The continent formerly known as Europe

The continent formerly known as Europe

In the 20th century’s 90’s, deep in the bliss of spending in the name of consumerism (without a blush), the foundations were secured of what we are living now. Europe endorsed money as the major life value and its citizens were renamed into consumers; then the talk about (the) currency started and ruled over any other concern of the European existence.

This, the currency, was meant to be the main experiment and around it we saw all possible flaws sticking to the continent’s vessel. As real Europeans growing in self-criticism, should we first list the (criminal) flaws? Dublin 2 top of the list; the agreement regarding the refugees that touch land in Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, but also Hungary (till sometime ago); an agreement designed to protect the financially advanced, situated in the centre of this continent, at any cost (lives-dignity-resources). The economical flaws are equally crucial. Tax evasion (or accomplice to) as a person or as State; bribery and fraud counted in bills of hundreds or of millions (under this should we also mention the bonuses of bank managers in central continent?); corruption on the level of a police station officer or on systemic violations of citizens’ constitutional rights (e.g. strategic misinformation turning peoples against each other)?

Once flaws listed, every top meeting and every negotiation in Europe could start with reporting about the basics. On which ideas should we base our directions? What can your country contribute to the pool of historical knowledge and philosophical vision? The standard answer of eternal financial growth is here irrelevant; as it refers to an accountancy and investment bureau, not to the place that claims to defend democracy, etc. But the € union is systemically pushing humanities and culture to the side; starting by crashing the (university) studies that do not translate into present or future profit, those failing to produce present or future antagonistic individuals (humanities again). No need to mention the total dishonouring of the arts; though here more actors are involved. Governments are even applauded when scrapping in one go 40% of the spending on culture from their annual budget.

Europe was a continent and then, after multiple internal massacres, came the European community, then called union; then the Euro and the eurozone appeared. In this process, Greece received its share of benefits, while contributing – amongst a number of known and less known things – the name Europe, Ευρώπη. Within the recent dismay of everything Greek, and the non-memory of the people, the officials will cut off from the name, one way or the other.

On a time leap ahead, when our dear northerns will be visiting Europe, they can show their passports mentioning at forefront “citizen of €”, or else “citizen of the continent formerly known as Europe”.

P.S. 1 From the depth of my heart to a hero of my youth: Thank you Jean-Luc Godard, for your fiery defense for Greece and for the ideas that once seemed to unite this continent.

P.S. 2 This text was written in the midst of the Greek financial crisis. Since then, some things may have changed in the Greek situation; the tv has found other black sheep to point fingers at. I am not a journalist; my point remains.

the continent formerly known as Europe

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Greek public tv and principles (again)

On Tuesday evening 11 June, the government of Greece shut down the public broadcast channel, ERT.

Greek people are protesting against this action, showing their support to the thousands of the suddenly unemployed people of ERT, expressing their opposition to the authoritarian attitude of this government (which declares illegal anyone ready to fight for their work and civil rights) and preparing the ground for an ending of the irrational way of “saving” a country.

This action is unacceptable not only for the indifference shown towards the working people, the history of the land, or the feelings of the audience who consider the national radio/tv station as part of their common cultural heritage. This action is not against persons, it is against principles; and, alas, it falls under the league of fascism.

tv GR
tv GR

Figures from the deep

Exhibition “The Antikythera Shipwreck” at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

ending on 28 April 2013

The exhibition running since April last year, 2012,  has the quality of the rare: a small exhibition where you can spend at least one hour (in three rooms) and leave overwhelmed of the story, the findings and the research. The sculptures alone will hunt you as unbelievable figures reshaped in the deep of the sea, there where the ship sunk, close to Antikythera island, in the sea between Peloponnesos and Crete. For years we only knew the Antikythera Ephebe, one of the first findings of the shipwreck, during the initial archaeological operations around 1900 and of course the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient analogue computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. I am linking this to the wikipedia page but for detailed documented information and image material (where you will realise that the research project is ongoing) I refer you to this website: http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/

And some practical info: the exhibition is temporary but no extra ticket is required. To visit it you walk through the museum, already preparing yourself for a breathtaking experience. Do not forget to go afterwards downstairs to the café of the museum and assimilate what you just saw in the interior garden amongst ancient sculptures and two equally antique turtles.

The whole package is a must!

remoulded
figures from the deep

12 Acropolis in Aegiali-Amorgos

Some people are thankful to find art even at the smallest place they visit. I am one of them and though Aegiali is not really the smallest or surely not the least visited place, I do find it amazing that someone decided to organize an art project on annual basis. Every summer and for the two busiest months, July and August, Dimitris Eliadis invites artists to make work on site changing the alley of his restaurant-guest house “12 Acropolis” into an art space. The project is called “αέναες συμπτώσεις” (perpetual coincidences) and from this year on it is showing mainly Greek artists.

Needless to say that I came across 12 Acropolis by pure coincidence. I was told by a friend, through another friend that there is an art project going on at Aegiali. We went to Amorgos, two adults and a five year old, with the idea to stay at Katapola solely getting on a bus to visit the Chora (the main town) and Agia Anna (the big blue).

On our last day in Amorgos we decided to rent a car and go a bit further than where the bus would bring us. Not that the island is so big or that there is no transport. On the contrary, I thought that all was well arranged and timely. In any case the roads are fixed since my last visit, 25 years ago; of course they are. Still, crossing the mountain from Katapola to Aegiali on a mysteriously misty day did see for an adrenaline shot followed by a light headache. Aegiali is the Northern port of the island, a town pushed to the sea by a mountain bulk starting right behind the houses. Small houses, big mountain, you loose a bit the sense of proportion. The works of Maria Letsiou soothed the tension with their delicate lines and colours. Maria ordered the works like a travel diary “1st day”, “2nd day”. Going toward the last days I could see that the colour moved to lighter hues; the shattering light of the island imposed itself on the mood and the eyes; the forms adjusted to the evenness that heat and peace on an island like Amorgos bring and thus became more inclusive.

I had the chance to see only the first of the six planned presentations, but here they are all six with their starting dates and titles:

Maria Letsiou- αιθέρια δημιουργήματα (ethereal creations) – 19 July

Elli Griva – εικαστική παρέμβαση σε δημόσιο χώρο (artistic intervention in public space) – 28 July

Efi Zigouri – κατασκευές/παράλληλη έκθεση (constructions/ parallel exhibition) – 28 July

Daniel Rodrigo Tortosa – therapy through art workshop – 6 August

Marina Provatidou – 7 ζωές ο γατόκοσμος μέσα μου (7 lives cat-life inside me) – 7 August

Nike Roubani – διαθλάσεις (refractions) – 13 August

Maria Letsiou at the 12 Acropolis
Day 8 on the island
Day 12 on the island
The mist on the mountain; from Katapola to Aegiali

Who’s afraid of Greece?

Greece is a place where you do go and with very few prerequisites. You may be asked to wear long pants and cover your shoulders when you enter a monastery or a church but apart from that I cannot think of something that does not pass in tolerance regarding visitors. In Greece visitors are sacred; it has been so since the ancient times because gods would visit quite often disguised into strangers. That the Greek filoxenia (filo= friend, xenos= stranger) has been abused by drunkards from Northern Europe since mass tourism was invented is to be blamed to both sides. To me it has been more striking the non solidarity between groups of  “friends” partying on Greek islands. It still haunts me the image of a girl sleeping face down on the floor of the camping toilets with the mobile telephone in her hand attached to the plug; none of her friends came by to pick her up till the morning. Greeks have many flaws but when it comes to friends and family they are there; still, the visitor will always eat first and the best piece. Speaking of solidarity, the last years Greeks have been accused mainly from the other Europeans of several evils, some true but most of them untrue. The biggest fault is that they fail to pay their bills or even worse that they threaten the wellbeing of their friends. The latest expression of this threat is the option to exit the euro zone very soon. Without exactly knowing if, when and how this could happen, the Europeans (that soon may have to change their names to something non Greek if they want to be consequent) are given the advice to take extra cash with them when visiting Greece. Because: cash machines may not have banknotes. Also, they are worried that there may not be gas for their hired cars and no breakfast served at the hotels. This brings to mind people who take in their luggage peanut butter because there may not be any at the country where they are going. Well, I suggest to take your chances. I am sure that there is everything you might need, but maybe it is a good exercise to imagine yourself spending two weeks without much.

My advice: go without fear and look around for the most friendly wilderness of the world.

P.S. Challenge makes the brain sparkle; comfort sedates it. It’s up to you.

+1 reason for visiting Santorini island this summer

Deadline for submissions: 19 May 2012
Exhibition dates: 1 July – 30 September 2012
Theme: The Past – History, Time, Memory and Nostalgia
Website: http://www.santorinibiennale.gr/

I have no other information than what is published on their website, but the fact itself that an exhibition of high expectations will be held on the island-experience of Santorini is already attractive. The organizers are Greek but the curatorial team is mostly international; also international will hopefully be the exhibitors’ team. It is curious to me why they separate the art fields in such detail yet leave out textile art (for example) which  is actually booming. Also curious is the lateness of the call for artists. I wonder how they will select and collect in no time.

Despite all, here is why you should consider submitting work or just visiting the exhibition:

1) It is a project in its birth and – as with any birth – worth sharing.

2) The venues will be spread on the island but the main focus will not be on the highly touristic places (if that can be said for any corner of Santorini).

3) You have a chance to contribute in breaking the “sold and bought with pleasure” degenerate image “ouzo-souvlaki-sun tan lotion” that is far from what Greece is about, even in modern times.

4) This year, after 7 years of being closed, the archeological site of Akrotiri, Santorini’s prehistoric city, is again open. You must have seen in books or on the web the frescos discovered there; well, this is the place itself! The people had left, apparently nature had warned them well, so there are no bodies nor jewellery found like in Pompey. What you see in the site itself is a prehistoric town with houses and roads, practically saved by the lava.

5) Santorini is a place that you must have seen, point. There are hundreds of  islands in Greece, each one with its own character and beauty. But, the breath taking view of the caldera, the walk on the black sand of Kameni, the swim in the dark blue waters at the other side of the island, this volcano burnt theater that is called Thera (Santorini) is unique beyond commentary. Just imagine now being part of it as an artist!

P.S. September is the best month to visit; not terribly crowded, somewhat cooler air, sea warmed up by the summer.

Vivid conversations with antiquity

origins of a personal art story

I sat down to write something about myself and my work and the very beginning in an unstable, shameful as well as ridiculous time came to light, as important. Maybe it is time to write more about those years when Greece sunk in a compulsory tidiness, then woke up with the nostalgia of a lost path before surrendering to the lustrous promises of the life style. All this of course will come connected with a personal art story. For the moment, a basic text:

The blog artB is created and maintained by Sofia Kapnissi, an artist interested in under the surface and between the lines findings. Born in Athens, Greece, one year before the dictators subverted the country; grew up in the center of a city where all the important matters had to be said in secret and while covered by a conservative good family image. At the age of 17 she started her artistic training at a fine arts preparatory school and two years later passed the exams for the School of Fine Arts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1985 – 1990). In 1991 she went to the Netherlands to continue her artistic development, later also with a NUFFIC scholarship. She shares the years since then between the Netherlands and Greece, organizing and participating in exhibitions. She has been one of the founding members of the group Gaidaro which from 1999 presents projects advocating for non conventionalism in the arts and self sufficiency of the artists. Painting is always her reference point, but her work expands to other means and materials like engraving, video, photography and textile. In her work there is an element of rebellion against all compromises in the art practice and the dominating hypocrisy, to such an extent, that she goes to the other end, breaking everything that can embellish art creation, including her own career.

self portrait titled "dead or ancient, 2009