Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Monday 30th of May 2011





9.00 Breakfast and making sandwiches for the trip.

9.30 Briefing: Idea of film making by Alexandra Zanne


10.00 Departure was a bit delayed because the bus driver did not want to come to the lower parking spot close to where the Lindos apartments are. From that spot the Acropolis of Lindos looks like a nest perched atop of a rugged mountain.


Long bus drive to Rhodes

En route there is always time to discuss the plans of the day or what first impression everyone has of the entire group. Behind that curiosity is something like anxiety if everything will work out.

Haroula Hadjinicolaou and Anna Arvanitaki

Sites visited on the first day:

Archaeological site: Nymphaea

Streamlet of Butterflies

River Loutanis and The Seven Springs


Return to Lindos

18.00 – 20.00 Evening presentations and discussion

Nikos Kasseris: Documentation of Environmental Issues in Rhodes (postponed)

21.00 Dinner

Haroula Hadijnicolaou, curator and main organiser

Haroula comes from Rhodes. That was a definite advantage to realize the action. Not only in having the apartments for the group to stay at, and this free of charge, but also all the other countless contacts beginning with her parents and cousin, and not ending with her vision to bring about something which will be more than just a simple action. The catalogue is proof of that.


Nymphaea - Ancient Theatre of Rhodes city

Meeting archaeologists Ms. Kollias who will guide the group through the site with Iakovos Xenakis to the left, Haroula Hadjinicolaou listening and Mariolena and Boudewijn Payens at the back.


Archeological evidence in Rhodes

The group discussed with the archaeologists

Several questions:
- how water was treated in Ancient Greece?  what city planning and water management emerged during the Roman times? - how it came to perceive water as source of refreshment and pleasure?

At entrance: Anna Arvanitaki,Phivos Kollias, Alexandra Zanne and Maria Bakari

One interesting aspect emerged out of discussions with Ms. Kollias. She repeatedly stated the value of this cultural heritage is made evident by many other cultures having copied this model. That has to be understood in the Greek context, and especially at a time of acute crisis. The latter has hit home as well in terms of self esteem, or are the Greeks capable of anything? But value given to artefacts of the past, that is not unusual to hear especially when speaking with archaeologists. The real question is why cannot the cultural value of something be recognized on its own terms i.e. without someone else making use of it and only then it has value? The dependency upon outside recognition indicates a weakness of cultural reflections attempting to link the past to the present.

Archaeologist Ms. Kollias explaining The Romans - the aterium

Entrance to the tunnel system and to Arterium

Looking at Arterium

When looking at how the arterium was shaped, the contrast between cave like conditions and light coming in from above reminds of mysticism. The latter can be created by use of light effects mirrored by still or slowly moving water. For example, the statue of Athena in the Parthenon of the Acropolis was situated in a completely dark room with only one hole in the roof to let through sunlight. The light was reflected in the pool of water surrounding the sculpture. The mirrored sun-rays by the water reflected in a playful way on the surface of the statue and as such must have created an aura especially around the face of Athena.

The group at the Arterium

The location of the Arterium has to be imaged as being within an elongated space at the end of which were two cave like halves used for whorship or other purposes. Due to the light-dark contrast any magic like display was possible.

Insa Winkler and the scale of the Arterium setting

The definite center was the pool of water built in a rectangular angle. Unheard are now the conversations which took place back then when fully operating but it must have been a place where coolness made possible to stand the heat during the summer months.

Michaelis Chondros with Insa Winkler in the background
Ministry of Culture: Archaeological services

Second poster to inform visitors

Ms. Kollias pointing out further evidence

Ms. Kollias explaining to Iakavos Xenakis and Anna Arvanitaki

How the archaeological site is being kept, says as well something. It seems everything is done nowadays under severe constraints. Constantly there are financial and infrastructural constraints with a variety of complaints about how the Ministry of Culture is being run. In effect, the link between a centralized Ministry and its various departments may not equip anyone at all levels to deal with modern contradictions. There is the collision between various development needs to make, for instance, the archaeological park available for sightseeing, festivals, tourism etc. while preservation, research and classical studies appear to have less value in a society no longer sure if it has any values left. When visiting the site, it was not kept in a good condition. For instance, the signposts with information had posters which were washed down by rain and showed further signs of weather related deterioration as if upkeep costs too much money. It would well have been everything was renewed during the Olympic year of 2004 and since then nothing new has been added.
Insa Winkler

Departing from Michel Foucault's 'archaeology of knowledge', the knowledge of such a site has still to be given a form so it can exist under modern terms. One possible link would be to city planning and efforts to learn to adapt modern systems to what had been practices in the past when it came to use water 'wisely'.

Haroula Hadjinicolaou beside exit

What can be learned for water management systems of today? Water running through different kinds of stones and soil? Water supplies for cities and human habitats?

Looking from above down into the Arterium

Once above ground, it was impossible to ignore the many antennas. They are due to the location of being atop of a hill overlooking Rhodes. Still, it says something about the intertwine of modern civilization with the ancient world. Something does not work between these two different worlds. There is no easy way to safeguard archaeological sites, never mind uphold something like the natural beauty of a cultural landscape. The abuse has gone already quite far and still continues to date. Altogether modern society is not prepared to take a stand in favor of integrating the human settlement pattern and its system into a natural landscape. Instead nature is destroyed and despite all modernity a kind of ugliness remains.

Guard of archaeological services

Something can be learned from Rhodes. Since ancient times, the island has gone through various systems (Ancient Greece, Roman times, modern times). An important criterion to appraise the overall development whether or not the quality of water can be retained. There are voices saying water has been deteriorating at the beginning of the 21st century and shall face increasing problems in near future. 


Meeting mayor and former director of the Butterfly valley

Michaelis Chondros listening to explanation by mayor and former director

Boudewijns Payens and Alexandra Zanne on the left, Maria Corsini Foka and Insa Winkler on the right

Stamatis Moschous (left) with poster showing Greek Name for butterfly: Petaloutha


Streamlet of Butterflies

Haroula Hadjiniclaou crossing wooden bridge

A marked path had to be used to enter the valley and then it meant a constant climb uphill. At the time we were there the butterflies had not as of yet arrived. Still, many tourists groups were visiting this famous valley.

Tree sculpture with Anna Arvanitaki

Awareness for unique aspects in nature can observe a tree like a sculpture. It underlines that life without water is inconceivable. The butterfly valley is a beautiful example for this. Due to being moist especially during the hot summer months, it is preferred during a certain time period by the butterflies.

Tree trunk sculptured by time

The valley is protected by trees spending shade and letting water run through the valley all the time. It creates a natural cooling system for the entire environment with sunlight coming through the leaves only indirectly. That gives shade while the leaves on the ground ensure the moisture is kept in the ground.

A tree monster

Maria Corsini Foka

Haroula Hadjinicolaou crossing over one of the many wooden bridges found along a path climbing ever higher up and where at the top awaited the monastery for a rest

The importance of water for the butterflies is of crucial importance, for otherwise they could not survive. Here they come during the hot summer months to bread.

Idea: - cooling systems without air conditioning: during the CIED project got to know city villas build by the Arabs in Palermo. They had water running underneath the house standing on four corner towers which were hollow to allow cooling wind stemming from water flowing through the shade of the house to create a natural cooling system. In Ancient Times, a lot of attention was paid to the circulation of air and hence doors and windows needed to acknowledge out of which direction the winds came throughout the year but in particular during the summer months.
– the significance of the level of humidity and the survival of the butterfly - dam lakes have a higher rate of evaporation than the case of water running through protected valleys with trees on the river banks to spend shade and changes in the weather - how can all of this be connected to 'climate change' and 'sustainable development'?

Phivos Kollias

Phivos was tracking sounds and thus he spend most of his time during these daily excurions as far as possible away from the group. He was eager to record natural sounds. Of course, on another day, he would record the voices of the children when they shouted loud and clear. During his presentation it became clear how this is recording is a part of his composition already. In terms of system, the logic is to interfer without inferring. It becomes a delicate balance as to where are still to be heard footprints, so to speak, of man and where does begin the frontier of natural sound and music being composed on its own. It is said that already Platon would advise to follow the galaxies of the stars and to listen to their composition as if outer space produces another sound than what can be heard in cities with motorbikes passing by and someone shouting to the neighbor 'good morning!'

The monastery atop of the Butterfly valley

Insa Winkler, Stamatis Moschous, Iakavos Xenides, Maria Corsini Foka, Michaelis Chondros

Once having climbed up the butterfly valley, a welcome rest was taken atop at the monastery. After these two experiences, first the Arterium and then the butterfly valley, along with the impressions of a varied landscape of Rhodes while driving with the bus along certain roads, there was a need to let sink in these first impressions. Often when people were conversing, you could see their eyes gazing just into the horizon as if themselves becoming birds who would fly just above the tree tops.

Maria Bakari and Anna Arvanitaki with Alexandra Zanne (in foreground)

The monastery had a lovely little kitcher run by three old, very charming ladies. There were offered unusual things for tourists, but good things for those who know the good old traditions of Greece. Naturally making tee took a long time as an old kettle was used. They served yogurts and halva but also a kind of coffee some thought to be really undrinkable. That is naturally a classical complaint. Some preferred the sandwiches offered or took a cold drink but generally the one common thing everyone drank was just cool water.

Maria Corsini Foka and Michaels Chondros

The familiar couple by now: Phivos Kollias and Alexandra Zanne

Group gathering around for last clarification before moving on to river Loutanis.

Anna Arvanitaki with Nikos Kasseris

Nikos Kasseris is a well known photographer who made in one way with his aesthetical photos first Rhodes famous and now he attempts to unravel the entire story of development by showing what damage that causes. His dedication to photography is unique and he helped the entire action by supporting it with his outstanding photographic work.

Nikos Kasseris, photographer

Photographing is like wondering through the lens. The magic outlook of something alters when reminding how this medium came into being, how black and white was updated by adding colour till finally the digital camera replaced the dark room where photos were developed in the past. That entire chemical process in the dark made it obligatory to say the art of a photo was also conditional on the use of paper and the techniques used in the darkroom. That was not like a drawing room but it did require a special kind of trust. For mediation between reality and seeing reality with own eyes apart from what a photo captures meant always attempting to go beyond the mere moment. Still, at risk is to take 200 photos with ease and then no longer recall what belongs to whom if the work is not done immediately afterwards to file them. Without such a system any photographer is nowadays very quickly at a loss. This brings to the fore the importance of keeping an archive but also what titles are given to the photos. Herbert Walden advised Paul Klee when exhibiting his paintings that all of them should have a 'poetic title'.


River Loutanis

Boudewijn Payens

Boudewijn Payens went off immediately to explore the river banks. Others followed him. There was a swift current in the river due to the recent rains.

Anna Arvanitaki looking on as Stamis Moschous and Iakovos Xenakis make their way

Part of the group still on embankment

'The new king ruling over nature: hommage to the plastic bottle' - in memory of 'Lord of the Flies'

Homage to the plastic bottle - Hatto Fischer
The sculpture links to the main criticism of human behavior which treats nature as wastebin. Exemplatory for this is the throwing away of the plastic bottle after use.

Iakovos Xenakis passing by

Down by the river
What is a river? A vein in the landscape? A path created by water finding its way down hill in search of the sea? Is this a replica of the law of gravity with water in search of its equivalent?

The river Loutanis

Nikos Kasseris would account of spots along the river where the women used to wash their clothes. Now that is no more the case. When it does not rain, then this river threatens to dry up and with it all the life depending upon the river, including the Gizanis fish to which Maria Corsini Foka has devoted 22 years of research.

The flow of the river Loutanis end of May 2011

The river showed all the signs of recent flood waters having swept with them all kinds of debris. Most of it was natural material which ended up getting entangled with a tree which happen to stand in the way.

Entanglement or a natural sculpture

Haroula Hadijnicolaou, Anna Arvanitaki, Insa Winkler

Haroula Hadjinicolaou, Maria Bakari, Insa Winkler

River Loutanis further upstream

What happens further upstream, that was a surprise since we were taken to a small dam in the middle of the forest.

The dam construction location was deep in a valley running through the forest

A view down the stairs can give an idea how steep everything was.

Stone steps

Anna Arvanitaki

While making such discoveries, a lot of thoughts go through one's mind. The dam presents a particular intervention by mankind. It was to be a main topic throughout the workshop what are the benefits, what the disadvantages? Still, the present of such a dam shows that Rhodes as an island had water, and thus gave it distinct advantages of other islands without water.

Insa Winkler

Insa Winkler was always ready to perform or to energize the group in different ways. As land artist she had no shyness to come to terms with nature. She had made recently a huge exhibition in a park which allowed people, and especially children to taste different qualities of water by having it run over stones, roots or out of a wooden log to be compared when coming from a tap.


In the area all kinds of vegetations were to be found. A tree stump without the bark a sign of something having stripped this tree of its outer skin. Was that the work of ants or of man who wanted to use the bark for making fire?

Fallen tree

Some trees fall because the sturm caught them at a wrong angle, but to be able to do that something else must have made the roots lose their grip on the soil. If underspoiled by water and anyhow lose earth, that might explain how this came about. In Canada such a natural state of decay is often linked with the beavers having build dams and thereby flood an entire area. It says also something about preservation of forests and wild vegetation. Not always can mankind leave everything as it is. There is the danger of forest fires but also fallen wood can be used as material for furniture or fences, if not for the fire place.


Michaelis Chondros

There was the engineer Michaelis Chondros. He is an expert on harbor installations and thus has the technical know-how needed to understand the construction of a dam. He was the analytical head of the group. In his presentation he showed how crucial is the link between technical considerations and the environmental approach. He did so by emphasizing the importance of something UNESCO does as well when referring to world heritages. For there is the aesthetical component in how a landscape is perceived. This point became ever more relevant to the group visited especially after visiting on Tuesday and Friday dams.


River Loutanis entering the sea

Important was not to see the river Loutanis only upstream, but the bus took us to where the river enters the sea. Before we reached the sea, something important could be noticed.

On the way we passed through former fertile agriculture land which the Italians had created during their reign in the 15th century. Evidence of that was an irrigation system they had constructed. It ran along a road lined by trees on either side. Nowadays these fertile fields were given up to hotels and second homes. It says something about the craziness of a society which believes its future lies in tourism and not in something self sustaining. As this reflects as well an ill conceived EU agricultural policy, one should only keep in mind what China is doing nowadays. Agricultural land is bought up in Africa, and once the food there is harvested, it is taken to Piraeus where it is processed before being shipped back to China. Too often there is only talk about oil and other resources needed by the economy, but food supplies are equally of importance. Rhodes is ill advised to have given up these fertile fields. The one sided dependency upon tourism as source of income is never perceived in terms of the destruction it brings. We were to see some examples while later on Nikos Kasseris in his lecture showed with his rich photography what damage the island of Rhodes has been suffering all around especially due to ill conceived development schemes.

Delta of river near entrance to sea
Man's intervention into nature over time on the island of Rhodes has to be tracked more carefully. This was, as stated, a first excursion, a kind of taking samples, in order to see with what questions the group could come up with. Throughout the week it was clear there was still a lack of competence to integrate all the different viewpoints, to heed the special fields of knowledge whether now in biology, engineering or sociology, but it was a way of moving forward. The group was well aware that the 'question of development' was left open, and to this extent there was not clear what other methodology to be used on how to document best the environmental, social and cultural impact of development. For sure, Haroula Hadjinicolaou insisted her first priority would be an artistic approach to allow for the complexity of all topics to speak first of all their own specific language. There was made no attempt to merge them or to seek such a cultural synthesis otherwise known in the language of Thomas Kuhn as a 'paradigm'. And definitely this challenge was felt by all who participated in this excursion. As we passed the delta some did not know as of yet what WWF explains as the practical use of wetlands acting like a delta. They are the filters of everything the river brings downstream and therefore a good way to read what happens upstream. It includes the reading of what acts of pollution or kinds of damages inflicted upon nature occurred along the river. It simply shows up in the delta close to the opening of the river into the sea.

Delta with hotels on the left and new construction on the right

Construction of new hotels

Hotel under construction

While economic statistic links economic growth to how well the construction industry is doing, this kind of record keeping neglects completed at what high prize encroachment upon natural beaches is being tolerated. Hotel business linked to a kind of tourist driven economy transforms entire landscapes beyond recognition as to how they were originally.

Beach construction (1)

Beach construction (2)

Since everything is plowed over and paved, there is no untouched place left. It destroys nature as space and time for people to experience something outside the usual urban environment they live in all year around. Not always are critics of environmentalists wishing to stop such construction right when they link these activities to income gained. Most of the time these installments are used two to four months a year at the most while for the rest of the time they stand around unused. By the fifth year they are already outdated and even worse affected by weather conditions. Nikos Kasseris showed in his lecture alone the impact of soil and shoreline erosion with entire artificial build up beaches affected negatively within such a time span.

Flow of river through the delta end of May 2011

Entry point of river Loutanis into the sea

The point where salt meets fresh water is crucial for the ecological water balance inland. If the river is not forceful enough to bring fresh water into the sea, salt water enters with well known consequences. Already inhabitants of Rhodes were complaining about the deterioration of the water quality on the island. Often these interventions by hotels and other constructions has not an immediate impact to be noticed by any political authority. But over time, and if everything else is added, the deterioration sets in and the degraded water quality drives in turn inhabitants to drill illegally for their own water sources. It has in turn another negative effect upon the overall underground water resservoir available to an island like Rhodes.

Bus driver explaining things to Anna Arvanitaki and Maria Bakari

It would be a special landscape aspect to preserve entry points of rivers into the sea. We would see many more such spots where the river would be squeezed in-between different hotel compounds and the entry point just a narrow gap in the beach.

Michaelis Chondros and Boudewijn Payens

Documentation: Further examples of encroachment of hotels upon rivers and their deltas How entry points of rivers into the sea have been altered The impact upon nature once rivers have dried upstreams and what happens then downstreams compared to upstreams with the dam lake a special kind of intervention. - other kinds of interventions: a) construction companies extracting pebbles and sand b) wastage dumped into the river bed

Sign forbidding use of soap and shampoo when taking a shower on the beach

Naturally hotels show some environmental consciousness. Near a river but also in general pollutions of all kinds is being produced by mass tourism. It is not merely a question of how to cope. In the group thought was given as well as to what products are being sold to tourists and how a different tourist concept could help alleviatea the pressure being put on the environment not merely during the high season, but all the year around due to having these permanent installments. In Greece, a holiday used to be sleeping underneath the trees and listen to the wind blowing especially through the pine trees. They make a special sound. Then, that simply sleeping under the stars was no longer sufficient. First came some modest rooms but nowadays they have to be airconditioned ones with all the luxury that goes with hotels catering to the high income class. Tourism in a way leaves behind as well with such one sided catering all those who could only afford a well placed vacation in nature. There exists even inequalities when it comes to take a break from work. More strenous are really those places seeking to entertain to make the stay worth the money spend, for otherwise the customer shall go back home highly dissatisfied and never return again.

Tourists forced to take off their shoes to cross the flooded street
Photo taken May 30, 2011
The street goes directly through the river, or rather the delta part. Due to the heavy flood waters from the recent rains, there was this overflow. At least it can be counted as one special experience made. Naturally it says something about the arbitrariness of constructing hotels on either side without having the need to build a bridge. Apparently other things go first.


A special action - a continuity of the homage to the plastic bottle with Insa Winkler

Insa Winkler holding up the plastic bottle to the sign

In the group, Insa Winkler had the idea of collecting plastic bottles wherever she went. She flung over her shoulder a red fishing net she had found down at the beach of Lindos. Instead of fishes she brought back from every trip a net filled with plastic bottles. In this way she was able to provoke in the group to ask repeatedly the question but how was waste being dealt with on the island and especially with regards to the rivers and wetlands on Rhodes.


Returning by bus to Lindos after three major stations made everyone aware this one week is going to be something like an endurance test. Many impressions alone on one day cannot be easily recapitulated. Memories thereof have to be 'extracted' in different ways. The catalogue is one way, the upkeep of a diary on this website another. There moments often forgotten but when looking at the images something is said about how important are the moments in-between to tell the whole story.

Phivos Kollias and Alexandra Zanne

Evening discussion

Haroula Hadijnicolaou

Listening to the various lectures once back in Lindos was like taking another trip, this time a mental one. The inputs were varied as diverse was the group.

Maria Corsini Foka: Stories about the endemic fish Ghizani

Having dedicated 22 years of her life to do research on the endemic fish Ghizani, it was fascintating to listen to her presentation. It is a rare fish which requires environmental protection and monitoring. Like everywhere else, Rhodes faces the danger of over development with advsere impact upon nature. All this is due to man's interventions threatening the survival of this specific species as is biodiversity altogether. 

Maria Corsina Foka

In science there is this dispute about Darwin, now extended by philosophers into a kind of neoliberal thesis to develop a new kind of political aesthetics. The notion of the fittest is complemented by being 'attractive' and this aesthetical term is used to explain anomalities i.e. deviations from the normal rule. It helps also to explain contradictions between belonging together and not. Haroula decided not to invite such a philosopher who would propound such a viewpoint. Instead she wished a much more thought through approach to how human beings together with other species survive on this planet Earth.
When Maria Corsini Foka speaks about this specific type of fish existing only on Rhodes, she makes conscious how water ways are regularly ignored although they are the lifelines for not only this fish, but for all kinds of species and every human being. Remarkable is the capacity of this fish to survive even in often shallow water especially during the dry summer season. For this reason she calls him the lilliputaner whose strength outdistances all the odds working against his survival.
There is the silvery underlining of fishes when they come up to the water surface, that is when sun rays touch the skins of the fishes. In Greece this light effect has a resemblance to the leaves of the olive tree. For like a school of fish they glitter for a moment when the wind strokes through the branches.
What other life exists due to the fish, may be asked? Why the existence of this rare fish on this island? Indeed, the Ghizanis has become the symbol of Rhodes.

Ghizani fish of Rhodes


After dinner work continued

Phivos Kollias and Alexandra Zanne

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