Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter October - December 2015


               House of refugees in Elefsina / Eleusis  2015  


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:

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.

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.

   Source: Work process with refugees - Anka Landtau

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. 

Hatto Fischer

Athens 27.9.2015

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.


European Capitals of Culture

Current ECoCs

Mons 2015

Pilsen 2015

Riga 2014

"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/

Umeå 2014

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 



Future ECoCs

San Sebastian 2016 and Wroclaw 2016

Aarhus 2017 and Paphos 2017

Valletta 2018


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

Candidate cities

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

very 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'.




In Tripoli, Lebanon another mural has been painted, informs Valia Mhai along with three children painted a mural with the significant title: To remember we need to forget. The mural was painted in commeration of the bombings of two mosques in Tripoli 2013. They developed a very rich symbolic language out of a strong longing for peace.

Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth action took place in the local community of Zabbar / Malta 2014 under the guidance of Gertrude Spiteri and Paul Dalli together with Hatto Fischer .

Gerold Schuman in Ecouen initiated an action in "parc naturel duVexin" in March/April 2015 with the murals painted in commeration of the First World War. See Mémoire(s) de la Grande Guerre 2015

Alexandra Zanne completed her documentary film of the mural action 'Seeds of Peace' or in French Graines de paix 2014 done with children battling with their bodies due to epileptic attacks. See https://vimeo.com/114130300

The artist Sonia Goggisberg and Ariana Rocha, director of ONG taking care of 270 kids per day, have started together in August 2015 a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth action in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They will start painting on the canvas in October 2015.

The first mural painted in Togo, Africa in 2015 came about thanks to the initiative of Christa Klenbub-Dunkl and Rainer Rene Mueller.
Bericht von Christa Kleinbub-Dunkl und Rainer-René Mueller
The Togo Report by Christa Kleinbub-Dunkl and Rainer-René Mueller


Conferences 2015

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





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