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News from the mazed world

Image courtesy: (accessed October 19, 2011)
Greece is suffering seemingly on all fronts: national debt, soaring taxes, high unemployment. But art is flourishing in reponse. Street art and graffitti, so long a feature of Athenian neighbourhoods, articulates intelligent aesthetic responses to grief and hardship. Small galleries have been appearing across Athens in the Metaxourgio district and beyond, and a dozen of them are participating this month in the international ReMap 3 project. There is an article by Rachel Donadio with photos in the International Herald Tribune, weekend edition, October 15-16, 2011 (you can find it in a library archive; there’s no free online access to IHT or the New York Times). Here’s an extract:

‘It’s as if someone asked you that you have to be a different person tomorrow’, the novelist Alexis Stamatis said. ‘Every artist has a dilemma. On the one hand, we are witnessing history in the making. On the other, we are suffering’.

At the Kunsthalle Athena, an exhibition titled ‘Summer in the Middle of Winter’ filled the beautifully run-down building, a warren of rooms with peeling paint, ornate mouldings and spotty wiring. On the moldy walls of one room hung a simple, understated image by the Greek artist Lydia Dambassina: a Greek flag folded on a desk, with a copy of the the newspaper Ta Nea from March 2010, around the time that Greece’s foreign lenders sent representatives to visit, and the wortds in German, ‘Alle Wege sind Verschlossen’, or ‘All ways are closed’.

On another wall was a clever, wistful installation by the young Greek artist Stefania Strouza, who typed phrases from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and framed them. ‘Before the time seemed Athens as a paradise to me’, read one. ‘The Jaws of darkness do devour it up: So quick bright things come to confusion’, read another. ‘My soul consents not to give sovereignity’, another. (p.3)

We are reading AMND in EX120 this week. It is a more melancholy play than many of us remember. While the future Duchess of Athens sports the time, Titania, Queen of the Fairies, voices the fear and uncertainty of the world turned upside down in Act III scene i. From Greece to the Globe, and vice versa.

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