Impressions from the Museum of Islamic Art in Athens

I have to admit I had low expectations from the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art at the Kerameikos / Psirri area. I mostly went there to cover it for the blog and to check out the nice view I had read it had from the top floor terrace. 
Benaki Museum of Islamic Art - Athens, Greece
In short, I was pleasantly surprised and had quite a good time looking at the exhibits together with a most interesting temporary photo exhibition from a Greek / Norwegian archaeological expedition in Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan (archaeologists Alexandros Tsakos and Henriette Hafsaas-Tsakos). It's not really the photos themselves as much as the accompanying texts that provide a rare insight into the lives of the people inhabiting the area around the Nile. The photo exhibit runs till 19 February 2012.

"Gaddafi's egg"at the photo exhibition in the Museum of Islamic Art
The exhibits of the museum are spread out in its four floors. You start from the 1st floor (2nd floor for Americans...) and move upwards in chronological order. The exhibit runs from the 7th century CE to 19th century CE and covers the whole geographical area from Morocco to the Indies. Each floor starts with a large explanatory map, showing the spread of the Islamic world in each era and a short text explaining the major forces of that period.

Pottery items - Museum of Islamic Art, Athens, Greece

Clay pots. The circular items in the middle row are taps to keep dust and  insects from entering the pot

Oil-lamps. No reference made to Alladin!
Ivory chess boards from Egypt, 14th-17th century - Museum of Islamic Art, Athens, Greece

Turkish books from 18th-19th century CE - Museum of Islamic Art, Athens, Greece

Jewelry - Museum of Islamic Art, Athens, Greece

Guns and daggers - Museum of Islamic Art, Athens, Greece.
This must be the flashiest gun I've ever seen!
...So, in a few pictures you can see that there's a little bit of everything for every taste found here and the visit to the museum will be more than worth your visit. Before you leave, don't forget to visit the basement, for a close look at the ancient fortifications of Athens, a segment of which was uncovered right at the building's foundations and is preserved for visitors. As for the terrace with the nice view I mentioned at the start? Well, take a look for yourselves, and hope that you get here on a beautiful, sunny day unlike myself :)

The terrace of the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art at Kerameikos - Athens, Greece

Address: 22 Agion Asomaton St. & 12 Dipylou St., Athens [Thission Metro Station]
Opening Hours: Tue, Thu-Sun: 09:00-15:00. Wed: 09:00-21:00. Also, see here.
Closed on: Mondays and Jan. 1, Jan.6, Clean Monday, Mar.25, Orthodox Easter Sunday & Monday, May 1, Holy Spirit Monday, Aug.1, Oct.28, Dec. 25-26.
Ticket Prices: 7€. Reduced admission 5€ for >65 and adults accompanying children.  Wed: free (optional 1€). Free for disabled persons and an escort, students and <18.
Photography: Non-flash photography is allowed
Public Transit: Buses 025, 026, 027 (Pireos Bus Stop) and 035, 049, 227, 812, 815, 838, 856, 914, A16, B18, Gamma18 and Trolley-bus 21 (Thermopylon Bus Stop / Asomaton Bus Stop). Also, Thissio Metro Station (Line 1) (400m walk) and Keramikos Metro Station (Line 3) (700m walk).
Accessibility: An elevator provides access to each floor. WCs in the basement are large but not equipped with holding bars.

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Photography exhibits at Technopolis - Gazi

The two-month long 11th Athens Photo Festival is coming to an end in a couple of weeks but there's still a great number of events to attend. This past Wednesday I went to the opening of the main exhibitions, at the Technopolis - Gazi former industrial area, in the heart of the Gazi / Kerameikos area.
The exhibitions are a real feast for the eyes (and the mind and soul), featuring many photographers with various styles, Greek and foreign, young, well-known and up-and-coming. The Swedish Embassy in Athens and the Swedish Institute at Athens, as well as the Israeli Embassy, British Council and Goethe Institut are co-sponsoring certain photographers' exhibits from their respective countries.

The ones that mostly caught my fancy were those of German photographer Andreas Meichsner whose organized vacation photographs I found wonderfully ironic (but was that his intention?), Hyun-Jin Kwak's photos of surreally posing Swedish girls, the twisted and out-worldly photographs of Briton's Roger Ballen, Simon Norfolk's antiquated-looking war photographs, as well as the wonderful depictions of Greek folk and country life of  late Greek master Costas Balafas.

I also liked the photographs of young Greek photographers such as John Tsiadis, Leonidas Toumpanos, William Faithful, Alkistis Tsitouri, Michalis Bitsis with his landscapes and Katerina Drakopoulou with her black-background portraits.
Photo by Katerina Drakopoulou, at the Athens Photo Festival 2011

The exhibitions at Technopolis - Gazi (Kerameikos Metro Station) last till 15 November 2011.
Ticket price: 5€, Reduced: 3€.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 17:00-22:00, Sat-Sun: 12:00-22:00

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More on the situation in Greece, in a couple of pictures

I wrote a long post on the current situation in Greece a few months ago, with the goal to provide a view from the ground, and it has proven to be one of the most visited parts of this blog. Not much has changed since last June when I wrote that. Today I have just two pictures for you. One on how things are, and the other on how they could be.

The first one is a copy of my bank account statement and it speaks louder than a thousand words on the tax storm that the Greek government is hitting us with (when I say "us", I mean those of us who have the bad habit of paying our taxes). I will translate it for you:

“...If you are looking for a facilitation on the payment of your taxes, Emporiki Bank provides the solution with a new, specially designed program, with a preferential interest rate, for a 5 year duration. ‘Tax Facilitation Program’ by Emporiki Bank.”!
I'm sure this could make great material for a "Brazil"-like, sci-fi novel but this time it's real (like science-fiction often turns out to be).

The second one comes from my rather distant past, some 2 decades ago, when I was visiting the USA with the AFS student exchange program. Students from all countries were being hosted at the C.W. Post Campus, in New York for a few days of orientation before being sent to our host families around the country. There was a "talent show" set up for our last day at C.W. Post, as well as a poster competition with students from each country invited to submit their original, DIY poster.
We Greeks had set one morning aside to create our simple, no-frills poster. We chose not to fool around for a couple of hours that morning; not to play Frisbee or soccer, not to chit-chat with kids from other countries and just do that poster thing. The evening of the talent-show we learnt that we had won the poster competition as we were the only country (or something close to that) to had even submitted one. We had won simply by taking part! 
Later on, students from each country presented their small shows and, even though all were fun and interesting in their own way, it was only during the Greek show that the audience got off their seats and up to the stage to  dance together with the Greek crew.
C. W. Post Campus - Tilles Center: AFS Talent show, August 4, 1988

If only the Greek government (and the ones that preceded it) were determined and focused enough to simply do the things they have to do, like we did that morning at C.W. Post, the country wouldn't be in the verge of collapse that it's facing today. The majority of Greek people, with all their shortcomings, bad habits and attitudes know how to pull together when needed and, if the rules and objectives of the game are fair and clear to everybody, they are capable of excelling and dealing with adversities just like anyone else.

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