Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter January 2012

The Berlin - Athens connection

This bicycle for rent gives something to think about in Berlin when it is cold and the January wind sweeps over the bridge of Friedrichstraße. It could be seen while walking towards the Heinrich Böll Foundation, where was planned a discussion about the Greek crisis, January 23 - 24. 2012. More remarkable is that the crisis felt in Athens, Greece cannot be linked to the world in Berlin. It is a different world. Things in Berlin appear to be of a different disposition towards handling economic success and social plight. But back in Athens, at the beginning of the year, the signs of the crisis augment and the question is how long will it take to find a turn-around or a way out of the recession?


The art scene in Berlin: the imaginary power


The changes in the art scene of Berlin 2011-12

There are tremendous changes happening in the art scene of Berlin. This is mainly due to many new art galleries having either moved in or changed location. The use of spaces are altered constantly. The former building of the Tagesspiegel houses now at the back, in the huge court yard, in particular in two houses to the left when coming a range of new galleries, including gallery 401 for Contemporary Art. As this first oversight but gives only some inkling as to what this new art scene entail, a lot will have to be explored further in 2012. Changes can be noticed everywhere. It can start with the University of the Arts at Steinplatz / Hardenbergstreet. Last November this school was visited together with artist and former teacher of the school called 'Kunst im Kontext' (art in context), namely Jula Dech. In conversations with both students and professors, it became clear that the path taken by many artists differs nowadays very much from those times when lessons of materials dominated and studio work meant working hard under the guidance of one professor. Today a professor can attract students simply because he has a link to exhibition spaces. Thus it is important to hear the voice of the well known artist and stage designer Andrej Woron. He thinks artist should not look so much for places where they can exhibit their work, but rather they should look at the work itself. Above all he sees the danger of being too quickly satisfied with what they have done so far and then rush on to do more work of the same. Since art works and values of art are being created by a newly formed art market in Berlin, this entails many new and varied aspects. It will require an ongoing reflection in terms of aesthetics, art history, philosophy, vision and ethics to understand in which direction all this is heading. It has altered already the portrait of a young artist as observed by James Joyce with regards to Dublin and his life back then.


Athens - 2011- 12


The crisis can be seen - a former shop for cleaning clothes closed at the start of the new year 2012, and this on Sina Street just opposite the French Institute and thus in Kolonaki, the supposingly well off district of Athens. To be fair, just further down the street, at the corner Sina and Skoufa, the restaurant at the corner went into new restoration, while just a bit further up on Skoufa another new bar is preparing to open up. But in-between the bio-shop closed doors as well. Officially it is expected that 60 000 shops will close according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE). Due to the austerity measures, people have to save wherever they can. With the closure of shops, it is estimated that about 160 000 jobs are lost.


This person sleeping in the street could be seen just around the corner from Kolonaki Square. Due to the cold weather in January, the city of Athens is making an extra effort to take care of the many homeless people. Blankets and food are being distributed while an emergency phone number is given in order to ensure no one freezes to death or dies out of starvation. It is estimated that Athens has now about 15,000 homeless but presumably this shall be rising. By the same token, a look at every entrance tells how many apartments even in Kolonaki are no longer rented. The yellow strips with red letters as typical format for announcing a place is up for rent or sale have multiplied. It is soon possible to count not just one or two of these stripes, but they can exceed single digit numbers.


The question is what will become of Greece in case society cannot handle any longer this crisis and all sorts of negative political ramifications will play themselves out? There is even talk about society becoming again polarized and thus it reminds of what led to the civil war (1945-47).

Greece and Europe in crisis

Reflections about current political developments in Greece (2011-2012)

Since Jorgios Papandreou has been replaced as prime minister by the technocrat Papademos in Greece, a creative tension has evaporated. Some say this has to do with the style of the former banker, namely to say just simple things. No exaggeration, no overt promises which cannot be kept! He has way of conveying things in a sober way. He simply puts things as they are. Naturally this does not explain why his popularity within a very short time has plunged. 80% of the Greeks no longer believe he can pull it off i.e. avoid default. If reforms fail to materialize, then because the three political leaders who are right now making up this uneasy coalition with Papademos at the helm are already waiting to launch ahead into elections! After all Papademos is but a transitional figure; by himself he has no democratic legitimization as he never stood for elections. He has been merely appointed or rather hieved into the job as Prime Minister for the sake of keeping face for Greece. Whatever can be said about the current news, they are like the waves swapping over the piers in the harbours during the winter storms. Everything is being tested as to what can still withstand the onslaught of more forces. They are made up of many disbeliefs. However, some say instead of protest uncertainty has gripped the minds of many. Shops close, people lose their jobs and money due to high taxes has evaporated. There is nothing left to spend on something extra. And the despair grows because after all these sacrifices and cut-backs there is still no solution in sight. And to make things worse, those giving credit are losing rapidly in patience i.e. in confidence Greece can still manage meaningful reforms. Already voices in Germany say to let the Greek state default i.e. crash or even worse FDP Rößler proposed to appoint a Commissioner who would oversee the finances of the Greek state. That idea was floated and then quickly rejected by the European Commission and called even by Greek MP Dimanapoula as the product of a 'sick imagination'. Again national sovereignty was cited by Finance Minister Venizelous even though the 'sovereign debt' of Greece does not allow for such claim of independence. Rather the discussions have become trapped in what amounts to ill founded attempts of change in character or 'mentality'. Everyone knows this will not work, and not merely because the austerity measures have driven the Greek economy ever deeper into recession. Rather the sought reforms presuppose a change in values and attitudes towards life. But this cannot be achieved within three years as foreseen by the Memorandum nor even within ten or more years. Closer would come as a measure of time to work through all these changes the time it took Odyssey to find his way home, namely 22 years. Marie Iliou in her film 'The Journey' would depict still another aspect of such a voyage in need to embard upon if something is to change, namely the readiness to pay a 'high prize' by giving up something till now sacred and a part of the Greek way of life. For sure, it is a model, but not an abstract one as revealed in the film by Angelopoulos. The crisis and the recession has put that into doubt even if some return to the land to cultivate it again like their forefathers and before they left the land to live in Athens. Now everything is changing without doing anything. As Sokrates Kabouropoulos puts it, the future has become 'abstract'.

HF 1.2.2012
See also
Diary of a crisis - a daily account of the days leading up to Papandreou call for a referendum and then the turn around which led to him stepping down as Prime Minister of Greece and his replacement by banker Papademos
Interview with Cafe Babel: everyone should enjoy the freedom to live his or her own craziness, provided no one else is harmed



In memory of Angelopoulos


Untimely the Greek film director Angelopoulos died after a tragic road accident. It happened at night. A motorcycle driven by an off duty policeman apparently did not see him in time as he was crossing a dark street and hit him so severely that he never recovered in hospital from the injuries. He was just filming a night scene of his new film to reflect upon the current crisis in Greece. Contrary to his film crew, he did not wear a yellow efforescent vest to be visible at night. It was both a fluke accident and tragic.

Unforgetable is his film 'the theatre troubadours'. The film depicts how a theatre group wanders through the various phases of Greek history. Always the staging of their plays was interrupted by mainly outside interventions e.g. the start of Second World War with Germans entering to occupy the country, then at the end of the war the liberation, but that too was short lived for Left and Right plunged into a civil war that cost many more lives; finally, the Americans enter to mark the beginning of Greek society sliding towards a new form of dictatorship.

Outside interventions have wounded the Greek soul over many centuries. It may explain some of the confusion or the unwillingness to depart from the role of victim when it comes to face the current financial crisis.

The films by Angelopoulos highlight another Greece. He does so in a most poetic and melancholic way. Indeed, all his films touch upon wounds no one wishes to talk about in today's modern Greece. Many more are even infuriated at his slow moving pictures. Yet this sign of impatience is a sign of people caught up a what they believe is a fast moving world, and in which efficiency is demonstrated by merely rushing on.

Angelopoulos shows above all times when not only schisms between Left and Right divided Greek society, but there prevailed during hard winters also deeply honest equally resistent people. Often they had to learn to survive not only with bare hands through a cold winter but also everything from torture or rape to prosecution and imprisonment.

There is one article which pays tribute to this great work by Angelopoulos: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/27/greece-theo-angelopoulos?INTCMP=SRCH


Politics - the tasks ahead


 Political challenges ahead 

The technocratic way of ruling Europe is depriving its cultures of a much needed oxgyen only made available by people being engaged in critical dialogues. That used to be the strength of European cultural diversity. Dialogues would start with a poetic metaphor and then go through various levels - social, political, international, universal - to claim a truth in the name of universal values. They were linked to recognizing the other as a human being. That universality has been put into dispute. Unfortunately as time passes, most of those who had the courage to speak out lost that sense of truth. The latter is to be understood as a system in need of constant challenge. Instead of challenging false claims of truth, an acquiescence to pragmatic negotiation styles has left those willing to challenge outside the game. Now the only demand to be made is to have at the very least some consistency. Otherwise the failure of the system is marked by people no longer able to work through contradictions. No wonder when general politics as it is misunderstood systematically does not come up with thought through solutions. Rather the norm is set by the technological definition of what works. That leaves human commitment far behind current developments. There can be heard only the kind of silence Ernst Bloch identified as the silence of the cemetery. 

HF 2.2.2012


EU Youth Project: Nation and Identity

A project for young people from Poland, Germany, Austria, Greece and Italy

27 youth (not all are in the picture) try to discover and define what notions of nation and patriotism mean nowadays for younger generations. How much does nationality influence our identity? How can we define the patriotism of today without falling into the trap of nationalism?

Meeting I: Nation and Identity: Define, Debate, Understand

Kreisau / Krzyżowa (Poland): 23.- 29.02.212

Meeting II: Nation and Identity: Conclude and Spread the Word

Padua (Italy): 11.-17.6.2012

For further information go to:

EU Youth Project: Nation and Identity

The participating youth have created as well on Facebook following discussion forum:





Man searching in rubbish can

Treatise about economic theory

Poverty of Experience by Hatto Fischer

EU Cultural Policy


European Capitals of Culture

The University Network of European Capitals of Culture held its conference in Antwerp, Oct. 27 - 28, 2011. The theme 'crisis in culture - crisis in ECoC cities' of the conference was most appropriate since it came in the immediate aftermath to the crisis session in Brussels on Oct. 26, 2011. It lasted well into the early mornings as there was to decide what the EU could do to avert a default of Greece, while other EU members, including Portugal, Spain, Ireland but as well Italy and even France were struggling to keep their credibitably and thus the interest rates down when it comes to the states to take up short and long term loans to finance their deficits.

Hatto Fischer made a presentation about 'crisis in culture - crisis in the project of European Capitals of Culture'.

City, Culture and Sustainability

A research team is being formed at Poiein kai Prattein to look into this interconnectivity between city, culture and sustainability. Research has already been done with regards to 'cities of tomorrow' (Kristina Kresztely), cultural cooperation in border regions (Rafael Mandujano), action research and sustainability (Olegl Koefoed), the example of regime building in Thessaloniki when European Capital of Culture (Anestis D. Mantatzis), the radio and urban spaces (Jan Brüggemeier), planning law in Greece (Anna Arvanitaki) and EU cultural policy and ECoC stories (Hatto Fischer).

Anestis D. Mantatzis, Regional and Urban Planning MSc

Rafael Mandujano, Ph.D. about Cultural Cooperation in Border Regions

Kristina Kresztely, Independent Research Consultant in Urban and Cultural Policy

Oleg Koefoed, Action Philosopher

Jan Brüggemeier, Media artist

Thematically speaking, this research is thus linked to European Capitals of Culture and the open question of how to build up an archive. That was exemplified by the conference organized by Poiein kai Prattein together with Cultura 21: “Can and do European Capitals of Culture contribute towards a culture of sustainability?” held in Berlin May 2011.

Urban Planning

Anna Arvanitaki shall focus primarily on the strand of thought linking efforts to promote and refine urban planning in Greece to the question what positive and practical role can play the administration in terms of regulations and efficiency when it comes to applying legislation?


'IMPERISHABLE WATER and the open question of development'

Together with curator Charoula Hadjinicolaou, Poiein kai Prattein undertook May/June 2011 an action on Rhodes to come to terms with 'water / wetland' related issues and the open question of development. Currently follow-up work is being done to prepare a catalogue. The aim of this publication is to reflect what was articulated by artists, biologists, philosophers, engineers, planners within this 'biotope of ideas'.


Gizani fish as symbol of Rhodes


Since 2005 Poiein kai Prattein has become involved in Kids' Guernica related activities to promote cultural actions based on a collaborative learning process.

The house depicted as logos can be found in the Kids' Guernica mural called ‘The War is Over’. It was the first contribution of Poiein kai Prattein to Kids’ Guernica when celebrating its 10th Anniversary in Ubud, Bali 2005. There followed exhibitions in Crete and Chios, and October 2007 in Athens. The latter exhibition was linked with the ECCM Symposium 'Productivity of Culture'. The recommendation was made then Kids' Guernica should be linked to every city which becomes European Capital of Culture see Wroclaw 2016 in Poland, and furthermore San Sebastian 2016. The latest action of Kids' Guernica in Europe has been in Tübingen, Germany while actions continue in Japan, Haiti, Israel and Togo in Africa.



Kids' Guernica started in Japan in 1995 in response to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The idea is very simple: children, youth and even adults can paint together their message of peace on a canvas having the same size as Picasso's Guernica (7,8 x 3,5 m)

More information can be obtained on the webpages of Poiein kai Prattein and at the international website: www.kids-guernica.org

Planned Kids' Guernica action in 2012 - Egypt and in Togo, Africa


Children at Kakadu school in Togo           Photo by Christa Kleinbub

Ines Dulay-Winkler together with Hatto Fischer are organizing a youth delegation to travel to Egypt in June 2012, while Christa Kleinbub at her school in Mannheim is collecting funds in support of a Kids' Guernica action in Togo, Africa.


Platform for Intercultural Europe

Poiein kai Prattein is a member of the Platform for Intercultural Europe.

Platform for Intercultural Europe

The Platform for Intercultural Europe has focused primarily on migrant /immigrant related issues as it is considered to be a test case of Europe's capacity to integrate people from different cultural backgrounds. There are many different levels to integration, the difference of being a society with open or closed doors just one aspect of it. In terms of culture, it has been said in a report about UK museums and cultural institutions in 2005, that too few of them have a staff which reflects the composition of the diverse population existing in every city. There are missing the artefacts of the various communities making their own creative contributions, and even if museums have collected some of them, they lack the experts who could interpret them and tell their story. All of this can be linked to the crucial importance of such narratives being told which reflect all integration efforts to strengthen and to retain social and economic cohesion. The holding together of society is a matter of being out bounded and therefore open to many new possibilities to develop together.

In Athens, Greece work all migrant groups face difficulties of integration. Especially in a crisis like this one, immigrants must make tremendous efforts to have their Rights be respected. As this can be done only in co-operation with Greek, EU and international citizens, communication linkages needed to created in order to prevent exclusion and discrimination. These two are more often linked to misunderstandings and fear of the other(s). It is important to attain Rights for all, Greek citizens and the socalled foreigners. It has always been the credo of the Polis in Ancient Greece that no judge should treat a foreigner different from a citizen of the Polis. This demand for equality in front of the common law should be a shared constitutional principles everywhere in the world. Only that can ensure a sound base for a common life to be shared.

For further information about the work of the Platform of Intercultural Europe see:



12 - 14.1.2012 Preparatory meeting of European Youth project 'Identity and Nation' coordinated by the Kreisau Initiative to be held in Berlin with 2 workshops to follow: 1st seminar in Krzyzowa, Poland 23-29.2.2012 and 2nd seminar in Padua, Italy (11 - 17.6.2012)

February 22 - 25  College Art Association, with the support of Getty Foundation, shall host international art historians at the CAA Centennial Conference in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Convention Center.

March 15 Delegation of World Poetry Movement visiting President Michael D. Higgins in Dublin, Ireland

March 21 Day of poetry organized by World Poetry Movement in Paris


vous invite à une lecture en collaboration avec

La Biennale des Poètes en Val de Marne

et L’Oreille du Loup

Le mercredi 21 mars 2012 à 19H

Au MOTif

6, villa MarcelLods, Passage de l’Atlas, 75019 Paris

Métro Belleville (lignes 2 et 11) / Bus ligne 26


Actions in Athens

It's happening here, too:


March 20 - 24 in Gdansk EUROPEAN POETRY OF FREEDOM

March 24 - 27 World Poetry Movement delegation in Brussels - includes meeting with Commissioner Vassiliou on March 27th and poetry readings in Antwerp and at Passa Porta in Brussels on March 27th, 20.00

April 16 - 17 Conference in Paris - Marne-la-Vallee about "Building the urban future and Transit Orientated Development / rail and other modes, connecting with urban and regional development": http://www.aesop-planning.eu/news/en_GB/2011/09/14/readabout/call-for-abstract-building-the-urban-future-and-transit-oriented-development-rail-and-other-modes-connecting-with-urban-and-regional-development

April 19 - 21 Conference on 'History, Memory, Performance' organized by the Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa and the Carleton Centre for Public History, Carleton University.
This bilingual, international conference explores themes relating to history, memory and performance and will generate discussions about how historical meaning is created in the theatre and how theatrical performances shape our understanding of the past.


June 11 - 17  EU Youth Project 'Nation and Identity' meeting in Padua, Italy

June 23 - 29 International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia and organized by World Poetry Movement. Fernando Rendon as coordinator.

17 - 18 June European Capitals of culture: what past, what future? Conference in Avignon organized by Les Rencontres together with University Network of European Capitals of Culture
the site: http://www.lesrencontres.eu/

August 25 - September 1  Meeting of Kids' Guernica in Gezoncourt, France with Alexandra Zanne organizing the event.

October 18 - 21 6.ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival at Babylon in Berlin www.literaturwerkstatt.org


Hatto Fischer   Athens 1.2.2012

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