Halki school’s artful experiment

24grammata.com/ αγγλικά / ελληνισμός


BREAKING a heavy silence of four decades, the Holy Theological School of Halki atop the Hill of Hope on Halki, Princes’ Islands, opened its doors to the public on August 29 on the occasion of an exhibition by 101 Greek artists.
Part of the city of Istanbul’s festivities as the 2010 European Capital of Culture, this artistic highlight which runs through to September 23 raised expectations regarding the reopening of the patriarchate’s foremost institution of religious education.

The school remained open from 1844 through to 1971, when it was closed as a result of a change to Turkish law.
An air of optimism hung over Greek Culture Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos’ opening speech in Halki.
“The most beautiful and hopeful historical moments are those inspiring hopes that something good is due to happen,” Yeroulanos said. “It would be no exaggeration to say that circumstances are maturing towards changes we weren’t expecting up till now, which are bound, however, to make both Greeks and Turks happy in the future.”
All set
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos saw the Halki exhibition as the precursor of the school’s reopening.
“It announces the school’s return to operation and indirectly rings the bell for the beginning of classes,” he said at the show’s inauguration. “…All is set in order to receive students – from the blackboards and desks to the sponges and chalk. Only a signature is yet required.”
That the school has been closed to students for four decades is by no means proof of an institution in decay. Surrounded by a garden of exceptional natural beauty filled with palm trees, bougainvilleas and oleanders, the school occasionally hosts theology and ecology seminars with participants arriving in traditional carriages as cars are not allowed on the Princes’ Islands.
Yet another cultural event, a concert by Evanthia Reboutsika (also behind the score of film director Tasos Boulmeti’s box-office hit A Touch of Spice) is to be held on September 28.
The exhibition, entitled Tracing Istanbul, kicked off with a two-day inauguration beginning on August 28 with the opening of the show’s first instalment at the Sismanogleio Mansion, which is the consulate-general of Greece’s main cultural venue, just off Istanbul’s bustling Taxim Square.
Greek and Turkish officials, representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as artists and members of the art-loving-public attended the festivities.
“If the people who have gathered here want something to happen, this should constitute a message for the Turkish government,” Turkish historian Ilber Ortayli, who is also the head of Istanbul’s prestigious Topkapi Palace Museum, pointed out.
Set to travel to the Athens Municipality’s Technopolis in October, Tracing Istanbul was based on an idea by Anastasia Manou, the director of an eponymous documentary and head of the White Fox company of audiovisual works.
Of different generations and diverse styles, participating artists – including Daphne Angelidou, Irini Iliopoulou, Alexis Veroukas, Afroditi Liti, Mark Hadjipateras, George Hadoulis and Maria Filopoulou – delve into the city’s history, myths and legends in their attempt to capture its colours, smells and sounds.
They do so using a variety of media, from painting and sculpture to photography and conceptual art. Making up “a panorama of Greek art”, according to curator Iris Kritikou, most of the works were created specifically for the exhibition. They bring Istanbul to life through their own mythological references and Byzantine recollections but also scenes of daily life out of the city’s streets, churches, coffee shops and markets.

3 To see the exhibition’s works go to www.tracingistanbul.com

ATHENS NEWS 06/09/2010, page: 28-29