After the elections were held in Greece on Sunday, Sept. 20th, there may be a stable government in Greece. At least for now it seems conceivable that Tsipras can govern with his coalition government having 155 members in a 300 seat parliament. Internally speaking, the voters proved to be sensible; externally the German newspaper "die Welt" writes that the Greeks allowed themselves to be deceived. What governance under the conditions of the Third Memorandum of Understanding can evolve, remains to be seen i.e. whether or not it can offer something more than mere stability within a strict framework. The outcome is said to be as well a wish by the voters to give Tsipras a second chance, while some say he had never a first chance when he took office for the first time after the January 25th election. As to the Ministers and Alternative Ministers making up the cabinet, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Cabinet_of_Alexis_Tsipras.
No doubt Europe and Greece are nearly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people seeking now refuge especially in a country like Germany. They bring with them many hopes and shall evoke tremendous changes. It will require from all a process of cultural adaptation to quite different needs, if the cultural differences created by the newcomers are going to be bridged. Here is a huge question of how Europe shall face its immediate future!
Unfortunately Europe is ill prepared for such influx of large numbers of people. Leading politicians like Chancellor Merkel in Germany had declared some time ago that the multi-cultural model was dead. Since then culture has been given even less a voice than what would be needed now, in order to bring about a sensible cultural adaptation process. As to where future developments shall lead to, no one seems really to know for sure. Definitely the fact that due to the influx of large numbers seeking not only shelter and safety, but also another opportunity to give shape to their lives, freedom in Europe will have to be safeguarded by quite other cultural, social, economic and political means. Culture shall become ever more important to work out differences prevailing alone in terms of justice and social behaviour.
Almost all of these people have fled not merely from hunger, but from such threats of violence and war that they felt to be no longer safe and free, in order to live at the places where they have grown up. They have experienced how unexpectedly a civil war being waged by different fractions make them into people at high risk to get caught up in between all fronts. It is similar to the thirty year religious war in Europe. At that time, no one was sure anymore which identity counted in the next village. Nowadays these tremendous power shifts in the Middle East are like a crazy wind coming suddenly out of nowhere, and continuously changing direction before hitting with full force some locality. In such a civil war best described by Enzensberger as having no clear enemy pictures as no one acts anymore out of conviction, demographic war far will play also a huge role. Once Syrians are attacked by their own government from the air and on the ground, while they can be killed at the same time rebel or by IS forces, no one can be sure how to safeguard one's own life and that of the immediate family, never mind of neighbors and friends, since the rule of the game has become an arbitrary terror exploding at random.
To understand what refugees go through, it is highly instructive to see how an artist comes to understand their dream of normality. For instance, the artist Anka Landtau works with migrants. She lets them paint a peace mural on a canvas which has the same size as Picasso's Guernica. When one boy wanted to make a gift for his father, instead of painting he kept on writing one word: 'Juventus'. She did not understand at first, but finally Anka Landtau realized the boy was reflecting merely a wish of his father to lead a normal life and to this belongs the possibility to be like any football fan able to follow your team on a Saturday afternoon, and this without threats of war. As an artist, she puts all of this into a framework of questions which she imposed upon Picasso's Guernica picture:
- do we really understand what is going on simply because we an ccarry in front of us a horror pictures?
By horror picture, she implies imagined ones into which we flee whenever we think of coming under threat, or the future is going to be very bleaque indeed. Fleeing in pictures as the only escape route reminds of Peter Weiss who decribes in his book 'Aesthetics of Resistance' how a man is chased by the police of Franco during the Spanish civil war and after he flees into a church for safety, once inside he discovers paintings on the wall. He is so amazed by their beauty that he forgets the fact that he is being chased. He calms down, stops sweating and is transformed into a normal person. Later on, when he walks out of the church, the police do not recognize him. They are looking for a man running for his life out of fear of what they might do to him. Anka Landtau maintains that our glances meet at such a point to which we all tend to escape to. By making a picture, we reconstruct reality but only to our convenience. Thus she poses the next question.
- there needs to be answered, but what about the reality of the other(s)?
Many of the refugees carry as well with them images of a member state within Europe to which they wish to flee to, but even then on their journey through Europe they are not alone in an effort to escape forlorn feelings while being trapped in wrong images. An indication thereof is what islands like Lesbos and Samos experience almost daily. Once another boat lands and brings ashore men, women and children, there starts this trek across the island. They have to go on foot, only few may hitch a ride, or at times a group is lucky because a bus driven by a volunteer picks them. Once on the other side of the island, they enter a Ferry boat which takes them to Piraeus. Once in Athens, they tend to go to Victoria Square which has become a key reference point for the refuges on their way to Northern Europe. The question is what do they see as being the European reality, and not what they had projected upon this continent when they fled their homes back in Syria or elsewhere, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc. It depends now how Europeans respond and where they do draw a line. Anka Landtau believes that the drawing of lines is a complex expression of people' own lives being interwoven with those of others. It is important to realize where are drawn the invisible lines.
- Europeans have to live now within parallel lines of development, own guidelines (which are not the ones the newcomers will necessarily understand), and seek their paths through life. In particular, it will become crucial where new lines are drawn to signify borders. Some do it very sharply, others try to modify the impression that Europe is a fortress which has closed its gates to the many newcomers. If Europe is to avoid becoming a shut down and closed in fortress, it entails a need to open up European society through culture. As Michael D. Higgins would say culture is sharing trust and therefore can open spaces in which everyone cherishes to live together in freedom. To this belongs the freedom of movement made possible by having open borders. That freedom is at risk to be destroyed when more fear rather than openess begins to dominate the security agenda. What it takes to make possible different dialogues needs also to be found out through all kinds of interactions. A best indicator thereof would be cities come alive and trust the vitality inherent in diversity. It means, however, an ability to govern a new complexity altogether.
No doubt Greece is a transit land. It faces a different set of problems compared to what Germany has to resolve since now the most preferred country to where refugees want to go and live. They promise themselves to find work and a decent life there.
All that underlines new differences in Europe are becoming apparent. This is especially when it comes to sharing not only the burdens of so many seeking refuge, but also trust in the strangers coming in from another cultural, social and political world.
Michael D. Higgins had predicted the key figure of the 21st century shall be the migrant. Now this is becoming a livable truth in Europe.
Let it be a mark of human dignity to make for each and everyone a clear difference to what would be otherwise a hostile reception. Receptivity of other cultural values are needed. Europe needs this cultural openness. The dialogue with those living in the Middle East has not been realised so far. Now it may in Frankfurt, Berlin but also in small communities taking in hundreds of refugees. All this is done to safeguard humanity. It should be remembered as well answers are needed to end this kind of civil war in the Middle East.
European capitals of culture
"Culture is that undeniable and irresistible force, which is able to direct changes into a positive stream, turning fear into a challenge and a venturous joy, and uncertainty – into trust in the creative spirit." - key slogan of Riga for that decisive year.
For official information: http://riga2014.org/en/
Official website: http://www.umea2014.se/inenglish
Umea will also host the next conference of the University Network come October 2014.
Europe connected through the arts and cultures
When thinking about how Europe is connected through culture, it became a practical question as to what contributions European Capitals of Culture have made so far to bringing about a 'cultural synthesis' capable of energizing artists to do outstanding works of art. To trace possible links and follow-ups between past, present and future ECoCs, there has been started a research project to examine the various linkages within given and still better to be formulate categories of the arts. See archive of European Capitals of Culture
and Leeuwarden 2018 in Holland
Matera 2019 in Italy.
The city will join the previous Italian cities which were European Capitals of Culture: Florenz 1986, Bologna 2000 and Genoa 2004.
Plovdiv 2019 in Bulgaria.
2020 Ireland and Croatia
2021 Greece and Rumania
Note: the deadline for handing in the bid by Greek candidate cities is no longer Oct. 23, but has been extended until end of November 2015.
Learning out of previous experiences - what is deemed to be a success story?
How candidate cities learn out of previous experiences made by other ECoC cities, this can be studied onhand of what these cities identify as factors which have contributed to making this project into a success stories. Largely the cultural impact is described in non cultural terms, see
Give me my country back by Najet Adouani
How is it great when your partner understands
that you need her,
she runs with you,
she runs around you,
she gives you a smile..
My partner is a mute tree
but she feels me true
when a malignant disease storms
my fragile existence..
I am the strongest, I am the fighter
who deceived the prophecy of her mother
who will never break the vassals' chains
and execute the brute dictatorship..
I am the fragile leave
looking for her branch,
I am the soft rose searching for life's sap..
I am the stranger in her country..
looking for the spectra of distant lanterns
were broken by darkness bats.
Who assassinated my dreams?
Who demolished the places of tales in my memories?
Who stole my Chrysanthemum crown?
I am the displaced Bedouin
who sacrifices welfare in exchange of freedom.
In my blood huffing thirsty camels
and on my vast wings the desert
Stretches her Scorching sands.
The flute of a little shepherd
throws me on the veil of the wind
an old tune..
Who shows me the way back?
Who offers me a Spot of wild herbs?
Give me my little country back..
give me my mother’s garden,
the rolled dust balls of my land beetles.
Take wealth and chairs but give me my
little country back.
I am the strong fighter..
I am the fragile rose..
I am the Tree.
In Search of Dialogue
The symposium at the International Olympic Academy has been organised by Spyros Mercouris / Open Horizons.
Pediment depicting people who stay in dialogue and therefore live together in peace - Archaeological musuem in Olympia Photo: Thomas Economacos
Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth
Activities in 2015
Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth meeting in Wroclaw, May 13 – 16, 2015 to prepare exhibition in Walbryzch for June 2016.
1 - 6 Sept. Exhibition at International Olympic Academy in Olympia, in conjunction with the Symposium 'A need for a constructive dialogue and the Olympic Truce'.
Greece after the elections held on September 20th 2015
The Third Memorandum of Understanding can entail the trading in of old political uncertainties with new ones.
Next museum conference:
14 May Poetry Workshop in Wroclaw: "Bridge of Redemption / Vineyard / Valley of Vine Trees"
15 - 16 May Meeting of Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth in Wroclaw
16 - 18 June Symposium "Reading Architecture," organized by McGill University. Place: Benaki Museum, Vas. Sofias in Athens. Abstracts are due by Jan. 15th.
18 - 20 June Mons Meeting of Les Rencontres about "Virtual Culture, Real Responsibilities: Which concrete applications today?" or "Does Europe have still a cultural ambition." Les Rencontres European Association of cities and regions for Cultureinfo@lesrencontres.eu 165, Boulevard de la Liberté 59000 Lille - France +33 (0)3 20 85 14 15 www.lesrencontres.eu
22 - 23 June 30th anniversary of European Capitals of Culture and coordinated by Spyros Mercouris - see Athens Meeting 2015
1 - 6 September "The need for a constructive dialogue between people and cultures and the Olympic Idea" in Ancient Olympia and a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth exhibition
6 September - reception at the Cycladic Museum, Athens and presentation of Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth
2-3 October Think tank of Les Rencontres in Milan on theme "What does a Network of European Cities and Regions for Culture mean today?"
22 - 23 October
Mapping Culture II: Debating Cultural Spaces and Places
2nd Annual Valletta 2018 Foundation International Conference on Cultural Relations in Europe and the Mediterranean
in Valletta, Malta
27 - 29 March "Culture and Democracy" conference in Teboursouk, Tunisia
18 - 21 October 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture, to be held in Valletta, Malta.
Publications by POIEIN KAI PRATTEIN
Catalogue "Imperishable Water", 2012 with Haroula Hadjinicilou, Anna Arvanitaki, Hatto Fischer (ed.), Athens ISBN 978-618-80160-0-2
Hatto Fischer: The poem 'Destiny still flows' by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke - this concerns a discussion of the poem which inspired the action on Rhodes last year
"Nation and Identity" by Kreisau-Initiative, with introduction by Hatto Fischer is crucial for answering the question whether or not Patriotism is an alternative to Nationalism. Youth met first in Kreisau, Poland and were inspired by this example set by the Kreisau Circle which went into resistance against Hitler on the basis of a non discriminatory approach for the day after Hitler fell.
Article by Anna Arvanitaki and Haroula Hadjinicolaou, "Action on Rhodes" in Journal "Nissides" (small islands). Rhodos, Vol. 9, 2012
The poem "strong images" by Hatto Fischer was published on August 18, 2015. See http://labloga.blogspot.com/search?q=hatto+fischer.
Poiein kai Prattein is member of the Mediterranean Directory organized by the
René Seydoux Foundation
Cultural Calendar for 2015
"Depression Era - photos of Greek crisis" - http://www.depressionera.gr/
photo exhibition at Benaki http://www.benaki.gr/index.asp?lang=en&id=202020001&sid=1519
TEMPUS RITUALIS - exhibition about the Greek crisis by Christine Nippe and Dorothee Bienert in the Gallery at 'Körnerpark', Schierkerstreet 8, 12051 Berlin until 25.01.2015 http://tempusritualis.weebly.com/
21 March Day of Poetry http://www.un.org/en/events/poetryday/
21 - 27 September 2nd Athens World Poetry Festival to be held in Athens
Oct. 23 Deadline for submission of bid book by candidate cities in Greece for the ECoC title in 2021 has been extended by two months.