Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Friday, 3rd of June 2011


Day program


9.30 Briefing: Environmental Art

10.00 Depart

Stream of Kontaris

Marsh of Plymmiri or Marsh of Kattavia

Damlake of Apolakkia

Gathering at Environment friendly settlements with local community of South Rhodes and environmental organizations from all over Rhodes

Insa Winkler and Boudewijn Payens: Presentation of environmental art

Nicholas Anastasopoulos: Working with communities for the environment

Katerina Mpalatsouka: Regeneration of the forest after fire

18.00 – 20.00 Work session

Haroula Hadjinicolaou: Preparing the conference - performance

21.00 Dinner


Morning session

Katerina Anghelaki Rooke and Haroula Hadjinicolaou

Landscape near Lindos

The day trip was to the dam lake of Apolakkia, but on the way there two stops were made, one near a hotel complex to see what was left of a river, and the other a church which had been hit by a Tsunami wave.

Hotel complex - example of one sided tourist development

Examples of over development can be found everywhere on the island. Haroula Hadjinicolaou comes from Rhodes. All along while growing up, she has been wondering about this one sided development. She asked herself what could steer this one sided development in another direction? She identified the natural and cultural resources on the island as a source of inspiration.

Consequently she conceived the entire week as an opportunity for the group to get to know a cross section of what is happening on the island in terms of these resources. Naturally such daily excursions can give only first impressions but since coupled with lectures and artistic approaches, she hoped that the inspiration thereof would translate at least into a new approach.

Crucial is to identify places where development no longer conjoins with nature. At this particular spot, a huge hotel complex with countless swimming pools and outdoor entertainment sections was built on the river embankment. It is an odd contradiction that while the pools use up a lot of water - and in 2012 while on Rhodes some villages experienced water shortages - the river was impeded to the point of becoming nearly insignificant in the landscape. Evidence of that can be seen on the photo below insofar only a tiny spot exists where the river enters the sea. The entire delta had vanished and with it the wetland.

To understand this kind of damage inflicted upon the environment, further study of the wetlands is needed. This includes as expressed in the catalogue a need to root in popular culture a positive meaning of wetlands. Till now it was the land infested with dangerous insects, including mosquitoes, and a cause of malaria. Those negative attributes justified an outright attack and obliteration of wetlands. Only now a notion is being conveyed by science and organizations like WWF that wetlands are a positive contributor to the balance in nature.

In view of such a hotel establishment, it demands as well the need to give some answers to this demand for ever greater hotel complexes. This specific one is build as autonomous villages used only by tourists for a limited time, and who do not interact with the local environment surrounding the complex. For they are inclined to stay only within this so-called 'safe' compound. How to deal with this demand is a question what argumentation would alter the conventional answers given by politicians and Ministrial offices involved in granting building permission. Contingent on land use policy, it is never sufficient to rely on this. With most of the rural population gone, the land seems empty and void. Developers come and promise huge amounts of money even though the creation of jobs for locals is minimal compared to what amounts to a self sufficient operation very much like a cruise ship, only that it is autonomously located on the ground. More so hotel complexes like this one bring with them an ever growing expansion of other things. Besides requirements for a new infrastructure, there comes a new type of service industry from super markets to all kinds of retain shops. Altogether demand grows in a certain direction e.g. need for a new airport, better transportation and road system, while reliance on private or bus services all using fossil fuels underlines what difficulties a EU member country like Greece faces when it comes to cutting in carbon emissions.

Huge hotel complex with numerous swimming pools

Iakovos Xenakis and Phivos Kollias on the beach

Sole entry point of the river into the sea

Amphitheatre, play area for children


Church hit by a Tsunami wave in the past

Maria Bakari and Haroula Hadjinicolaou

Boudewijn Payens




                Insa Winkler

Insa Winkler showed devotion to times not to be forgotten when the Tsunami wave struck that church. It left everything in its path helpless. The church shows these traces like scars. These are wounds which shall never heal. It made us think of the Tsunami wave which hit the Japanese coast on 11.March 2011. In the catalogue, it is stated that water, in particular its quantity shapes the landscape and can alter man's activities once that quantity changes. Water can be flowing quietly in a river. It is as Katerina Anghelaki Rooke says in her poem when the flow steps out of the form and the concept thereof no longer conceivable. Man cannot handle this as shown what happens when floods occur or such a huge wave hits the coast as was the case in Japan. The wave could not even be stopped by a ten meter high wall which had been erected along the coast line to protect everything close to the sea. This happens when water becomes such a restless force that it takes over the rest of the land.


Dam lake Apolakkia

Insa Winkler and Phivos Kollias

The local community had prepared a lovely snack for us. Mainly sandwiches but different kinds of salads or rather easy things to eat like carrots.
There were two shacks with one being the kitchen area, the other the meeting hall.
In between and under a roof we found shade.

Sitting in the shade while enjoying the snack


The dam lake is designed to provide the surrounding fields with water for purpose of irrigation. Thus it serves the farming community. The scenery was not unlike what can be experienced at lakes in Canada.

Representative from Dutch Embassy

To the meeting came the representative from the Dutch Embassy which gave financial support to the action in the form of covering the two flight tickets for the artists, Insa Winkler from Germany and Boudewijn Payens from Amsterdam, Holland. Therefore, both of them gave a presentation of their artistic works.

Anna Arvanitaki and Insa Winkler

As President of Poiein kai Prattein, Anna Arvanitaki introduced Insa Winkler. She referred to a recent conference Poiein kai Prattein had just organized together with Cultura 21 in Berlin in May 2011. The topic of that conference was "Can European Capitals of Culture contribute to a culture of sustainability?" with the main thesis of Sacha Kagan from Cultura 21, and to which Insa Winkler belongs as well, being that sustainability is conditional on how 'complexity' is being handled. Too often complexity is reduced due to over simplifications stemming from the need that projects need to be manageable and produce a tangible outcome. Anna Arvanitaki explained how she is learning from Insa Winkler to understand this topic from an artistic angle.

Insa Winkler

In her presentation Insa Winkler showed how her action on Rhodes linked to the plastic bottle is a reflection of her overall concern as to what artificial products are introduced and become alien objects in nature. Her connection to Cultura 21 became concrete when together with Oleg Koefoed they decided upon the 'flower' as a symbol of sustainability. When Haroula Hadjincolaou met her during an artistic presentation by Insa Winkler in Hamburg, it was also about water related issues. As an artist she interacts with her environment constituted both by her body and by the materials not merely surrounding the body, but used as clothing or as protection e.g. a mask when handling chemicals. The artistic creation is interwoven with this bodily movement reminding very much of what Beuys called 'actions' to affect perception.

Boudewijn Payens

Poor Boudewijn Payens! At first, he simply could not get his computer to work. When he did manage, then he showed first of all his work with people affected by the Chernobyl desaster. Together with these people he constructed when visiting them ten years after the nuclear reactor's accident a 'boat', in order to go on an imaginary trip to escape this location. Then, he showed what had left a lasting impression upon him during this action on Rhodes. He had planned to do something with the children at the dam lake, but it had to be broken off suddenly due to a sturm which released a torrent rain along with lightening and thunder. The children ran back to their bus while he together with the others of the group crept into cars. With the heavy rain outside and the moisture inside the car, the windows fogged up very quickly. While waiting for the rain to subside, Boudewijn Payens made a drawing with his fingers on the window. He then documented it by making photos of these drawings. When back in Lindos, he showed these photos to Katerina Anghelaki Rooke and was completely intrigued when she told him that was his 'poem' he had written on the window pane. These drawings with his fingers became the cover of the catalogue.


Fotini Vrettou: WWF and interaction with local communities

Fotini Vrettou from WWF

Fotini Vrettou brought into the discussion the practical dimension of WWF. Not only had this organization provided the action with valuable information about the wetlands on Rhodes, but also Fotini Vrettou herself could enlighten the participants of the workshop on the importance of the deltas acting as wetlands before the river is about to enter the sea. She explained that these deltas act like filters for everything coming downstream with the river. Hence it is possible to gauge what is happening upstreams, including if there has occured acts of pollution. At the WWF she is primarily concerned with cases in need to being evaluated in terms of whether or not these need to be taken up at legal level in order to challenge before it is too late and the damage to the environment has been made. The WWF puts a great emphasis on staying in contact with local communities. For instance, in Greece the organization has local representatives in Crete where they interact on a weekly and even daily basis with the local communities to ensure that the environment stays on top of the agenda.

Nikolas Anastopoulos: Reflection on current situation in Greece June 2011

Before that Nikolas Anastopoulos spoke about his eco festival at Marathon and whom Haroula has praised as being able to work together with local communities.

In the following discussion, some points were taken up which linked directly to the ongoing assemblies taking place on Syntagma Square in Athens. Interestingly enough these daily assemblies stopped June 27/28, that is after two days of violent demonstrations had swept across the square. This demise of non violent protest movement was followed up by arguments from the side of the politicians, including the mayor of Athens Kamenis, who all labelled the tent village which had sprung up as an eye soare for tourists and besides dirty, a threat to health. These arguments are common when it comes to initiate a reactionary policy against bottom-up protest. Jean Pierre Faye in his examination of the Parisian commune pointed out reactionary forces set in once there had been established a 'health police'. The absurd thing was that none could uphold in the media and in public debates the fact that the assembly at Syntagma Square had created a highly sophisticated infrastructure with tents designated for different purposes: translation, first aid, documentation, internet connections etc. Also it is absurd to assume tourists want to see only cultural heritage sites and do not want to get to know what people go through currently.

Hatto Fischer compared this action with what were the much further reaching goals when the Greens started in Germany their political movement. It included the creation of an institution for political education, which is known today as the Heinrich Böll foundation. They also established an Investment Bank which would favor giving loans to companies willing to undertake investments in green energy developments and the like. That meant adopting a political agenda linked to the decision of not wishing merely to enter parliament but to assume governmental responsibilities. All this was missing in the Greek movement which seemed like the extra parliamentary opposition and had adopted Anarchist like ideas by being against government and mediation.


Back in Lindos

Preparing evening dinner: Iakovos Xenakis, Louisa, Katerina Anghelaki Rooke


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