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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 July 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 JULY 2015 19 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Homelessness does not mean hopelessness Greek Australian artist uses interactive installation to battle stigma ALEXANDRA MANATAKIS It is far more than just Konstantin Dimopoulos' Greek heritage that has led him into a career of philotimo and social empathy; Dimopoulos' 30year devotion to the field of social art is founded upon the fundamental notion that "ideas are more powerful than solid objects". From domestic violence to environmental ecocide and cultural appropriation, Dimopoulos' work has raised crucial awareness for social issues over the past three decades, with his most recent work centred on the visually prevalent yet socially hidden concept of homelessness. Through his collaborative social art installation titled The Purple Rain, Dimopoulos uses technology fused with social will in order to show viewers that homelessness does not mean hopelessness. Through The Purple Rain, he transforms the exterior of four locations across Melbourne: Fehily Contemporary Gallery in Collingwood, St Mary's House of Welcome in Brunswick, the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Fitzroy and the social enterprise STREAT café in Melbourne's CBD. Over ten weeks, the facades of these locations are converted into artistic canvases through Dimopoulos' installation of large circular purple dots, each attributed with a name and an interactive QR code. With the use of smartphones, viewers are able to scan the QR codes in order to interact with firsthand accounts of individuals who have prospered from the adversity of being homeless. There are many reasons behind the artistic and engaging attributes of The Purple Rain. For Dimopoulos, the repetitive saturation of the colour purple speaks of a great dejection within our community. "I used purple because it is a sad colour. Even in Greek churches, purple is used in the icons to represent something sad." The issue of homelessness is a desolate one to the artist because it represents a true "lack of empathy" from one man to another. Furthermore, the technologically interactive nature of the installation aims to personalise the global issue of homelessness by naming the storytellers and taking the viewer through a word for word narrative account. "The idea behind the interaction is that as soon as you know someone's name and their story, the relationship becomes personalised and the whole view one has on the other changes." The repetitive saturation of purple colour is significant to him as it makes visible the unseen and the unheard. As a stigmatised social issue, we commonly forget that human souls are at the centre of the topic and these individuals deserve nothing but respect and equal rights to life. "It is about giving people a chance and selling the idea that homelessness is not what ma people think it is. The stigma is a very small amount." The current state of homelessness in Australia is devastating and one thatt requires critical attention. For Dimopoulos, this basic address can be achieved through "education" as the "key" to awareness. According to Homelessness Australia, one in every 200 Australians is homeless, c ss 0 meaning 105,237 Australians sleep on the streets each night. The largest percentage of homeless people are youths, with 17 per cent of homeless people in Australia being under the age of twelve. These figures are extremely alarming and allude to a ans age f elve. concept that rattles the social construct of our society; just how can such a reality exist in a first world country? Despite public vilification, homelessness occurs at the hand of six different pathways: "mental health, domestic violence, housing crisis, substance use, youth and migration". For migrants just New film for Nikos Kazantzakis Greek director Yannis Smaragdis, known for the films Kavafy, El Greco and God Loves Caviar, has announced his new feature film, Nikos Kazantzakis. The plot revolves around the life of the prolific poet, novelist and travel writer Nikos Kazantzakis. We are invited to follow him on his actual and spiritual journeys to places he loved and which led him to achieve, as he claimed, the abolition of fear and the conquest of a higher freedom. "Through the film we want and we think it will highlight the large and attractive personality of Nikos Kazantzakis and the places he lived, loved and was fascinated by. The great Cretan writer said that what determined his life and work was ‘travelling and dreams’. “This is what we will seek to emerge through the film. His trips to France, Austria, in nine different years. The filming will take place in five different countries, Greece (Crete, Athens, Aegina) France (Paris and Antipolis), Austria (Vienna), Germany (Berlin) and China and is scheduled to begin in April 2016. Casting includes Odysseus Director Yannis Smaragdis Germany and China, and through them his philosophical and metaphysical pursuits, as well as the 'inside', the 'inner journey',” says Smaragdis. Kazantzakis gained international reputation for his works Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ and Christ Recrucified among others. In 1957, he lost the Nobel Prize for Literature to Albert Camus by one vote. Camus later said that Kazantzakis deserved the honour "a hundred times more" than himself. In total, Kazantzakis was nominated Papaspiliopoulos as the New Kazantzakis, Marina Kalogerou as Eleni Kazantzakis, Theodore Atheridis as George Zorbas, Zeta Duka as Melina Mercouri and Stathis Psaltis in the role of a monk. According to the director, artists in general and people of cinema undertake a responsibility to give people courage in difficult times through their work. "In today's Europe, where there are tensions and differences, art must play its role, which is to unite people and give them strength,” says Smaragdis. Artist Konstantin Dimopoulos. PHOTO: MIKE HIPPLE. The Purple Rain installation. The Purple Rain on the building’s front. like our mothers, fathers, e our mothers, fathers, yiayiades and pappoudes, homelessness is resorted to as a result of post traumatic stress and lack of support. It is an unbearable thought that human beings in our very own community are suffering at the hands of destitution and social stigmatisation. The statistics above indicate that clearly our social welfare approach to the issue is not working. Australia is a country where homelessness should not exist, and through the education provided in The Purple Rain, Dimopoulos aims to "put out a red flag" to make the community realise this. Believe it or not, "homelessness is an issue that affects us all. Financially, through taxes, or socially through witness" - we are all touched. And if there is anything that his creative installation shows its viewers, it is that homelessness certainly does not mean hopelessness; prosperity can certainly be spawned from adversity. *For more information about the installation and to find out how you can contribute to addressing the issue of homelessness in Australia, head to www. thepurplerain.net Old Intersections - Make it New III 5th Biennale of Contemporary Art takes place in Thessaloniki For those who find themselves in Greece in the coming months, the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is an unmissable event. Forty-four artists and one collective group from 25 countries all around the world are showcasing their artworks in the main exhibition running until 30 September under the general title 'Old Intersections - Make it New III'. Exhibitions will be hosted by the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the Teloglion Foundation of Art, while art lovers will also be able to attend a variety of events including workshops, a performance festival, Pavel Pepperstein, Europe in Trouble, 2013 . international symposiums, guided tours and specialised educational programs. The main exhibition of the Biennale, entitled 'Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will', will be housed in Pavilion 6 at the Thessaloniki International Exhibition and Congress Centre. It is a collaborative effort inspired by an aphorism of the renowned Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. "The title summarises the circumstance where the old element has died, but the new has not yet been born," explains Katerina Gregos, the exhibition's curator. "This leads us facing the harsh reality, but also represents the all-time human desire of vision for a better world." The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale is funded by the Operational Program Macedonia-Thrace 2007-2013, co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and Greece, and is administered and organised by the State Museum of Contemporary Art.
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