Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Tuesday 31st of May 2011

Day program


9.30 Briefing: field work and first educational interaction

10.00 Depart

Damlake of Gadouras

Meeting with two classes (20 + 20 pupils) from last grade in Elementary School of Archangelos

Presentation by Representatives from AEGEK Construction Enterprise of the dam

Despina Mertzanidou (member of environmental group AITHRIA) and Stamatis Moschous

Introduction into Flora and Fauna in the wetlands of Rhodes

Relocate to a natural site beside the lake to discover flora and fauna together with the children. Start of memory work by comparing past and present and by including possible links through literature and performance.

Lunch on site

18.00 – 20.00 Work session

Michalis Chondros: A Damlake and its consequences for the environment

Boudewijn Payens: Making art with people to connect the local with the global – spoke during the evaluation of the day's events having fallen prey to the rain and sudden sturm

21.00 Dinner


Phivos Kollias and Alexandra Zanne          Waiting for bus with materials to be used at dam lake


Morning bus ride

Waking up in the morning is often thought about as drinking an extra cup of coffee or just day dreaming prior to shifting into gear. There are used many metaphors but none describe really the kind of anxiety one can feel when not knowing what lies ahead.  

Phivos Kollias, Alexandra Zanne and Insa Winkler

It was a great gift of the Municipality to provide us with a bus for the daily transport. Not only did it allow the group to stay together - not possible if forced to take different cars - but also we could transport materials which Boudewijn had collected and prepared to be used for the interaction with the two school classes at the dam lake.

View out of the back of the bus

A rugged landscape appeared out of nowhere as the bus entered the terrain of the dam lake. Special roads used by huge trucks indicated already a logistics entailed accessibility as much as any dam is a part of an larger organizational complex.

A view of the dam lake



Meeting with children at dam lake

Children from Archangelos School

Haroula Hadjinicolaou with the children

Haroula Hadjinicolaou has a vast experience working with children. Her straight forward intellect can make children become curious to see what follows next after a first attempt to answer her questions have not satisfied her. It is not easy to satisfy her in any case. That is a characteristic strength of her. She wants quality and reliance in what knowledge is passed on to children.

Children listening
When children listen, then because they appreciate that they are about to learn and to understand something new. Coming out to the dam lake was an opportunity for them to get to know where their drinking water comes from.
It had been pre arranged that the company which constructed the dam and is now operating it would send someone to explain some of the technical details. The woman brought with her a special brochure.

Woman from the company with brochure

In this context it was revealed the pronosis used in terms of population size predicted for Rhodes by the year 2020. This figure is used to justify all kinds of developments in expectation of a demand being there in future. Bank credits are given in accordance with such a figure. That it is a vital element when a dam is build and justified by such a prognosis reflecting expectations in terms of population growth.
Another feature of this specific dam is that it amounts to a special earth mount used to keep in the water. Michaelis Chondros would explain in the evening further this technical aspect.

Anna Arvanitaki, Insa Winkler and Michaelis Chondros

While talk with the children was continuing, the sun was beating down. This prompted the bus driver to position the bus in such a way that everyone could stand in the shade of the bus while listening to the explanations.

Getting into the shade besides the bus

Listening under better conditions

Technical details may bore children, but they are important as a dam is the backbone of any community. This specific dam is not used for generating electricity but to make available drinking water.



Walking over to the waste water chute

A glance to the right of the photo above can indicate how the dam has been constructed. The water needs to be regulated at all times. Otherwise the pressure can be too strong of the mount to stand and then the dam would burst. For this purpose, a chute has to be installed to ensure whenever there is exta water, then the dam lake can be relieved in that way. This is why the children were shown the waste water chute.

The waste water chute - a special feature of any dam lake

The waste water chute underneath the bridge

The waste water chute to be seen from the other side of the bridge


Instructions on the bridge

Listening, listening, listening...



Phivos Kollias at work 

Phivos Kollias recording

How to shout for water when there is no water anywhere in sight?
An imaginary situation but it can become real once out in the desert.
Sounds of the children made into music shapes another destiny ahead in time!

Children with Phivos Kollias

The moment of making these recordings was well chosen. Coming off the bridge underneath the waste water chute went, the children could refresh themselves at the shacks of th
e workers of the dam.


Action with Boudewijn Payens at dam lake: showing reverence to nature

There was a special action planned by Boudewijn Payens, an artist from Amsterdam with special focus on 'social communication'. His idea was to let children construct floats very much like people in India would construct altars to be set afloat over the water. Since he was a mountaineer, he had the idea of suspend over part of the water a rope and then each individual float could be clipped on very much like individual climbers. For this reason stereofoam plates had been brought along to form the base of these floats. Unfortunately the action was never completed. As the children were walking from the bus down to the shoreline of the dam lake where the action was to take place, there were gathering already on the horizon sturm clouds.


Group walking down to the dam lake

It is a puzzle as to why the warning signs in the sky was ignored by the entire group? Farmers would make sure the hay was safely in the barn before the rain would start. Was it a kind of defiance or just a matter of fact reflex to continue as long as the weather does not interfer?


Another view of the landscape

Down at the dam lake


Showing reference to nature and getting nearly drowned in the process

Getting settled

Phivos recording

Michaelis, Haroula, Insa sitting in

With the sturm clouds gathering above, it was not easy to gather the children so that they could hear the view instructions Boudewijn Payens wanted to give at the outset.

Boudewijn Payens giving instructions

There is this interesting link between what happens in nature and how the emotional awareness intensifies towards something real but equally unexpected is about to happen. This is especially the case when the sky unloads all its energies in lightening and thunder along with a sudden ghust of wind coming up before it starts to really rain. While the action did not succeed insofar it was never really started, this other experience with water in the sense of heavy rain had also its valuable lesson. It became an integral part of the overall experiences made throughout this one week on Rhodes.


Landscape before the storm



Boudewijn Payen's poem

While they were all crowded into the cars to wait there till the rain stops, naturally the windows were fogged up. Bouodewijn Payens got the inspiration to start drawing on the window with his hands some figures of speech. When he showed the photographs thereof later on to Katerina Anghelaki Rooke, she acknowledged immediately that he had written his poem on those windows. That perception electrified Boudewijn Payens, and this signature of art after a failed action became the design for the cover of the catalogue 'Imperishable water and the open question of development.'


Evening presentations

Michalis Chondros: A Damlake and its consequences for the environment

He has a very clear mind and can convey complicated thoughts in a straight forward manner so that they make immediately sense. His main concern is the impact upon nature due to the construction of the dam. This kind of
man's intervention is pronounced on the island of Rhodes. Boudewijn Payens picked up especially the point about the socalled 'dead land' which is created by the water level moving up and down in the case of a dam lake. At the time when we visited the dam lake, the dam was filled to the top and socalled waste water was spilled over the specific channel engineers had thought of in such a case. Michalis Chondros did not know of any environmental impact studies as to what alterations happened after the construction of the dam.      


Boudewijn Payens

Evaluation about the interrupted action 

Boudewijn explained that he had wanted the children to make special kinds of floats. He placed a great of emphasis that it had to be something special to show reverence to nature. For the floats he had provided foam boards while the rest of the materials should be collected from the specific location. Materials could be grass, sticks, straws, stones, bark from trees etc.
Such a suggestion reminds of a return to rituals even if organized religion was ruled out in such an artistic concept. It did become later on a point of discussion with especially Katrina Anghelaki Rooke who said any reverence of nature is already a religion. It was not discussed but implied in this remark is what artists can reinvoke unconsciously, if the action is not reflected upon in secular terms.
A much larger issue is how to communicate to children of today the need for environmental protection and special monitoring methodologies, so that the danger of development and its impact upon nature can be minimized, if not avoided altogether?
To this process towards a new kind of literarcy allowing for a closer monitoring of what is happening to nature, there can be added following questions: what can be attributed to man's intervention, what is a natural process?
As to the need to discuss further the relationship between art and religion, there can be asked in the Greek context what rituals of the Orthodox religion in Greece lead to ignoring nature? That question can be reinforced by how people tend to deal with waste with even political authorities unable to stop illegal landfills existing everywhere. All this begins with just throwing rubbish everywhere! More critical it becomes when all this leads to unwarranted forest fires whether now started by a careless flicking away of a cigarette out of the car while driving through a forest area to just waste becoming a chemical bomb in the heat. Often there seems to be no anticipation for all these hot days ahead just as people are surprised when their homes are flooded during the rainy season but then they had forgotten that their houses were build in former river beds. Just because they are dry for most of the year, this does not need to be the case when it rains. Water does seek its own natural path as it existed before man decided to ignore all of this to his own detriment.
What does all of this have to do with the survival of the species and of the human beings? Can a new perception of nature be developed by explaining in terms of a world as perceived by Darwin?
Many more questions prevailed after such a day experience.

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