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Exploring gender issues at Bios April 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An intriguing festival organized by the Goethe institutes of Southeastern Europe comes to Athens > Berliner Joy Gutthardt’s performances explore stereotypes of the female gender. The artist is one of many German performers who will be coming to Athens for the Genderpop festival this week.

An unusual festival featuring cinema, performance art, video installations, live music shows and contemporary dance kicked off at downtown Bios yesterday. What brings all the different artistic genres together? A look at the role of the sexes and people’s identity.

The series of events comes as an initiative of the Goethe Institutes based in Southeastern Europe, the cultural centers are currently approaching the issue of gender, participating in a contemporary and global discussion on the socially predetermined, fabricated and stereotyped roles of the sexes.

Many are already acquainted with so-called gender studies, in the last few decades alone, they have made their presence increasingly felt in university programs around the world. Perhaps those familiar with these developments on the academic front will have a clearer picture of what lies ahead at Bios this week.

They may have also heard of Judith Butler, the American writer and professor at California’s Berkeley, author of “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.” Published in 1990, the book examined the notion of sex as a role. A feminist, Butler put forward the idea that a person’s sex identity has to do with specific moments and actions, she called it gender performativity. Difficult ideas to deal with back then, and not much has changed.

Don’t worry about the academic aspect however when it comes to the Bios events this week. The festival kicked off with a screening of Athanasios Karanikolas’s “S” and continues with short films shot by Jan Kruger between 2000 and 2007, along with a collection of films by Ula Stokl and Edgar Reitz from 1970.

Besides cinema, Genderpop, the three-day program starts in the Bios foyer on Friday, featuring art and music videos, performances, concerts and DJ sets. Among the guests is Berliner Joy Gutthardt, an actress whose performances explore the stereotypes of the female gender, Berlin singer Namosh, as well as female trio Rhythm King & Her Friends. All in all an intriguing group of artists taking over the downtown space this week.

Bios Venue, 84 Pireos Street, Athens.

Related Links >  www.goethe/de/athen

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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.

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

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