A PLACE TO BE

Fokas Yiannis, untitled, acrylic on canvas-mixed media - Artforum Culture Foundation

Fokas Yiannis, acrylic on canvas-mixed media – Artforum Culture Foundation

Time for a new self-consciousness

Greece is wellknown for its history and culture, a culture which is based on philosophy, art and the value of common communication.  A world without the spiritual influence of its people is inconceivable. But the transfiguration of Hellenism sometimes in a bloodless veneration is primarily a German invention of the Classical and Romantic periods.

It has little in common with the life of contemporaries in Greece. The days of great philosophers and artists may be over, but the tremendous legacy dates back to the 20th century. We can call it a new renaissance, back to the basics and concentrated more on content than on form. This may hardly be noticeable, especially since most Greeks rest on an ancient legacy – but the strength is palpable. Internal and external political conditions had led to culture spreading in exile rather staying in the background. For most of the protagonists, a striking type of modesty got typical. This has enabled them to survive and develop even in the most difficult conditions in the country, but especially in exile. Modern Greek writers and artists have something to tell to the world. On the one hand restraint and and on the other on a high level of critical empathy – this perspective is typical of such diverse writers as Andreas Embirikos, Konstantinos Kavafis, Giorgios Seferis, Odysseas Elytis, Giannis Ritsos or Nikos Kazantzakis.

Without personalities such as Teriade and Christos Zervos, classic modernity would certainly not have been able to begin its triumphal march in the same way. Artists such as Andy Warhol, Victor Brauner, Alexander Calder and René Magritte have also achieved international fame thanks to the expertise and support of Alexander Iolas. Jannis Kounellis even chose modesty as the style element of an entire art movement, arte povera. It also takes a lot of perseverance and a great inner fire to keep focusing on art and culture and, for example, to create in times of economic crisis an international platform with the Art Thessaloniki.

But we have to imagine: All of these efforts need support.

Business, politics, society and everyone benefit from the work of creative artists and mediators. Especially in times of Corona, better framework conditions and help are needed to hold creativity in the country. The undoubtedly great Greek talent of being curious and communicating (in this form only to be compared with the Jewish one) must not be suffocated in their own country or constantly stand on their feet. The aim should not be to flee but to exchange with other countries in order to use this potential.

Of course, what is said here applies not only to the entire field of culture, but also to to science and business. Cultural exchange and the promotion of independent in-house developments need political and economic support. Just creativity, innovation and good vibrations ensure the basis of a sustainable society.

 

 

 

CORONA – GREECE a MIRACLE ?

Solidarity, love and respect are the answer

Tanimanides, Panayiotis - Artforum Culture Foundation

Tanimanides, Panayiotis - Artforum Culture Foundation

In unprecedented openness and cooperation, politics, healthcare and society have recognized the seriousness of the  impending pandemic and acted accordingly.Compared to what is happening worldwide, we can call it the miracle of Greece. In Greece, politics and healthcare seem to control the pandemia. Or is it just a trick to save tourism?

Many Greeks are amazed about their own discipline in dealing with the Corona Virus. And they welcome the government's crisis management. The fact, that Greece has an incredible low rate of corona infections and deaths seems to be a real miracle. But – what are the reasons and why this has not been noticed anywhere in the world?
Concrete early measures and preparations by the government and the right decision to speak with one expert voice to the Greek people, have reduced fear by insight into what is necessary. It was really the right idea that virologist Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras  had inform and educate every evening on TV about the new infection. Accordingly, Greece was well prepared for the pandemic. For further information please compare COVID-19 pandemic in Greece.

Lockdown to protect everyone

Very early decisions led for corrective measures. All carnival parades were prohibited in time. Schools and universities, restaurants and cafés were closed early. This was a simple but great opportunity from the start to keep new infections low. Social hardship was balanced out equally for all people by a newly introduced short-time work allowance (800 euros per person).
There was a great deal of insight into curfews, where the houses or apartments were only allowed to be left in exceptional cases. This was of course surprising for the Greeks, who traditionally love spending time outdoor. But the insight into social cohesion was exemplary. More than 85 % of Greeks are satisfied with crisis management.

Formative power of social coexistence

Given the years of economic crisis, one could have expected a disaster, similar to the neighbouring countries of Italy and Turkey. The fact that this has not happened, despite involuntary savings courses, especially in the healthcare sector, is also due to the high quality of medical training and the commitment of doctors and nurses. Thanks to the formative power of social coexistence swarm intelligence could spread.

Tourism is a great opportunity for Greece, but not at any price

Last but not least, we hope that the planned opening of the country to tourism will not negate the previous advantage. Great caution and strict regulations are not an affront to guests right now, but a necessary sign of a great Greek “invention”, philoxenia. Precautionary measures protect the people in the country - and thus also the guests.

But there are also voices indicating that the Greek statistics are insufficient and not comparable. Too few people have actually been tested. Perhaps the strikingly positive picture is determined by the fact that Greece will be very quickly attractive again  for tourists in order to mobilize this important economic factor.
Anyway, every further step should be evaluated very carefully and, if necessary, reversed very quickly.
Let us be wise of harm so that we can hopefully step into a bright future after a period of delay.

Don’t forget Migrants

Maybe it's also luck and the good weather that has saved Greece from disaster so far. It is not disputed that the Greeks' social responsibility for each other has shown what love and respect can do. A great cultural heritage may be revealed again. Many Greeks themselves have been victims of flight and migration for political and economic reasons. Approximately the same number of people in their own country now lives scattered over almost every country in the world, so called diaspora. No question, it should be an obligation to spend empathy for people in hopeless situations. To get effect it need of course two ways: on the one hand to do everything possible to combat the causes and on the other to give optimal support to each individual. Love and respect will be the source to end the terrible situation of people in refugee camps. We have to understand – and corona pandemic demonstrate it day by day – that we are all in one boat on one world. The actual behaviour of so many people in Greece should have consequences. Hand in hand, government and society in cooperation with a new EU strategy must fight to stop inhumane migration and lager policy.

GREECE IN CRISIS – CHANCE FOR EUROPE

Posted Dec. 2009

Greece is in the focus of interest and the much-discussed crisis reveals reliably: everything is connected with everything. Pythagoras already recognized this.

Starting from this realization it becomes clear that Greece can master problems only together with those who are involved. National indebtedness with similar effect as the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers is the result of a wrong national consciousness by a system, where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. Lack of democratic control opens all gates for corruption and mismanagement. This is not only a Greek phenomenon and problem, but generally at least by the European Union bureaucracy. However,  A big problem has arisen from the fact  that this pacifistic country has the highest military expenditure per head.

Naturally a recovery of the lack is not possible without strong participation of Greece itself. We have to go back finally to the roots of the evil. Continuous fraud and mismanagement in the public sector led a country, weak of innovation, into a big crisis. Deliveries and taxes were drastically increased, but only little steps are really done. The large fortunes still are not touched; the people only carry the load. Many of the few thousands wealthy people are not willing to do their contribution for the society and their necessary development. Whole industries are traditionally excluded from taxation -there are large potentials.

A further way would be additional support of education, art and culture by a simplification of the foundation laws and a complete release for amounts of foundation and donations for the. The blind pride on cultural values of the antiquity, without promoting these and contemporary efforts effectively, may not have place anymore in the Greek policy.

Within a really social and democratic European Union it should be also possible to receive foundations and donations from other countries of the European Union honored by tax reductions. Straight for Greece, whose people live approximately 50% in Europe and overseas, it would particularly boosted welfare.

At last the crisis will give the possibility to think about a renewal of societies. Democracy can function only if social justice is possible. Economic prosperity and lastingness can proceed in the long term only by a well-educated society, which take part also on the economical benefits.

All this is part of a cycle, which secures a surviving of mankind. It seem to be clear, there will be no lasting peace, as long as the mistrust remains the prevailing and all other edging out norm. Cultural ignorance is the mostly incriminating factor, which sows mistrust between us. The increasing efforts towards a peaceful and greener planet go to the vacuousness if we treat contemptuous the same time the human achievements, which are foreign to us.

Just the discovery and use of cultural resources rescues an immense potential for the economic and social development in itself.
We all should make constantly an effort to get to know our human differences and to accept and to value other traditions accordingly of her own values and aesthetics which are a share of a broader human order. By the support of those, who do this,  by the propagation of acceptance and tolerance we will be able to do something for the future of our world.

The non-profit Artforum Culture Foundation exerts itself for these targets and gives its contribution by own projects, co-operations and by interlinking with artists, galleries, collectors and as well as with museums and art organisations.

 

INTERVIEW

Question: Which assignments does Artforum Culture Foundation (abbreviation ACF) fulfil?
Apostolidou: ACF is a foundation which runs cultural activities. The main running projects are, for instance, our NETWORK+ Project and our idea of a European Cultural Centre (ECC) in Thessaloniki. To name one project based on a single artistic idea, this is the initiation of the project Sancto Subito with which we would like to perform a contribution to the actual discussion about the system of ethical values.

Question: Contemporary art plays a leading role at ACF. What is the policy of ACF concerning international change exhibitions and itinerant exhibitions, which ACF shows in its spaces or sends somewhere else?
Apostolidou: ACF wants to promote the cultural dialogue and the artistic exchange in the conviction, that this is conducive to the reciprocal understanding and the tolerance between the nations. Concerning the role of ACF, it consists in promoting cultural variety and knowledge about the art as well as in announcing significant art in Greece and from Greece.

Question: What are the main focuses of ACF?
Apostolidou: The name of the foundation itself formulates already the responsibility to be involved for cultural interests. This contains at first all areas of culture, all parts of the arts and extraordinary expression forms of social life. We are open for all areas of culture and try to link up existing activities to allow new views. Indeed, because of personal interest and for strategically reasons, nevertheless a special focus lies on the mediation of fine art. Our assignments can be controlled and forced better over this line. Literature readings, music, dance and theatre complement our program. Furthermore we are willing to  co-operate for cultural activities of local authority districts and companies. We like to be in contact with galleries and collectors. With pleasure we exert ourselves for the objective interests of artists. This approach is especially suitable to link cultural, social and intellectual interests.

Question: Which is the practical use that do you see subsequently of such synergy effects?
Safiriou: L’art pour l’art is absolutely necessary, because mind and soul want to be able to relax. This should be immanent, in any case, of every art. However, in addition, we see art as a practical instrument of philosophy, to give sense (!) to our life. We have to imagine, that art is the only area in which science can be freely run. We are interesting in artistic research as contributions to individual psychology, to ethics and to utopia. An architecture as a living space, e.g.,  and the integration in town planning and landscape planning,  is nowadays an area where is highest state of emergency and where totally thinking and working is absolutely necessary.

Question: ACF disposes of relatively big exhibition floor spaces and more attached space. For what needs ACF has to be so self-sufficiently?
Apostolidou: It is one of the aims of ACF to led artists real, virtual and spiritual space where they can show their artwork and where it can be valued according to her own aesthetics without having to pretend. This was and is one more one of the main functions of the exhibition hall and the other spaces.

Question: How is the financial position of ACF?
Apostolidou: ACF is a non-profit private foundation. This means, our work is not profit-oriented, possible profits are used exclusively for foundation purposes. ACF undertakes all activities from the own strength and therefore private and public sponsorship is necessary and very welcomed. A municipal or state sponsorship or participation does not exist at all till today. For this reason ACF is independent and we are free in our decisions. Nevertheless, a support from the European Community would make sense and would become very helpfully to fulfil our pan-european and international targets.

Question: Which special performances does ACF offer additional to the art and cultural program?
Apostolidou: ACF publishes own publications, books, catalogues and posters. Additional and in co-operation ArtForum Edition publishes graphics and multiples of selected artists. ACF has a library system for research purposes at the seat of the foundation, as well as at the contact offices. ACF is a partner for private and institutional collectors to whom we can give assistance in collaboration with specialists in questions of the art market, for conservation, technical analysis, art historical problems and authenticity. As a partner of artists we consult objectively further approach and we coordinate documentation and inventory. We can also be responsible for treatment, care, publication and utilisation of art estates of antiquities up to contemporary art.
ACF also maintains good relations with Greek publishing companies and can arrange contacts for writers. In the same way ACF is a partner for foreign music and theatre ensembles coming to Greece and the neighbour countries. An area for which we like to do more in the very future will be cinematography.

Question: How do you see the situation of Greek literature today?
Apostolidou: There are great Greek authors, prominent lyricists. However, the young authors have fewer chances outside Greece. This has possibly to do with narrative forms, which are not simply, can be mediated to most of the audience. On the other hand, the phenomenon has to be ascertained, for Italy e.g. the Melanese publisher Inge Feltrinelli have pointed out, that the origin of the authors is not of big importance. Attributes like “German” and “Italian” or “Greek” and “English” really do not exist anymore in today’s literature. Last but not least, personality is necessary for success, but however, indeed, there are cultural differences also in the reception.

Question: Does sport not replace increasingly the role from art and culture in the favour of the people?
Apostolidou: First of all, sport is an essential part of the culture and, secondly,  artists deal for a long time in an analytic way with this phenomenon. In this sense sport activities of course also belong to our assignment. The Greeks are keen on sport, they have create  sport as a cultural thing. The resumption of the Olympic games in 1896 was financed to a third part from the private pockets of the people, which were not quite rich.
A great support came also from wealthy people of the Greek community, living in  Alexandria, Egypt. It is to be seen with joy how Greece and the Greeks have shown their  capacity and organisation talent with the Olympic Games in 2004 and the football European championship as well. This has delivered an important contribution to the cultural self-confidence of Greeks today all over the world. Nevertheless, it is a pity that, although the international Olympic committee designate the environmental care as columns of the Olympic ideas, the responsible managers have done only very little for this.

Question: Did it belong to the concept from the beginning of ACF to include also art in the program from neighbour-countries and international art beside the focus on contemporary art from Greece? On which considerations this decision is based?
Safiriou:In my opinion the cultural bottom is especially fertile in these regions which dispose of a great heritage  and which has been offside for longer time because of political and economic reasons. This is in culture not more differently than in agriculture. However, it requires special care.

Question: Which politic-cultural aims do you pursue and how do you see the possibilities of ACF?
Safiriou: There will be no lasting peace, as long as mistrust remains the prevailing and everything edging out norm. Cultural ignorance is the mostly incriminating factor which sows mistrust between us and which can lead to war. The increasing efforts towards a cleaner and greener planet lead to nothing,  if we will destroy at the same time the human achievements which are contemptuous foreign to us. It is not enough giving disaster relief and economic support to the people, but to refuse her aesthetic needs, however, only because these are different from our needs.

Apostolidou and Safiriou are members of the board.