Culture of Balkans backstage

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AN INNOVATIVE IDEA UNITING GREECE WITH ITS NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES

Balkan culture, only a glass... of tsipouro away!

By Antonis PETROGIANNIS

When Manolis Rasoulis and Manos Loizos wrote lyrics and composed music saying “nothing is ever lost, in this lost life of yours”, they knew all too well what they were talking about.

Though our course through life may be a journey to our... eternal Ithaca, this journey is of great importance us all. All the more so, when it is made up of labours of love and a will to create. It is then that drops of happiness are added to the recipe, offering to take us further on the road.

This may sound all too “poetic”, but I honestly have no other way to describe the efforts of two people, Dimitris Petropoulos, an associate professor of the Technological Education Institute of the Peloponnese, among other things, and Giannis Kosyvas, liberal professional and photographer, who decided to join forces and create an online magazine bringing together the peoples of the Balkans (www.cultureofbalkans.com).

“Tharros” newspaper met with them, and here is how this initiative came to be and what the philosophy behind this effort is. Both of them, for different reasons each, had roamed through the Balkan countries. In February 2016, on a rainy day, while chatting over a glass of tsipouro, in the Historic Centre of Kalamata, they came up with the idea of creating a “magazine” that would bring together the people of the Balkan countries between them. The theme of the magazine would be culture.

In the beginning, of course, turning the idea into a reality was not easy. It took a lot of will and work and a little bit... of madness qualities they both possessed to the highest degree. This is how the plan slowly started to develop. They contacted friends and acquaintances, Greeks and of other nationalities, proposing to them to have their ideas, works and anything else related to culture, published in the magazine (free of charge). The only condition was that at least a summary of the notes accompanying the works is written in English.

Visitors of the website will discover extraordinary creations even of artists of Kalamata. Personally, I was impressed by the paintings of Roula Baketea, employee of the Technological Educational Institute of Peloponnese.

Through their cooperation with Balkan artists they came in contact with a cultural association in Tirana, promoting the work of Nikos Kazantzakis, and were introduced to many more pioneering projects.

During our talk, they extended an open call inviting all artists, professional or amateur, to send their suggestions. In fact, we were informed that, from 4 to 6 May, they are organising, at ELITE Hotel, in Kalamata, a photography exhibition on the Balkans, which will then... travel around other, neighbouring countries.

Their effort offers, of course, added value to Kalamata as well and, one might say, it is even... winking at the municipal authority or any other official, in invitation for cooperation and synergies. How difficult would it be, I wonder, to jointly organise, in Kalamata, this summer, a Balkan music festival? This was our request to them, regardless of whether the local authorities would be willing to participate!

 

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