Greece host Open House Worldwide

Open House Thessaloniki

How much do you pay attention to buildings you pass by and stop to look at them? Do you regard architectures as things to appreciate along with other artifacts? Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, provides an event called, “Open house worldwide.” Private and public sites will open doors on the day to people giving a chance to think about what architecture makes itself special within the city.

Greece became a member of the Open House family this month and will present 60 selected sites of architecture to the public for one weekend from Nov. 23rd to 25th. The idea of Open House Worldwide initiated in London in 1992 and 21 cities all over the world have joined drawing people to the cities since then.

Saint Sophia Church from 8th century


So how people will actually enjoy this opportunity? There are some reviews from previous visitors of Open House from other cities.

A visitor of Open House in England said “Open House Weekend was a chance for everyday plebs like me to have a look inside some of the city’s most remarkable buildings.” He took the opportunity to visit some of London’s unique libraries. Another blog said, “One of many London buildings not usually accessible to the public is the Victorian Bethlem Hospital at the Imperial War Museum. (…) Some of the distinct hospital locations, however, will be open for visitors on Saturday 18 September only, as part of Open House London weekend.”

Barcelona also hosted Open House last October, and a blogger posted, “So what is there to see? (…) For anyone fascinated by architecture, history or just Barcelona itself, this weekend is sure to be a real eye-opener. Check out the program either by day or district or there’s a map showing all of the locations.”


Architectural Center from 1900s

A Greek blog talked about the Open house was translated: “For one weekend, sixty public and private buildings open doors to the public free of charge and the city turns into one big museum, with exhibits of the same buildings and architecture, contributing to the emergence of the importance of architecture in daily lives.”

A lot of people are showing interest on The Open House of Thessaloniki with 1,307 likes on Facebook and 110 twitter followers. It launched the official website introducing architectures ready to be open. They include residential, educational, cultural, or public buildings and monuments built from the ancient world to Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire and the early 20th century.

Open House encourage people’s involvement through official website where people can suggest buildings and sites that they think are meaningful.

It is a good thing that Greece has joined Open House family as a birthplace where western architectures have stemmed from. The value of architecture is well demonstrated in Frank Lloyd Wright’s saying: “The mother art is architecture, without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization.”

People who are interested in architecture but did not know where to begin, Open House  Thessaloniki will be a great start to look into building around them, and for those from different places will also be able to appreciate what kind of characterful architectures are in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece lasted for around three thousand years in Greek history. Over this long history, the art of ancient Greece had influenced enormously on the culture of western countries.

© The Trustees of The British Museum 2012. All rights reserved.


The exhibition, “The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece” has opened on October 6 in Portland Art Museum in Oregon presenting 120 priceless objects from the British Museum with 10 sections: The male body beautiful, Aphrodite and the female body, The divine body, Herakles, Superman, Athletes, Birth, marriage, and death, Sex and desire, Outsiders, Character and realism and The human face.


The Human Body in Ancient Greek Art and Thought


According to Portland Art Museum’ official website; “The exhibition features more than 120 priceless objects from the British Museum’s famed collection of Greek and Roman art. Iconic marble and bronze sculptures vessels, funerary objects, and jewelry are among the treasure that explore the human form, some dating back to the second millennium BC.”

Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

The Oregonian’s review said on October 5, “As the exhibition’s title suggests, these objects—which range from enormous sculptures of deities to utilitarian vessels—focus on the physical body, which was celebrated with unreserved enthusiasm in ancient Greek culture.”


“The body Beautiful in Ancient Greece explores the Greek’s fascination with the human body and humanity which was pervasive I ancient Greek culture. In drama, philosophy, history, scientific medicine, (…) Greek was the first to direct the human mind on its modern quest for self-knowledge,” said Artcentro.

The ideal realism that the ancient Greeks had pursued are regarded to be the most beautiful shape in western art history.

I believe this will be a good opportunity for people to appreciate human forms created by ancient Greek people traveling in time back to Olympia and Acropolis which were the birthplace of art.

Once-leper colony islet converts into a work of art.


Spinalonga is an islet located in east Crete, a territory of Greece. This tiny island is known as a popular tourist attraction today, but has a tremendous history expanded from Ancient Greek, Venentian, Ottoman, and finally in 20th century, it was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957.


That the island was once a leper colony was learned to a lot of people by a novel The Island in 2005, the story of a family’s ties to the leper colony. And this time, the islet has turned into a work of art by a renowned Greek artist, Costas Tsoklis.


Tsoklis titled the exhibition “You, the last leper,” which runs from June 2nd to October 31st.  In the exhibition’s official website, Tsoklis worte:

“In the ancient Greek tragedies, where the fate of the heroes is always gloomy, the beauty of speech arrives followed by the unexpected solutions to the complicated relationships and situations, to redeem the heroes, as well as the viewer. In the same manner, I aspire to identify the visitor with all those isolated from society, who saw their bodies and souls slowly melting away, and then redeem him through the charm of nature and art, leading him eventually to the realisation of his own luck, and thus enabling him to enjoy the gifts of life, of freedom and of art.”


A tourist who visited Splinalonga blogged about the exhibition and she said Mirrors played a big part in the exhibition,which the patients of that time didn’t have any. Also there was “a sculpture which was set out on a long bar above a large drop, depicting an inmate about to jump.” Then she added it struck her as odd as a tour guide said the island was actually a happy place where the patients were given medical treatment, food, water, and social security payments with no suicides.


However, I doubt whether the island was full of happiness. The patients were isolated from the outside world in a tiny island, and I think it is human’s instinct to want to know a different world and expand their horizons, which they were not allowed to.


Another blogger mentioned about the exhibition that “Sources of inspiration for the artist is the island itself and the ruins of the buildings, the hopeless desire to escape (“Incoming drop there any hope,” was written on the entrance), the desperate need to communicate with the outside world, many suicides, wear, lack of mirrors, the intense eroticism, death and births, the dirt and the tidiness and petty trade exercised over the island.”


Hansen’s disease used to be regarded as infectious disease, which is not true. This was widely thought not only in Greece but other countries, such as South Korea which has an islet called So-Rok-Do that used for leper colony. Some people call these islands as “islands of tears”. It is amazing how art can demonstrate things like Tsoklis does. It shed a light on our sad history and raises people’s  awareness to sympathy their pains.




Made in Athens in the13th International Architectural Exhibition


The 13th Venice Architecture Biennale opened to the public Aug 29th, which will run until Nov 25th. The exhibition is one of the most influential international architectural exhibitions, which takes place every other year.  Under this year’s theme,  “Common ground,” 69 projects made by architects, critiques and scholars were spread in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini in Italy.

Among those displayed in each nation’s pavilion, “Made in Athens” in Greek pavilion draws attention with a reflection of the nation’s contemporary social, economic status.

Greek pavilion’s official press release described contemporary Athens as a city of two contradictions; “a city whose particular identity was shaped during post- World-War-II reconstruction, and a city tha

t was most stricken by the current economic crisis.”

Then it says these contradictions are shaping a particular dynamic in the city, creating conditions in Athens to “expand the links between architecture and the city, both during the economic downturn, but also after it has passed.”

ArchDaily critiqued that “the Greek pavilion aims highlight these positive forces emerging during his crucial present moment in an effort to foreshadow a better future for the city and its architecture.”

Another architectural review from said “’Common Ground’ at the Greek Pavilion not only is successfully expressed, but is the main protagonist as the pavilion’s visitor is invited to take ‘a walk into the city’, a metaphoric parameter that the curators cleverly integrated in its design.”

How familiar are you with a role of architecture in a society? The Roman architect Vitruvius in the early 1st century AD emphasized three aspects of it: Durability, utility and beauty, which means it should remain in good condition, function well and raise people’s spirits.

In this sense, Greek Pavilion in the exhibition delineated well the situation of the city of Athens, and presented the city identity and foreshadowed the new living and urban behavior in Athenian “Common ground.”



How the Greek economic crisis affects the art industry?


When the economy declines, how will it affect arts in the nation? Even though it may seem they do not have a direct relation to each other, economic crisis does influence art industry. Ironically, the influences have split into two ways: death and flourishing. There are two stories that shed light on the influence of Greek’s economic crisis on its art scenes in two different ways.

The Guardian, UK’s online newspaper, said on July 27, “Despite the economic crisis in Greece – or perhaps because of it – the art scene in Athens is flourishing.” It introduced some non-profit, self-organized art collectives, which occupied Athens. Camp (Contemporary Art Meeting Point), for example, produced Back to Athens, “a festival in the city centre where artwork was installed within shops, offices and restaurants.” The story added, “Artists are taking the visible signs of economic downturn and appropriating them for creative ends, with empty shops often becoming home to pop-up exhibitions.”

On the other hand, the Guardian published another article on Aug. 3, introduced Harma Gallery shut down due to the Greek economic crisis. According the story, Elizabeth Louizou, the founder of the gallery without any financial assistance, had struggled to support it by working a second job but the economy and tourism got worse. She could not support the gallery just for a hobby at the age of 26 with a negative balance, so she had to shut down the popular gallery in Athens, which had a great reputation in the area.

One argued that the art is dying and the other conversely spotlighted its prosperity. Both tendencies can take place, but personally I would like to hear the news: the more the economy goes down, the more flourishing the art. Even though people have less spare time and money for art, as Louizou pointed out “Art becomes the last priority” in a bad economy, I hope people get comforts from the art and look for relaxation at times. Rather than a stereotype that art is a luxury good, the art needs to permeate through people’s lives to be regarded as a daily good and operate as outlets of relieving people’s stress in Greece.