A PLACE TO BE

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

(c) 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.

NOTES ON CORONA VIRUS

Corona virus and its disease Covid-19

HELP! - YOURSELF AND OTHERS.

coronavirus and its disease Covid-19 is threaten humanity.
Solidarity, respect and love are required like never before.

Eschenbach, Monika von > masked face bw. Artforum Culture Foundation

Eschenbach, Monika von > masked face bw. Artforum Culture Foundation

The virus multiplies in the throat. While an infected person speaks or coughs, he drops droplets almost automatically. These fly about 1.5 to 2 meters (when sneezing even 4 - 5 meters) before it will fall slowly to the ground. The infection usually arises from inhalation of such droplets and the aerosol of the evaporation.

If you are concerned that you have already become infected through contact with an infected person, for example, you should contact the responsible health department by phone, email or whats app. The experts will advise you which measures have to be taken. For actual daily statistics about corona virus infection please press here.

Coranavirus - How can you protect yourself?

According to experts, only special fine particle masks, also known as filtering face pieces (FFP), are suitable for protecting yourself from infection by droplets from sick people. They consist entirely or partially of non-replaceable filter material and reduce infectious aerosols in the inhaled air. During the SARS epidemic 2002/2003, some studies for so-called FFP3 masks had demonstrated a certain protective effect (up to 98% certain).

The WHO recommends that the masks are not used as a preventive measure for healthy people, but only for patients and people who may have been infected so that they do not spread the virus. In suspicious cases, medical personnel in particular should wear a mask to protect themselves from a droplet infection. To protect against viruses, the WHO and e.g. in Germany by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommended above all strict hand hygiene. Nevertheless, it makes sense to protect yourself largely as a healthy person and thus not to further heat up the infection chain.

In cooperation with Winter Foundation Hamburg and GoPublic Stiftungsberatung we would like to give you some tips and recommendations for self-protection:

The art of hygiene*

  • Wash your hands
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Disinfect incoming packages. Dispose of packaging material immediately.
  • Wear respiratory protection on contact. (Sun) glasses. (Disposable) gloves.
  • Only use towels yourself. Collect and wash in a safe sack after use.
  • Wash glasses after every external contact, dispose of other materials in a small bag immediately.

After possible contact:

  • Don't touch your face.
  • Wash your hair Or better: take a short shower. Dry thoroughly.

Advice if breathing protection is not available:

Do it yourself!
Pattern for breathing masks.

Please use always actual information !

Materials (in order from outside to inside)

  • Thin plastic film (e.g. parts of a bag)
  • Two to three layers of household towels
  • Lay out a thin layer of cotton wool (or a cotton cloth)
  • Activated carbon filter (e.g. for extractor hoods), if availabl
  • Folded paper tissues (or two layers of toilet paper

Working steps

  • Layer everything
  • Make a pattern based on illustrations of breathing masks by eye, made of fabric that covers the nose, mouth and over the chin based on the standard breathing masks.
  • Accordingly, the above material is modest in one operation
  • Sew all layers together using the sewing machine or by hand at the edges.
  • Sew on the elastic band (e.g. from underwear or pajamas) on the right and left, so that a loop is created that is sufficient and secure for fastening behind the ears.
  • Make absolutely sure that such a mask surrounds the nose and mouth well on the outside and that there is enough space to breathe inside.

These recommendations are not guaranteed and are subject to better care and / or newer knowledge.
* A common project of Artforum Culture Foundation , Winter Stiftung and GoPublic-Stiftungsberatung

Stay healthy!

CONSPIRACY THEORIES ON CORONA – A CHALLENGE

Corona virus and its disease Covid-19

Numerous conspiracy theories also circulate in Corona times.
What is behind it?

George DuBose - Biz Markie

George DuBose - Biz Markie. ArtForum Editions

Conspiracy theories are a psycho-sociological phenomenon that broadly describes the attempt to explain a state, an event or a development through a conspiracy.  It is suspected, that i.e. a targeted, secret work of a mostly small group of people will detriment a few other people or or (parts of) society . They are generally understood by the public in the sense of ideologies that ultimately do not promote a critical debate, but rather hinder it. Numerous conspiracy theoriesalso circulate in the case of the corona virus.

As far as conspiracy theories are based on rational and verifiable statements or questions, one should correctly speak of conspiracy hypotheses.
Hypotheses are fundamentally not negative, they require space where knowledge is missing or is not accessible.

Imagine: Corona-virus and its disease Covid-19 as well as conspiracy ideologies threaten humanity. Knowledge, solidarity, respect and love are required like never before.

So, even in times of Corona, numerous questions are still open:

-  Why is a long time advised procedure to wear protective masks  rejected or made ridiculous instead to declare openly that preventive measures are still missing?
-  Why free stays in the fresh air (even in the forest, mountains, sea) are prohibited, but inside supermarkets (different from district to district, from city to state), supermarket cashiers and customers are unprotected?
- Why are disinfection procedures are done and masks prescribed and worn especially in countries with some experiences with aerosol diseases?  But in e.g. Europe there is  not even insight into this question yet?

Of course, we cannot give any qualified answers at this point and would even like to expressly warn against conspiracy ideologies.
Perhaps, however, our information - and in the following our instructions - will help to understand the problem somewhat better and to protect us all.

Truths Invented or Believed?

When it is no longer possible to explain everything unknown with the work of an almighty God, there is a growing tendency to attribute unpleasant phenomena to the dark power of a conspiratorial group - “somebody has to be responsible for it”. This appears to be the only solution out of your own ignorance and responsibility. In this sense, conspiracy theories in the sense of hypotheses are primarily to be understood as symptoms of a crisis in the face of a state of ignorance. The state of ignorance in turn leads to fear. Fears are a natural feeling, so you should take them seriously. They are not sick as such, but they can make you sick if you can't deal with them.

Violence - internally and / or externally - can be a result of fear and thus a logical consequence of conspiracy tendencies: if the threat posed by an overpowered power is to great and if there is still no means due to an ideological self-sealing to refute the fearful idea, then, maybe, every means attainable will be right to defend it.

Fears must therefore always be taken very seriously. A way out of weakness can only provide by knowledge through comprehensive transparency and education. Because knowledge is the best way to find solutions. However, there will be no state of omniscient truth.Knowledge does not mean truth. Any research can only create knowledge, but we can only believe the truth *. Ultimately, truths cannot be suppressed by disciplining what can be said, but only by accessing and accepting as diverse a knowledge as possible.

* Recommended for a fundamental insight into the phenomenon "Believed Truths" is the publication of the same name as a contribution to the philosophy of photography at ArtForum Editions I KulturPlusMedien. Book order online at: winterstiftung (at) web.de.
(PM)

Stay healthy ! **

**A common project of Artforum Culture Foundation,  WinterStiftung Hamburg  and GoPublic-Stiftungsberatung

All recommendations are subject to better care and / or newer knowledge.

 

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PUBLICATIONS AND GRAPHIC EDITIONS

ArtForum Editions – Books and Graphics

ArtForum Editions is an imprint of the non-profit Artforum Culture Foundation,  started in the mid-90s. The main subject is creating publications and graphic edition In collaboration with artists, charitable foundations and international projects. As an independent institution, ArtForum Editions can pursue goals outside the mainstream and promotes independently avantgarde tendencies. Limited  books and catalogue-editions are published in collaboration with different partners, a.o. with MarcMan Graphics.

One of a few long-term projects was dedicated to a Philosophy of Photography. In 2020 a book in two volumes by the German-Greek art theorist Orestis Safiriou will finally published: Geglaubte Wahrheiten (Believed Truths).  Using the life and work of the conceptual artist and photographer Heinz-Günter Mebusch (1952-2001) the book is going far beyond the personal aspect. It is a unique philosophical parkour, undertaken into the realms of knowledge and belief. The publication was made possible by using  manuscripts from ArtForum archive. First edition will be published in German. An English edition is in preparation.

A further long-term project is dedicated to the late Swiss artist photographer Vera Isler (1931 - 2015). Together with the Art-Nachlassverwaltung in Bern/Switzerland,  Artforum Culture Foundation is managing photographic portfolios of significant cultural heritage. A highlight of the collection are the hundreds of ultimate portraits of the important artists from the second half of the 20th century. Artforum Editions has published catalogues and editions, a monograph is in preparation.

Under the aka Art Production (AP) Astra, an artist pool of well-known and unknown artists was established outside their own artist brand in the early 1980s with the aim to create independently symbiotic art for young collectors. This commitment had become necessary due to the limitations that artists are often confronted inside the market activities. Over the years, a common line developed, in which visual appeal and content form a popular form. AP Astra became one of the favorite creators of graphic editions.

Great projects have been associated with crossover talent Michael Jansen for many years. Beuys already became aware of his artistic talent when he invited him to joint projects (see a.o. their collaborated work in the Lichtenstein Art Museum, Vaduz). Among the many cooperated publications are: Zeichen (signs) , Assemblagen, 2004, MetroMusic. Accompanied by an extensive series of graphic works, the volume OptiMystic Vitamins was recently published with pictures that were brought to light by Jansen from the wonder worlds of artistic fantasies. For the estimated viewer these images are a chance to become a life companion, both in private and in public space.

Another great artist, who collaborate for many years with ArtForum Editions is the painter, sculptor, graphic artist and filmmaker Heinz Zolper. He became famous  through creation of the “Dame” motif as a big icon for women and gender equality. But generally his icon is a symbol and motivation for love and respect. Just in his early years he was cooperating with Andy Warhol, both admired each other's personality and work. Graphics by Zolper have been published over the last years exclusively by ArtForum Editions. Recently a few book publication were published by ArtForum Editions:   Safiriou, Magic of painting / or / What it's like to be yourself.  Paintings by Heinz Zolper 1979 - 2019 and Safiriou, Zolper. Kain – Prinzip des Bösen i principle of the Evil. Both books were edited by Peter Merten  and published in limited editions, some with graphic supplements.

A monograph of Georgios Bouzians and his contribution to German and European expressionism has been in preparation for years. Numerous images from private collections will provide a vivid picture of this artist who was formerly active in Greece, France and Germany.

The importance of Greek artists and art mediators can no longer be ignored in the history of modern art. A project about a compendium on the importance of Greek modern and contemporary art had started in the early 1990s. It will due for publication in conjunction with an updated artist dictionary.  Just to say a few names: the influences of Zervos and Teriade on classic modern art are as much a fact as e.g. the influence and support of Alexander Iolas to modern and popular art (from Magritte to Warhol). Greek artists like Gyzis, Parthenis, Bouzianis, Ghikas, Gaitis, Tsarouchis, Akrithakis or Kounellis have left also lasting impressions.

However, art has no borders. It speaks it’s own language. The  American star photographer George DuBose pointed this out very clear, when he said: I speak music (milao musiki). He has gone  to photograph and design more than 300 album and single covers for such diverse artists as the Ramones, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, XCLAN, RunDMC and Melissa Etheridge. In 2009, the New York Times said "DuBose is one of the most important album designers in the past 40 years". Bonafide Magazine (UK) called DuBose: "The Godfather of Hip Hop Photography", Grand Slam Magazine (UK) called DuBose: "Hip-Hop's most recognizable photographer.  For 2020 four art-calendars were published in cooperation with Wonderland Publishing, New York, as limited (signed and numbered) artist editions: George Dubose - Photography. Limited calendar - editions: My Best Shot. Rockers and New Wave artists I Old School Hip-Hop I Tom Waits I Madonna ... Raw. A very early concert. Further book and photo-editions will follow in close cooperation.

It is a simple truth: Artists and their art need support. That's the reason ArtForum Editions publishes graphic editions as well as art catalogues and monographs on art. ArtForum Editions is giving as well advise to talented and established artists who are looking for an art-historical and art-philosophical discussion of their art and help to realise projects.

 

CULTURAL SCENE – GREECE

A.P. ASTRA - The European Bull - Artforum Culture Foundation

A.P. ASTRA – The European Bull – Artforum Culture Foundation

Almost forty years after the fall of the dictatorship Greece is a blossoming democratic state, member of the EU, has already experienced his first immigration wave and now tries to find his new role on the map of the world. Also the contemporary art has profited from this situation and blossoms for about twenty years increasingly. The absence of an intelligent and well structured policy for the promotion of contemporary art, the financially poor public promotion, the lack of institutions and of necessarily infrastructure for contemporary art has isolated living culture of Greece and artists long time from the international mainstream. Still before a very short time one understood the visual arts (and culture generally) as a kind of tradition. It was, however, closed in itself and ethnocentric and in which academic axioms like “Hellenism” and the admiration of the antiquity took a high value.
Against it one saw “advanced” Greek art almost only abroad (from artists like Kounellis, Samara or Takis), at home hold it an edge existence. Only in the very last time the knowledge asserts itself with difficulty that art is a must for cultures identity, exactly in relation while it based on experiences which itself will get to know directly.

The today’s Greek society has assimilated mediterrane and oriental influence as well as western lifestyle and western consumer behaviour. In spite of traditional traditions, more narrowly family connections and a conservative mighty orthodox church Greece is already a country oriented absolutely to the west. During the last years a lot has done, in particular thanks to private initiative and privately financial support. New showrooms, galleries and artist’s initiatives, and two state museums in Athens and Thessaloniki, the two biggest Greek cities in which all most the artistic activities concentrate for contemporary art, were established. The growing cultural scene is determined, above all, by the big collectors, private museums and a germinating gallery scene and is anew animated. Even the artfair of Athens (Art Athina), the yearly shop-window of local art trade with increasing international participation, was brought to life in 1994 from a private initiative of engaged gallery owners.

Another leading figure in the art scene was his former multi-billionaire’s colleague Dimitris Pieridis also coming from Cyprus, his activities, nevertheless, reach from the antiquity up to rather less supported contemporary Greek art. Vlassis Frissiras is one of the 10 most significant art collectors of the world and a profilic promoter of contemporary art. His museum shows important works of Greek art and more than 3000 examples of international contemporary art like of Peter Blake, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, to Paola Rego, Jean Rustin, Pat Andrea, Valerio Adami, Mimo Paladino, Antonio Segui u.v.a. Farther significant collections and private institutes are the Lambrakis Research Foundation and the Basil and Elis Goulandris Foundation.

In comparison to Athens the artscene of Thessaloniki is less spectacularly, without a jet set character. But on the other side, here in the centre of the South-east European cultures and economic movements the people are related more to substance and look more to their own cultural identity. This was maybe one reason, why the incomparable collection with works of Russian avant-garde artists of the Greek George Costakis (1913-1990), formerly resident of Moscow and one of the most significant collectors of the 20th century, came to Thessaloniki. Artforum Culture Foundation is hosted since 1996 in Thessaloniki as well.  The Museum of Modern art, inside the fair ground of Helexpo, holds a huge collection of international and Greek art, supported from the private collection of Alexander Iolas.

Just in spider of the Southeast, in Thessaloniki, the resumption of cultural priority and a suitable promotion can carry on not only the economic development, but also be a guarantor for an international common language. Outgoing from the knowledge that blossoming cultures and growing national economies cause itself mutually,  the missing or otherwise used official support is of course still a not satisfactory brake moment.

There exists some fine collections with international and Greek contemporary art. Thus the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography is just the only museum devoted to this prospering medium in Greece – and one of just a few of its kind in Europe. From determining influence in this region and further on is also the gallery-conglomerate Tsatsis Projects / Artforum, one of the most significant Galleries generally in Greece. The narrow co-operation to Artforum Culture Foundation enables in common strain to be involved in central area of contemporary culture. Pantelis Tsatsis founded as well 2016 the now leading artfair of Greece: Art Thessaloniki.

Also the audience grows bit by bit for contemporary art, however, the market for such works is still small. It corresponds to an order of logic that on the opening to contemporary culture in the country itself, in the end, will follow also the interest abroad. Besides, the extension of the art understanding will contribute to the self-esteem also of the Greeks and the people of the greater area all over the world. Besides, stylistic questions are, actually, of secondary nature, it is determining which contents are transported. It would be to be thought absurd that an equalised art that means an art calls to western measurements would have future. Forms and colours may pass in a global world without shade, but spiritual penetration of life can arise always only from the own culture and landscape and will develop in confrontation to the unknown.
Jannis Kounellis formulated it in his charta, published 1995 in Milan, with these words: …  then you find a language with which to construct an image, every age identifies with a new image, that nevertheless contains the past as imaginary and as language, albeit essentially reformed.

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.

MAKE JEWISH LIFE IN GREECE NORMAL AGAIN

Thessaloniki’s identity is embedded in its unique history as a multi-cultural city with long enduring prolific co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Thessaloniki’s Jewish community, the oldest in Europe, was present in the city for 2,000 years and was the largest ethnic community of the city between the years 1492 and 1912. The fire of 1917 destroyed many of the Jewish buildings of Thessaloniki. After Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire, it made Jews full citizens of the country in the 1920s. During World War II, the Nazi Germans occupied Greece in 1941, and started to systematically persecute the Jews as they had in other parts of Europe. In 1943 they forced the Jews in Thessaloniki into a ghetto near the rail lines, and started deporting them to concentration camps (KZ)  and so called labor camps, where most of the nearly 69,000 deported were killed or died horribly as a result of the deportation. This resulted in the near-extermination of the community. The extermination of the Jewish community during the German occupation of World War II erased much of the city’s Jewish fabric. Only 1200 Jews live in the city today. Another sad chapter in the history of the city is the lack of support provided by the episcopat of Thessaloniki, which, in contrast to the archbishop of Athens, was not committed to their fellow Jewish citizens.

After a turbulent history, under the mayor Jannis Boutaris the city has resumed its responsibilities and established close contacts with the people of Turkey, Israel and especially the Jewish world population. Especially in difficult Turkish, Greek and European times, the close contact for freedom, peace and prosperity is necessary and conducive.

In particular, David Saltiel, the president of the religious community, had a dream and made a prominent contribution to the new development of Jewish life.  A recommendation and a must when visiting the city is definitely the 2001 founded Jewish Museum in the heart of the old town. Following discussions with Gaiose SA, the organization that manages the real estate property of the Railway Organization of Greece, and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki signed end of 2013, a Memorandum of understanding for the development of a Memorial Center on Holocaust Education Remembrance and Research.

For the German government, it should be a special obligation, honour and only a small helping hand, to successfully support the establishment and maintenance of this planned memorial site and cultural center. At the same time, the funds promised to Saltiel by the German government and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation have led to controversy within the community, since many people do not want to end the catastrophic chapter of the mass murder of the Thessalian Jews with a relatively modest donation. It is to be hoped that both Saltiel’s commitment and the legitimate demand for further work can finally progress. It is estimated that the project will cost a total of almost 30 million euros. The cultural foundation of the Greek ship-owner Niarchos wants to contribute ten million euros. Millions more are to come from American and French clubs. And the German Bundestag decided to promote the construction project with another ten million euros. Half of this has already been paid out.

By offering the city of Thessaloniki a new public monument, the proposed Holocaust Memorial & Human Rights Educational Center seeks to commemorate the devastating fate of the Jewish community, but also to recount its cultural history and rejuvenation after World War II, and to host an open forum for multi-cultural education and forward-looking dialogs between various identity groups.