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog in Chinese and English.

Situated in the center of Beijing, in Chang Pu He Park, the Imperial City Art Museum opened its gates to the public in June 2003. The two-floor structure houses traditional Chinese art but is also keen on showcasing international artwork.

Further events organized in the context of the Cultural Year of Greece in China, as Sofoklis Psilianos, general secretary for the Olympic Utilization explained, include an exhibition of costumes from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, a large exhibition in collaboration with Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, a performance of Dimitris Papaioannou’s staging of “Medea” as well as Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax” by the Attis Theater, among other activities.

New theater places emphasis on technology March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Arts Events Greece, Arts Museums, Stage & Theater.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

23-03-08_theatron1.jpg  The Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center welcomes the Theatron [Theater]

23-03-08_theatron2.jpg  A digital view of the venue’s main hall, the Antigone, which can be transformed in 12 different ways so as to cater to all kinds of performances as well as conferences.

As of yesterday, the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center on Pireos Street can boast a new acquisition. The brand new theater, called the Theatron, makes its debut with a show commemorating the venue’s 10th anniversary, directed by Yiannis Kakleas. Fully equipped with the latest technology, the Theatron promises to become yet another cultural landmark on this fast-developing part of Pireos Street.

23-03-08_ime1.jpg  It comes just a year after the opening of the Tholos, the Hellenic Cosmos’s striking virtual-reality theater.

A guided tour of the theater on Tuesday revealed a highly efficient building with a high degree of functional diversity. Seating that can be re-arranged in various ways, excellent acoustics and sound-proofing and a stage with multiple possibilities are just some of the theater’s many features. “The sound-proofing is so good that theoretically we could have a rock concert downstairs and a poetry reading upstairs,” joked Dimitris Efraimoglou, Managing Director of the Foundation of the Hellenic World, the institution that has founded the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center, at the press conference.

23-03-08_theatron3.jpg  The three-level theater has two halls: the main one, Antigone, can be transformed in 12 different ways and can host anything from a theater performance to a large conference. The second, Iphigenia, can be used independently but can also open onto the main hall. Additional features include three foyers that can host exhibitions and other performances, rooms for rehearsals and a garage that will eventually have a 1000-car capacity. “We want to offer a hospitable venue to actors and dancers,” said Efraimoglou. He explained that the theater’s emphasis is on technology and one of the aims is to enable artists to combine live action with digital technology.

According to Thrasyvoulos Giatsios, program director of Hellenic Cosmos, the venue will focus mostly on contemporary spectacles and young artists without, however, excluding more classic-themed repertoires. “With the exception of our first performance, we will not host our own productions. We are interested in working with institutions that bring ensembles from abroad,” he said. Theater and dance shows as well as concerts by local and foreign artists will find a home at the Theatron. Giatsios did not rule out the possibility of booking the theater for an entire season for just one production, although there is a preference for ensembles giving a limited number of shows.

23-03-08_ime2.jpg  The program has yet to be announced, but there will be collaborations with the Attiki Cultural Society, the company that has brought actors such as Charlotte Rampling, Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant to Athens, a concert organized by the Athens College Alumni and a tribute to the work of lyricist Lina Nikolakopoulou.

“The Theatron is ideal for directors who love technology. You can experiment with mixed media on body movement, music and vocals without losing the warm atmosphere of traditional theaters” said director Yiannis Kakleas. “Personally, I love multimedia productions. So many possibilities open up when live action co-exists with different kinds of sets thanks to virtual reality. Within the context of theater or dance you can create a visually beautiful show. Most theaters don’t have the structure for that. But this one does.”

The opening performance, which bears Kakleas’s signature, is a tribute to the past, present and future of the Foundation of the Hellenic World featuring live music by Haris Alexiou, among other things. It premiered yesterday and will be staged again tonight.

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

An exhibition of photographs on fire-stricken Ileia March 22, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

Exhibition of before-and-after images of fire-stricken Ileia at the Gaia Center

An exhibition of photographs by Katerina Aidoni titled “A View of Ileia, Before and After”, that is, before and after last summer’s forest fires – opened at the Gaia Center last night to mark World Forestry Day celebrated on March 21.

The exhibition was launched last night by Niki Goulandris, head of the Goulandris Natural History Museum and its board. The photograph featured here shows the Hill of Cronus, Ancient Olympia, as it is now. The fires that engulfed the prefecture of Ileia threatened the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony but fortunately the gods of Olympus intervened and saved the site.

The Gaia Center, 100 Othonos Street, Kifissia, Athens.

Related Links > http://www.gnhm.gr/MuseumSelect.aspx?lang=en-US

World’s momentum growing for Parthenon Marbles’ return March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

World’s momentum is growing for the return of the prized Parthenon marbles, taken from the Athens Acropolis some 200 years ago by Britain’s Lord Elgin, as major Museums handed back more ancient objects.

Museums around the world have in recent years started returning ancient artefacts to their countries of origin and have tightened checks on acquisitions to avoid buying objects that were illegally excavated or smuggled abroad.

20-03-08_acropolis_new_museum.jpg  “More and more Museums are adopting tighter ethics codes and governments promote bilateral and international cooperation (for the return of ancient objects),” Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told an international conference at the new Acropolis Museum. “So an ideal momentum is being created … for clear solutions on this issue,” he said.

The trend towards returning artefacts was strengthened by the high-profile affair involving former J. Paul Getty Museum curator Marion True and smuggled artefacts that were acquired by the Museum. Italy dropped a legal case against the Getty Museum last year after the institution agreed to return 40 items Rome believed had been stolen and smuggled out of the country, and the Getty has returned several such items to Greece. Both Italy and Greece have charged True with offences linked to trafficking in antiquities. She denies any wrongdoing. New York’s Metropolitan Museum has returned a prized 2,500-year-old vase to Italy, which recently displayed nearly 400 looted ancient objects that have been recovered in the past three years.

20-03-08_parthenon_marbles.jpg  The Parthenon marble friezes and sculptures were removed [stolen] from the Acropolis above Athens by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, with permission from the Ottoman Empire officials then in power. Lord Elgin acquired his collection between 1801 and 1810. It was bought by the British Museum in 1816. The Museum refuses to return them to Greece on the ground that its statutes do not allow it to do so.

Liapis told the conference “This museum is ready to embrace all important artefacts taken from the sacred rock of the Acropolis and I hope the same goes for the foreign-based Parthenon marbles… so the unity of the sculptures can be restored.”

Britain said for many years that the marbles were better preserved in London than in Athens’ polluted air. Greece has said this argument is now obsolete given the completion of the new Acropolis state-of-the-art Museum, where an empty gallery awaits the Parthenon marbles.

Athens conference told of artifacts looted March 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Shows & Conferences.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Antiquities smuggling is helping to finance terror > Athens conference told of artifacts looted in war-torn regions

19-03-08_entrance_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  The entrance of the new Acropolis Museum, which this week hosted a UNESCO-organized conference on the return of antiquities to their country of origin. The fate of antiquities looted from Iraq was in the spotlight yesterday at a UNESCO-sponsored conference in Athens on the return of cultural property.

When Baghdad fell to the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein, the world watched in horror as looters ransacked the museum that housed some of the nation’s most prized treasures. Today, trafficking of stolen Iraqi antiquities is helping to finance al-Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militias, according to the US investigator who led the probe into the looting of the National Museum.

United States Marine Reserve Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, a New York assistant district attorney called up to duty shortly after 9/11, said that while kidnappings and extortion remain insurgents’ main source of funds, the link between terrorism and antiquities smuggling has become “undeniable.”

“The Taliban are using opium to finance their activities in Afghanistan,” Bogdanos told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of the conference. “Well, they don’t have opium in Iraq. What they have is an almost limitless supply of antiquities. And so they’re using antiquities.”

The murky world of antiquities trafficking extends across the globe and is immensely lucrative, private collectors can pay tens of millions of dollars for the most valuable artifacts. It’s almost impossible to put an authoritative monetary value on Iraqi antiquities. But as an indication, the colonel said one piece looted from the National Museum – an 8th-century-BC Assyrian ivory carving of a lioness attacking a Nubian boy, overlaid with gold and inlaid with lapis lazuli – could sell for $100 million.

Bogdanos, 51, an amateur boxer with a master’s degree in classics who won the Bronze Star fighting in Afghanistan, said it was not until late 2004 “that we saw the use of antiquities in funding initially the Sunnis and al-Qaida in Iraq, and now the Shiite militias.”

Although security has improved dramatically in Iraq since mid-2007, the country is still violence-ridden, and it is all but impossible for Iraq’s 1,500 archaeological guards to protect the country’s more than 12,000 archaeological sites.

“Unauthorized excavations are proliferating throughout the world, especially in conflict zones,” Francoise Riviere, the assistant director-general of UNESCO’s cultural branch, said at the conference. She said UNESCO was deeply concerned about the “decimation” of Iraq’s cultural heritage. “The damage inflicted on the National Museum in Baghdad, the increasingly precarious state and the systematic pillage of sites are alarming facts which are a great challenge to the international community,” Riviere said.

Bahaa Mayah, an adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told the conference that looters sometimes use heavy machinery to dig up artifacts – destroying the site while they loot. He decried a lack of cooperation among some European countries, which he refused to name, in returning trafficked goods seized from smugglers. “We are facing now, especially in Europe, tremendous difficulties in recovering our objects that are seized,” he said.

Bogdanos said smuggling networks did not appear with or after the war. “It’s a pre-existing infrastructure; looting’s been going on forever.”

But it was in the days after the fall of Baghdad in March 2003 that the National Museum was looted. The United States came under intense criticism for not protecting the museum, a treasure trove of antiquities. Bogdanos said that according to the latest inventories, a total of about 15,000 artifacts were stolen. Of those, about 4,000 have been returned to the museum, and a total of about 6,000 have been recovered.

Much of the museum’s looting was carried out by insiders and senior government officials of the time, said Bogdanos, who co-authored a book about the investigation, “Thieves of Baghdad” with William Patrick. Royalties from the book are donated to the museum. Bogdanos said not enough is being done by organizations such as UNESCO to protect Iraq’s heritage. “There’s no other way to say it. There’s a vacuum at the top,” he said.