Friday, July 29, 2011

A Photographic Exhibition Featuring Greek Antiquities and the Guest Bloggers are coming!

If, by chance, you are looking for something to do related to antiquities on a hot Sunday in Athens this summer that does not involve (at least temporarily) walking in the sun you can visit a current special exhibition (until August 21st) at the Benaki Museum (Vas. Sofias Ave. and Koumbari Str.). The exhibition, “James Robertson: Photographs of Graecian Antiquities (1853-1854)” consists of 38 images of the extant ruins taken on a visit to Athens, Attica, Aigina and Corinth by this talented and peripatetic Scottish photographer (Constantinople, Crimean War, Sebastopol and Japan). He used the recently invented wet glass negative technique which required lugging around the chemicals and the equipment in order to create the image on the spot. This new technique provided excellent resolution along with a large format. He captured the state of these monuments in the mid 19th century immediately after the first interventions to clear them from the later encrustations and before archaeological work and restoration efforts produced the monuments we know today. Robertson made an effort to people his photographs with contemporary residents in order to provide scale as well as a silent commentary on the relationship of the past to the present. All in all, the images have the static sterility of the “classical gaze” that characterized pre-modern photography.

The small, low-budget exhibition has bilingual texts and captions as well as a detailed bilingual catalogue (30 Euro). The Benaki Museum’s considered response to the current (and long-lasting) economic crisis is to no longer accept the free entrance passes issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The 5 Euro entrance fee for this special exhibition was, however, generously reduced to 3 Euro when I showed my pass. There is a rumor going around that starting in September the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will no longer honor its own free entrance passes. Users pay, eh!

If you wish to delay slightly venturing out into the hot cruel world, the Benaki’s attractive coffee shop on the spacious veranda opposite the exhibition space would provide refuge and succor.

CIG Guest Bloggers
As the Institute will observe its annual summer closure for the month of August, starting this afternoon the 29th, you may be wondering what will happen in the meantime with our captivating blog. Never fear!!! Through the wonders of blog technology and the tireless efforts of our permit holders, every Friday a guest blog will be posted to showcase their fascinating research this summer. Brendan Burke (Ancient Eleon, Boeotia), Ian Begg (Leukos, Karpathos), Jacques Perreault (Argilos, Central Macedonia) and Margriet Haagsma / Laura Surtees (Kastro Kallithea, Thessaly) will each update you on what they did and what they found. So you, too, can know what they were doing this summer. In addition, this summer’s undergraduate intern from York University, Miglena Todorova, will share her impressions of her three months of work at the Institute and her explorations of Athens and Greece.

Jonathan and I are planning already for varied and stimulating fall and winter/spring programs for the Institute and for the Athens Association of Friends of CIG. We will have some surprises for our loyal supporters as well. So, see you in September……………

Kalo Kalokairi!
David Rupp

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