Tag Archives: beauty

Happy 2014 !!

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Fresco from Livia’s Villa, now displayed in Museo Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome.

“Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton (The Four Quartets )

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Femmes Algériennes, Stories of history in photos

algerian woman by m garanger

I bumped into these photos of Algerian Women in the 1960’s by Marc Garanger about a year ago and I visit them  regularly online, because frankly I find them striking. The women are just beautiful and the shots are so encapsulating. But there is a story behind them that has given this “Femmes Algériennes 1960” portfolio an even more revealing history.

Marc Garanger served in the French army in the Algerian War, the infamous end of the French colonisation epoch in the 60’s. Garanger opposed the French occupation but he was serving there as a soldier photographer. While there he was asked to take photos of the regional population for their ID’s. Within ten days he took some 2.000 pictures, some of them of women who had never before taken off their veils in front of a stranger. There is much talk about the captured looks of these women, their resistance, their strength and their reservation. That is all interpretation as far as I am concerned.

Garanger soon after fled the army and went to Switzerland to publish these images in the hope that he would tell a striking story about the force and demoralisation exercised by the French occupying army towards the peoples of Algeria. And he was right. His images told a story and the discussion on these images hasn’t seized since, while Marc Garanger has made a celebrated career as a culture documentary photographer.

Femmes Algeriennes by Marc Garanger

I tried to find more information online about these women and their conditions of life, their traditions, their ways in the various cultures that make up Algeria. Most of the articles I have found bound these images with oppression, Islam, the French occupation and feminism. The only things I have found so far simply on their ways of life just mention that they come from either Islamic or Berber Algerian communities. The Berber ones wear face tattoos. These could not be seen in public because they were hidden by their veils. They were certainly beauty signs but they were also meaning carrying symbols. The tradition of face tattoo has died away in today’s Algeria, but there are still old ladies alive who carry them. Most of them do not remember the symbolism and I find that astonishing, because it is in their face. Apparently, the profession of the tattoo artist that used to travel between the tribes to give them these tattoos has died away along with this tradition. The most concrete information and a sort of background I found for this desert tattoo rite was on  Yasmin Bendaas‘s research project (funded by the Pulitzer Center), which she updates regularly.

Traditions die away and memory fades. History is made continually, gets piled and gets done and undone. In this Femmes Algériennes photos I find beauty in women, in photography, in history, in locality, in awkwardness, in the richness of a moment in time.

Marc Garanger is still working on his photography and he has travelled in many locations to record history. Here is a 4min video where he shares his take on his projects.

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'Performers at Sea', sculpture by Yiorgos Mavrdidis. Photo by me. Paros, August 2013

‘Performers at Sea’, sculpture by Yiorgos Mavridis. Photo by me. Paros, August 2013

“So much desire must create a reality.”

                                                                                      James Broughton

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Yes, Yes, Yes

Henri Cartier-Bresso, photo by John Loengard

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photo by John Loengard

“Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a 1971 taped interview, rediscovered in 1991 at the International Center of Photography (New York) archives, Henri Cartier-Bresson talks a bit about his take on his photography. Simple and real. “Yes, yes, yes”, as he says echoing someone else…

cartier-bresson

“Poetry is the essence of everything, and it’s through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict — a spark between two elements. But it’s given very seldom, and you can’t look for it. It’s like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Sunset over Parikia, Paros

“These things have an unreal reality, like mermaids, difficult to hold. They exist, but the uses of language fail, because their substance is thinner and finer than words.”

“Such was life in the age of happiness”

Freya Stark in ‘Ionia: A Quest

(with a sunset over Parikia bay, Paros)

Freya Stark Quotes

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Living Outstandingly

May Day Wreath

For me May Day is a beautiful, extrovert, yet personal celebration.

If we have made it so far, if we have managed to spring anew through the dim winter and the tumultuous coming of spring, then we should celebrate it and accept our rewards of the season’s sheer light, the saturated landscapes or the floating optimism.

This is what we celebrate on May Day. I personally celebrate this and my mom’s birthday, a day which smells of strawberries. But I make a mental note never to miss to ‘dip’ into this happy mood, these memories and the traditional day events because of my grandmother. So I could say that I also celebrate May Day in love for my grandmother.

Some 15 years ago, on May Day, my grandmother had come over to the house so we would go out to pick flowers together and make our wreaths. I had gone out the night before and when I got up late, I was in no mental or physical state to go out searching for flowers. Coordintation and motivation were too demanding skills. My grandmother waited patiently for me to collect myself. Some hours later I asked her to go on her own. Her reply has stayed with me ever since. She said that some days in the calendar year are symbolic, May Day was one of them. She said that missing the symbolism of such days allows for banality to take over our lives. And that is unbearable. So, she insisted in me getting my act together and gift myself with an outstanding day!

My grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s Desease now and she has no clue May Day just passed or that it is a special day. It is to her I keep a promise ever since, that for as long as I have my wits or strength, I will be celebrating the beauty of life, the outstanding beauty of life.

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Alberto Giacometti

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”

Alberto Giacometti

(Thanx Kosta for sharing this quote! I had to post it too..)

Giacometti Quote

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Easter in Corfu: My new site is up’n’running

Easter in Corfu // music in the air My new site about the Corfiot Easter

My new site is up’n’running! It is a site dedicated to the Beauty of the Easter in Corfu and it is titled ‘Easter in Corfu // music in the air’.

Greek Easter is almost here! Coming from Corfu this is a very special time for me. So, since I cannot be in the streets of Corfu this year, listening to its music and smelling the beautiful Spring aromas, I decided to create a digital ‘Homage’ to the Corfiot Easter.

I explain my fascination about the Easter celebration in Corfu at length on the site, so I won’t say much here. But in order to make it clear as to why I felt like sharing the beauty of the Corfiot Easter, I post here my ‘Personal Note‘ originally found on the Easter in Corfu site:

Easter in Corfu is popular and crowded and you might think it’s too much hassle because of that. But I beg to disagree. It is absolutely beautiful, therefore I completely understand the crowds that flock in and I put up with it. People are not crazy for wanting to experience this!

I am Corfiot and I grew up in Corfu. I took part in the Easter processions with my school and the girl guides since I was six up util I was an adult. In my uni years I used to fly back to Corfu just to be part of all this. Having been brought up in a non religious environment, I completely missed the fact that Easter was a religious event, up until the age of 12(!), although, as I said before, I was taking part in the processions. I thought the whole things was a Corfiot way of celebrating Spring and the priests and town churches just tagged along…

That is still more or less my impression of the Corfiot Easter and that is why throughout this site the religious aspect of the celebrations is only mentioned in event or day titles. In other words, through this site you will not find out anything more about Greek Orthodoxy or Christianity for that matter.

As an endnote, let me summarise my intention in sharing my love for the Corfiot Easter with all of you:

Corfiot Easter is an event that makes me feel I have a home that I love. It is a longer than a week festivity that uses all the Corfiot ‘peculiarities’ as essential elements in order for Easter to happen. It needs the coming of Spring in this blossoming island, the European influenced local culture, architecture and love for music. It needs the Greek outward ness, community style of life and pride, to people the whole thing. It needs the ancient rituals to translate into religious festivities. It needs a community which wishes to remember its deceased ones and its past, a community which yearns to celebrate life, a beautiful life ahead of us all.

Daria Koskorou (just days before Corfiot Easter, 2013)

 

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In the Realm of Wonder

Mythology, art or science, all dwell in the realm of wonder…

The Birth of the Milky Way, by Peter Paul Rubens

The Birth of the Milky Way, by Peter Paul Rubens

The term Galaxy is an ancient Greek one.  It comes from the word milk, since the cluster of celestial material is such that colours the night sky with a white stripe, like a milk splash. What a beautiful image that is…. This image inspired so many more images, wordy, musical or visual, ever since…. This is what I love about wonder and curiosity! It gets imagination going to explore both the magic and the reality out there. It helps our growth with the nutritious elements of knowledge and beauty…

Similar to a previous post , where I was talking about the inspirational drive that mythology has put into the arts, here is another great  sample of human creativity par excellence, namely ‘The Birth of the Milky Way“, (ca. 1637), by Peter Paul Rubens. This work of art now belongs to and can be seen at the Prado Museum, Madrid.

But even the etymology of the terms ‘Galaxy’ and ‘Milky Way’ are poetic. Here is what Wikipedia says on the terms’ provenance:

The word galaxy derives from the Greek term for our own galaxy, galaxias (γαλαξίας, “milky one”), or kyklos (“circle”) galaktikos (“milky”)for its appearance as a lighter colored band in the sky. In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera’s breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and then realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away and a jet of her milk sprays the night sky, producing the faint band of light known as the Milky Way.

In the astronomical literature, the capitalized word ‘Galaxy’ is used to refer to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to distinguish it from the billions of other galaxies. The English term Milky Way can be traced back to a story by Chaucer:

“See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë
Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,
For hit is whyt.”
—Geoffrey Chaucer. The House of Fame, c. 1380.

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The Vermeer Project

This post is a reblog from the Aegean Center blog about the  amazing Vermeer project that the amazing Jane Morris Pack is leading at the Aegean Center right now…
… When Curiosity is the exploratory force behind all understanding and advancement, be it in art, the sciences, in life….

 “Sitting in the dark, seeing the painterly vision of light causes nearly all to exclaim at its beauty.”

Jane Morris Pack

The Chronicle

Actual-Projected-Image-(flipped)Actual Projected Image in Camera Obscura (approx. 40×48 cm / 16×19 in)

by Jane Morris Pack

Have you ever painted upside down in the dark?

While visiting Rome this winter I had the opportunity to study several Vermeer paintings in the exhibit at the Quirinale.  They were part of a larger show called “Vermeer and The Golden Age of Dutch Art”  and although there were some other fine pieces in the exhibit, the Vermeers outshone the others. They seem to glow from within and the accuracy of the perceived space is extraordinary. Johannes Vermeer has captured modern interest not only for his dreamy women engaged in mundane tasks but also perhaps due to the mystery surrounding his life.  We know little about his training, his personal life or his methods.  I was intrigued by his use of the camera obscura, which seems to be an accepted fact among art historians…

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