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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.

Cyprus had its first official fashion week March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style.
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Joining in with other regional and national markets, Cyprus organized its first official fashion week.

The new fashion week saw no less than 23 designers and emerging fashion houses presenting their new collections for Fall Winter 2008/09. The Paris-based, Greek Cypriot Erotokritos officially opened the fashion week. He was joined by others including Kika Ioannidou, Pandelis Pandeli, Elena Strogyliotou, Marios Grigoriadis, Elena Antoniades and Adreas Georgiou. Afroditi Hera, Mi-Ro, Ramona Filip and Yannis Xenis, who recently unveiled their collections in Athens during the Hellenic Fashion Week, also presented their collections.

Cyprus Fashion Week is organized by DIAS and is held at the Cyprus State Fairs Authority premises in Nicosia. It run from March 27 to March 30.

Drawing pictures on Nicosia’s Ledra Street March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Children from a junior high school in Cyprus draw pictures of the buffer zone on Nicosia’s Ledra Street, in place since the Turkish invasion in 1974 but in the process of being dismantled, as UN peacekeepers sweep the area for land mines.

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Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said yesterday that finding a settlement to reunify the divided island would be “a very difficult task.” But he said the working groups he agreed to set up following talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat were a practical first step. “They have not been set up for show or for reasons of propaganda but to produce results,” Christofias said.

President Christofias and Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou are to visit Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the end of next month.

Nicosia’s Ledra Street buffer zone is demined March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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UN crews clear unexploded ordnance around Ledra Street before it opens > UN mine engineers sweeping the buffer zone for unexploded ordnance to allow crews to shore up crumbling buildings ahead of a crossing point opening at Ledra Street in Nicosia, yesterday.

27-03-08_un_crews.jpg  United Nations demining experts swept the buffer zone dividing Nicosia for discarded explosives yesterday as part of efforts to open a crossing in Europe’s last divided capital.

UN spokesman Jose Diaz said demining teams completed a search for unexploded devices or booby traps that could have been left over from the 1974 Turkish invasion, which divided the island along ethnic lines. The sweep of the 70-meter (230-foot) stretch of no man’s land was necessary before work could begin to shore up dilapidated buildings on either side of the pedestrian thoroughfare.

«A six-person mine action team carried out the search with support from UNFICYP (United Nations Force in Cyprus), during which no dangerous items were found,» a UN statement said. The clearance, shoring up and other preparations were expected to last 10 days or more, Diaz said.

Barbed wire first divided Ledra Street, a busy shopping street in the Cypriot capital’s medieval core, in the early 1960s amid fighting between the island’s Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot communities. The leaders of the Greek and Cypriot communities agreed Friday to open a crossing at Ledra Street as a sign of good will before resuming talks on reunifying the island.

A sticking point appears to have been overcome after the Turkish army agreed to keep patrolling soldiers out of sight of the crossing point, officials close to the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The Greek Cypriot National Guard will also pull its soldiers back.

The new Cyprus’ President of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot Republic of Cyprus, currently in the south of the island, Dimitris Christofias, and the leader of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriots currently in the Turkish occupied and military controlled north area of Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, Mehmet Ali Talat, also agreed Friday to reach a reunification deal «as soon as possible.» Aides to Christofias and Talat agreed yesterday to quickly set up 13 groups of experts to bridge the gaps between the two sides on issues such as security, territory, crime and health. The groups will have until June to make as much progress as possible before Christofias and Talat begin face-to-face negotiations.

A UN statement said both sides agreed to set up additional groups if necessary «to ensure that their respective leaders may be able to negotiate as effectively as possible on the full spectrum of issues to be discussed.»

However, Turkish troops will stay in the occupied northern areas of Cyprus until a «just and lasting peace» has been achieved on the divided island, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said yesterday. The Turkish forces in the breakaway north have been deployed «in line with international agreements,» Talat said.

«They will continue to conduct their mission until a just and lasting peace has been achieved.» Talat was speaking at a meeting with visiting Turkish army chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, just days after he and newly elected Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias agreed to relaunch peace negotiations stalled since 2004.

Talat said the influential Turkish military, often accused of advocating a hardline position on the Cyprus conflict, «supports us on the issues we are working on, together with the Turkish government.» Buyukanit said: «The Turkish soldiers are here for the security of the Turkish Cypriots. They have ensured their security and will continue to do so.» Turkey, the only country to recognize the government in the occupied north, maintains more than 40,000 troops there.

Turks bar Ledra Street opening in Nicosia March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said yesterday that he would push to reopen a landmark street in the divided capital of Nicosia after Turkish troops prevented United Nations officials from getting started on clearing up the area.

Turkish troops stopped a UN initiative to clear explosives and other materials from Ledra Street, which runs through the buffer zone that divides northern and southern Nicosia, citing “technical problems.” Meanwhile, sources said that Turkey’s armed forces chief Yasar Buyukanit is due in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus today. It was unclear whether the trip had been planned.

26-03-08_ledra_street_crossing.jpg  Cyprus President Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat last week agreed to open up Ledra Street as a symbolic move ahead of renewed peace talks. The Cyprus President yesterday said he believed “barriers would be overcome.” Nicosia, the capital city of the Republic of Cyprus, is the last divided city in Europe.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said he “warmly welcomed” the agreement by Christofias and Talat to “start full-fledged negotiations under UN auspices.”

Greece’s National Day celebrated March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Special Features.
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Greeks all over the world observed today Greece’s National Day. Student parades were held in Athens on Monday 24th March, while a grand military parade has taken place today, 25th March, the salute of which was received by the President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Karolos Papoulias.

The Greek Nation, today celebrates a dual feast, in respect of Greece’s Independence Day, when the War for Independence was declared on 25th March 1821, seeking freedom and liberty from the then Ottoman empire, and a religious major Orthodox Christian feast, the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.

Parades, both student and military, were also held in all towns of Greece and Cyprus. Some photos from these parades follow.

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Students parade in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 25th March.

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Students parade in Athens, Greece, on 24th March.

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Photos from today’s military parade in Athens, Greece, follow in the next post.

Relatives of missing Cypriots to get closure March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Facility is inaugurated in Nicosia where families can view identified remains

24-03-08_missing_cypriots.jpg  The room where families get a first glimpse of relatives who vanished in fighting in the 1960s and 70s, at a new facility in Nicosia, in the buffer zone separating the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities, last Tuesday. The facility will allow families from both sides to see recently unearthed remains of a relative for the first time.

The final act in dozens of human tragedies from divided Cyprus’s troubled past is unfolding in a clinical room with four tables draped in white sheets. Here, in the buffer zone separating Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities, families will get a first glimpse of relatives who vanished in fighting in the 1960s and 1970s, their hastily dug graves lost in the fog of postwar politics.

“We’ve had instances where children who hadn’t been born when their father disappeared see him for the first time as a skeleton,” said Elias Georgiades, the Greek-Cypriot member of a committee tasked with uncovering the fate of hundreds of missing Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

An international forensics team carries out the actual search for the approximately 1,500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots who are listed as missing. To date, the exhumation and identification program has unearthed the remains of 379 missing people. The disappearances began in 1964 at the onset of intercommunal violence. They culminated in 1974 when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in response to a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece. Many died in battle; others were victims of revenge killings, buried in unmarked graves undisturbed for decades until long-suppressed information guided anthropologists to them.

The new facility, inaugurated this week in the no man’s land that cuts across the island’s capital, Nicosia, will allow scores of families from both sides to see recently unearthed remains of a relative for the first time in decades.

“This is a place where a lot of emotion will unfold,” said Christophe Girod, the committee’s UN-appointed member. Until now, viewings of the remains were held in a cramped office that was once part of the old airport’s installations.

Since July, the families of 57 Greek Cypriots and 26 Turkish Cypriots have viewed the identified remains of their relatives. Remains first undergo laboratory analysis before DNA testing to identify them. Then families are called in.

At one recent viewing, an elderly grieving woman caressed the skull of her husband, weeping softly as she kissed his jaw bone. The Greek-Cypriot man had vanished in 1974, after being snatched from his home late one summer evening, his relatives said. They asked that neither they nor the man be identified. His remains were found in a shallow grave in the northeastern Karpasia peninsula alongside those of 11 others. He was handcuffed to another body lying beside him. Forensic scientists said they could not determine the exact cause of death. But in his relatives’ minds, there was little doubt – his skull was fractured and he had a bullet hole in his shoulder blade. The black-clad relatives viewed the skeletal remains with quiet resignation. “After so many years, we expected this,” said one of the man’s three daughters.

One relative lit incense to waft over the remains in accordance with Orthodox Christian custom. His children said that at least this time, their father would receive a proper burial. There was a palpable sense of relief at the end of the viewing. The relatives embraced the staff and expressed their gratitude, some even managing to smile.

Families take custody of the remains a day or so later after signing release papers. Officials say such viewings have a ceremonial quality to impart a sense of closure. Relatives are first ushered into a sitting room where experts involved in the exhumation and identification process field questions and offer emotional support.

They are then guided into an adjacent viewing area where the remains are neatly arranged on a table. Clothing and other items such as keepsakes and pocket change found at the burial site are displayed nearby.

“The families cry, they shout, they kneel, they kiss the bones, they touch them… they demand the truth, the whole truth,” Georgiades said. “These are sacred moments for the relatives,” he added. “They imagine the last days, hours and moments of the skeleton that lies before them.”

The exhumation program is seen as a way to heal a festering wound that has long impeded reconciliation between the two estranged communities, as efforts to reunify the island remain stalemated. The program has raised around $5.33 million in donations to carry on its work through 2008, with an estimated five years remaining for completion.

“Without closure, the pain and anguish of these families remains. That is why the work of the (committee) is so important, not only to the families themselves, but also to the future of the island,” US Ambassador Ronald Schlicher said.