Greek art exhibition in Chicago, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

THE GREEKS – Agamemnon To Alexander The Great, Field Museum Highlights

24 March 2016

The Greeks is co-presented in Chicago by the Field Museum and the National Hellenic Museum (NHM). Contributions from John P. Calamos, Chairman of the Board NHM, and his Foundation made this possible.

By Leah Jeresova in the USA:

An exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great

2 April 2016

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great, at the Field Museum in Chicago, November 25, 2015–April 10, 2016. The exhibition catalog is edited by Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki and Anastasia Balaska. Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and Sports. Athens, Kapon Editions, 2014.

The most comprehensive exhibition of Greek art and artifacts ever to tour outside Greece opened at the Field Museum of Chicago on November 25. This highly recommended show will be on view until April 10. From Chicago, it will move to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. and be on display from May 26 through October 9.

The Greeks were a diverse group of peoples inhabiting mainland Greece and the Greek islands, and, in ancient times, the coast of what is now Turkey. They shared a common language and religion, and many of the same political institutions.

Over the course of the several millennia of their ascendancy, the Greeks passed through a variety of social formations: from early class societies on the basis of the “Neolithic Revolution” in agriculture that began some 10,000 years ago in western Asia to the societies, based to a large degree on slave labor, which provided the material basis for a flowering of Greek culture and politics.

“Classical beauty,” wrote Hegel in his Aesthetics, “with its infinite range of content, material, and form is the gift vouchsafed to the Greek people, and we must honour this people for having produced art in its supreme vitality”.

Greek achievements include Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey; the classical Greek drama of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; the sculpture of Phidias; the foundations of Western philosophy; the political achievement of Athenian democracy; as well as the conquests of Alexander the Great. Hellenic culture had an impact on world history unlike few other civilizations, and to fully understand the development of modern society, it is necessary to study the impressive culture established by the Greeks.

“The Greeks” was organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs in Athens, in cooperation with curators from the four participating museums. It has already toured in Canada to wide acclaim, appearing at the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“The Greeks” comes at a time when harsh austerity measures have been imposed on the Greek people and the tourism industry has suffered. The Greek government has been driven by the ongoing economic crisis to sponsor a blockbuster exhibition it hopes will attract tourists from North America.

Greece today is a country being bled white by the big European banks. Unemployment stands at over 25 percent, pensions have been slashed, the health care system devastated and homelessness and hunger have increased to levels unheard of since the Second World War. …

In 2012 museums laid off of 30-50 percent of their staffs, with further cuts in the years following. Greek police have estimated that since austerity measures began in 2009, the theft of antiquities has increased by 30 percent.

In October last year, the Syriza government raised the price of admission to hundreds of museums and historical sites by between 66 and 150 percent.

The exhibition at the Field Museum brings ancient Greek history to life, through some 500 artifacts in all, loaned from 21 museums throughout the country. The curators have organized the contents chronologically and thematically into a “meet the people” experience encompassing six diverse and lively zones.

The Bronze Age (3500-1050 B.C.) is the star attraction of the first half of the exhibition. Civilization advanced rapidly from its Stone Age beginnings, when bronze—an alloy of copper and tin—became the principal material for making tools and weapons. …

The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures benefited from their positions on important sea and land routes that allowed them to develop extensive trading networks.

Cycladic civilization flourished at the end of the third millennium B.C. Its sculpture is characterized by an abstract treatment of the human form. Marble statuettes with folded arms and oval, flat heads are typical.

The Minoans developed a sophisticated culture on the island of Crete. Precious metals and other materials were abundant (e.g., tin, copper, silver, gold, ivory). A wealthy ruling class supported the arts. Examples of Kemares ware (pottery) are impressive, with dramatic geometric motifs. A goddess figurine with upraised arms and cylindrical skirt has a bird atop her head, symbolizing divinity.

Mycenaean society developed in southern regions of mainland Greece, with the emergence of large towns anchored by great palaces. Mycenae became a powerful government and cultural center, dominated by a military aristocracy.

'Mask of Agamemnon' (Replica) © Archaeological Museum of Mycenae

The “Mask of Agamemnon,” the mythical king of Mycenae—a victor in the Trojan War—is the stunning centerpiece of the exhibition, towering over the other displays. This breathtaking gold funerary mask, 3,000 years old, was discovered in a royal grave by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who exclaimed: “I have gazed upon the eyes of Agamemnon!” However, the burial had taken place three centuries too early to be that of Agamemnon. A replica is presented here.

Mycenaean metalwork is opulent and exotic. Lions and eagles were favorite decorative motifs in this warrior culture, symbols of power and valor. A dagger on view featuring a gold inlaid spiral decoration is a masterpiece of Mycenaean craftsmanship.

The first writing systems were syllabary (a set of written characters representing syllables and serving the purpose of an alphabet) scripts on clay tablets. The visitor should not miss a display of tablets with a script known as “Linear B,” an early version of Greek, developed around 1300 B.C., found in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts on Crete and mainland Greece. “Linear B” was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris, an English linguist, thereby demonstrating that the Mycenaeans were one of the first Greek-speaking cultures. A short film illustrates how pictograms—symbolizing wine, olive oil, armor, animals, men or women—were burned into the wet clay.

With the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, the Greeks lost their writing system and it was not until the Eighth Century B.C. that they borrowed an alphabet from the Phoenicians—another great seafaring people—and adapted it to the Greek language. A prime requirement in choosing an alphabet was its ability to transcribe complex epic poetry from the oral tradition.

Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, epics written in the Eighth century B.C., depict events occurring at the dawn of the turbulent Iron Age, in tribal kingdoms along the periphery of mainland Greece. These epic poems, one of the foundations of Western literature, have a universal theme: the struggles of human beings with nature (which appear in the ancient world as fate) and with each other. Most scholars believe that the tales existed within an oral tradition, some 500 to 700 years before Homer wrote them down.

In the Iliad, Homer tells the story of the Trojan War. A famous scene from the Iliad painted on a clay vase of the late sixth century B.C. depicts the Greek warrior Achilles avenging the death of his close friend Patroclus, who had been killed by Hector—a prince of Troy. Achilles kills Hector in revenge and drags his body along the ground, tied to a chariot.

A chilling reconstruction of a Homeric funeral pyre is on view from Eleutherna in Crete. The warrior hero has been cremated, but his enemy captive has been decapitated, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. These funerary rituals were described in the Iliad.

A helmet made from the tusks of wild boars, of the type worn by Odysseus in the Iliad, is displayed, with an inlay made from hippopotamus ivory.

In the Odyssey Homer tells the story of the return voyage of Odysseus, a leading Greek general, from the Trojan War. Artifacts on display include a clay vase fragment showing the blinding of Polyphemus, a man-eating Cyclops, and a vase painting showing Odysseus enchanted by the music and voices of the seductive Sirens—both referring to episodes in the Odyssey.

A selection of bronze and gold helmets (10 in all) buried with Bottiaean tribal ruler-warriors shows us the face of war in the Archaic period (seventh to sixth century B.C.). The viewer should note the decorative gold mouthpieces, gilded swords, javelins and other weaponry. The Bottiaeans inhabited Central Macedonia.

By the eighth century B.C., the polis (autonomous city-state) had become the basic political unit of Greek civilization. These societies evolved through various forms of government—ruled by aristocracies, oligarchies, tyrannies and, finally, democracies. In the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., Athens was the most powerful polis in Greece. All of these societies had an economic basis in agriculture, especially the cultivation of wheat, wine and olive oil, farmed by a mixture of free peasant and slave labor.

In 480 B.C. at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans under King Leonidas staged a heroic resistance and experienced a bitter defeat at the hands of the Persian Empire, which had attempted to bring the Greek city-states under its sway. Athenian victories over the Persians soon paved the way for Athenian dominance in the Classical Period. A marble statue of Leonidas from the Acropolis of Sparta is prominently displayed.

The Classical Period in Athens represents what archaeologists refer to as an authoritative cultural standard, characterized by developments in philosophy, literature, the arts and sciences and democracy.

Athens was one of the world’s first democracies. Citizens (most free adult men, including both rich and poor) were expected to serve on juries and participate in civic life. A number of small objects used by the courts are displayed, including a pinakion (juror’s identification ticket); ballots (round bronze disks), for acquittal or conviction of the accused; court tokens used for paying juror’s fees; and wage tokens used to pay salaries of citizens who were chosen by lot to serve a public function.

The spirit of civic competition was evident in the inter-city Olympic Games held every four years. The graphic identification of this in the exhibition is a relief in marble, showing an athlete crowning himself from 460 B.C., considered a metaphor for democracy.

A copy of the famous Stele of Democracy (Law Against Tyranny) is on view—a decree from 337/336 B.C., which depicts the figure of Democracy crowning the enthroned Demos (the people).

With the victory of King Philip II over the Athenians in 338 B.C., Greek power shifted north to Macedonia. Philip was a patron of the arts and culture, and the portion of the show treating this period contains several of the most dramatic artifacts in the exhibition.

A marble statuette of Alexander the Great, achieving immortality as the woodland god Pan with horns, from the early Hellenistic Period (the period associated with the Greeks after Alexander’s conquests), is the finest piece of sculpture in the exhibition. Pan is usually depicted as a grotesque creature, part goat. But here, Alexander is the ideal of male beauty.

A spectacular gold enamel myrtle wreath, worn by Queen Meda, wife of Philip II, is described in the catalog as “one of the most remarkable gold objects of the ancient world.” The myrtle plant is associated with the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.

The exhibition concludes with the death of Alexander the Great and the spread of Hellenism throughout Asia Minor, the Near East, Egypt and India. Hellenistic civilization thrived in the third and second centuries B.C., until it was overwhelmed by Roman power.

After its loss of political dominance, Athens remained an important cultural center. Its schools of philosophy attracted students from throughout the Mediterranean region. Finally, the Byzantine (East Roman) Emperor Justinian, deeming the pagan teaching of philosophy too threatening to Christianity, forbade the teaching of philosophy in Athens in 529 A.D.

The ancient Greek myth of Prometheus, the titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, a revolutionary act, was Karl Marx’s favorite. In Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, the father of dramatic tragedy, fire is the key to wisdom, ensuring humanity’s survival and the development of arts and industry. The brilliant craftsmanship and imaginative genius of the artifacts on display at the Field Museum bring out the reality the myth speaks to.

From the introductory film to the closing wall texts, the exhibition comments eloquently on the legacy of “eternal Greece,” which lives on within human culture as a whole.

Greece Demands IMF Explain ‘Disaster’ Remarks In Explosive Leak. A letter from Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras questions whether the country “can trust” the lender: here.

Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald killed, whitewashers lose elections


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Lives Matter Voters Oust Tamir Rice Prosecutor

16 March 2016

Mostly lost in the Democratic and Republican primary contests last night, there were other races that deserve attention. Two of the prosecutors involved in some of the most high-profile cases of police brutality in recent years have lost their primary re-election battles. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of the The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“On Tuesday night, two major Midwestern prosecutors lost their jobs after provoking nationwide rage with their handling of cases in which police officers killed unarmed young black people. In Illinois, the loser was Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez, who waited 13 months to bring charges against the Chicago police officer who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014. In Ohio, it was Cuyahoga County district attorney Tim McGinty, who oversaw grand jury proceedings that led to no charges being filed against the officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Together the two results represent a major victory for the Black Lives Matter movement, whose organizers have now decisively demonstrated their ability to mobilize voters and change the direction of local politics. And while these two races were, technically, only Democratic primaries, the two candidates who won them are expected to take office with minimal or nonexistent opposition after the fall’s general election.”

Read more here.

Last Tuesday, the state’s attorneys in Cleveland and Chicago lost primary races to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination. The two prosecutors, Timothy McGinty of Cuyahoga County, Ohio and Anita Alvarez of Cook County, Illinois, had protected police from criminal charges in high profile killings. Both defeats were the result of widespread anger over police brutality: here.

Chicago, USA anti-racists stop Donald Trump rally


This video from the USA says about itself:

Thousands Shut Down Trump Rally in Chicago

11 March 2016

TRNN speaks to protesters who say they oppose Trump’s racist rhetoric that incites violence like that they witnessed on Friday.

Maria Hernandez, a 25-year-old community organizer, broke out into dance as a Trump campaign staffer announced that the rally had been canceled. “I’ve never been more proud of my city,” Hernandez told CNN. Hernandez, who came out to protest Trump, said the Republican front-runner’s immigration policies, as well as racial divisions in her city, pushed her to show up and protest Trump‘s planned event. “I’m protesting because I’m black and Mexican and I’m not sure where he wants to deport me to, but I deal with racism daily in Chicago and I’ve had enough,” she said: here.

Trump Supporter Who Punched Protester: ‘Next Time, We Might Have To Kill Him’: here.

The series of violent incidents at rallies for billionaire Donald Trump is a warning of the increasingly fascistic character of the Republican front-runner’s campaign: here.

US Elections 2016: Police use pepper spray on protesters outside Donald Trump rally in Kansas City: here.

Marco Rubio and other Republicans paved the way for Donald Trump’s ‘narrative of bitterness and anger’: here.

Chicago police killed Laquan Mcdonald, threatened witnesses


This 10 December 2015 video, recorded in the USA, is called Protests in Chicago over Laquan MacDonald killing.

By George Gallanis in the USA:

Chicago police accused of threatening witnesses of Laquan Mcdonald shooting and falsifying accounts

9 January 2016

Lawyers for the family of Laquan McDonald have accused Chicago police officers of threatening at least three people who witnessed McDonald’s murder by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014. According to the attorneys the witnesses were interrogated for hours and forced to change their accounts from the night of the shooting.

On October 20th, 2014, Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times as he walked away from Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Video of the execution style murder was suppressed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel … for over a year.

In an interview with CNN, attorneys for the McDonald family, Jeffrey Neslund and Michael Robbins, stated that they discovered further evidence of a cover-up by the CPD while reading over witness statements from the night of the shooting released as part of a freedom of information request by [the] family.

“You have a false narrative put out by police, outright lies to cover up an illegal shooting, corroborated by other officers,” Robbins told CNN.

The official witness summaries from the night of the shooting were signed off on and approved by a Chicago police lieutenant on March 15, 2015, nearly five months after the event and nine days after attorneys Neslund and Robbins requested information from the CPD.

The summaries produced by the CPD stated that five people were located in the vicinity of the shooting but none had actually witnessed it. According to the official reports, two witnesses “did not see or hear anything,” While another witness allegedly heard the gunshots and then saw McDonald “lying in the street.” The final two witnesses stated they had seen McDonald being chased by police, but did not witness the shooting.

One only needs to take a cursory glance at the video of the killing of Laquan McDonald to see that this is a complete lie. The video itself shows what is most likely a non-police car on the right side of the frame. The car is seen stopping as police cars assemble on the middle of the street and remains there after the shooting. It is highly unlikely that the driver of the vehicle did not witness anything. Additionally, the street where McDonald was murdered, Pulaski Road, is a major street that routinely has significant traffic. With an assemblage of police cars, lights glaring, stationed in the middle of the street, it is also highly unlikely that there would be no witnesses to the shooting

In fact, Robbins told CNN that a father and his son had witnessed the shooting while driving in their car nearby. The father was told by a uniformed officer “to get out of there immediately, to drive off or be arrested.” Robbins commented, “This is somebody who is an occurrence witness to a fatal shooting. Nobody asked him, ‘What did you see?’”

Meanwhile, three witnesses were brought to a police station by officers where they were interrogated for hours. The witnesses were a truck driver who witnessed the shooting from a Burger King parking lot nearby, and a woman and her friend. All three witnesses were interviewed separately for hours, during which they were intimidated by the police and told to lie about what they had seen.

Speaking on behalf of the truck driver, Robbins said, “He kept describing it and he said the police were visibly angry with him and arguing with him about what happened, saying, ‘That’s not what happened,’” “He’d say, ‘Well, that’s what I saw.’ They said, ‘No, you’re wrong.’” Robbins told CNN that the truck driver told the police that he had to leave to go to work for a 6 am shift, at which point, “The police said, ‘We don’t give a f—- about your truck. Let’s go through this again.’”

“The truck driver says he did tell police, that it was like an execution,” Robbins stated. “What he described was what we saw in the video.”

“We saw these (summaries) by the three witnesses who were interviewed at the station—that police say they didn’t see anything. We said, ‘Where’s the witness statements?’ We were told there were no witness statements,” Robbins concluded.

Neslund stated that the female witness had yelled to Van Dyke as he emptied his clip into Laquan McDonald’s body to “Stop shooting.” According to Neslund, she told the McDonald family, “There’s a reason they kept us there ‘til 4 a.m. One officer said he was going to get me.”

“We saw these (summaries) by the three witnesses who were interviewed at the station—that police say they didn’t see anything. We said, ‘Where’s the witness statements?’ We were told there were no witness statements,” Robbins stated to CNN. “Significantly in our view, of these three witnesses—the truck driver, the woman and her companion—none of them were asked to sign a statement.”

Neslund went on to tell CNN, “It’s not just the officers on the street. It’s a lieutenant, a sergeant and detectives—and the lengths they went to justify what simply was not true.”

On Thursday, a Chicago judge released video of the deadly 2013 shooting of 17-year-old Cedrick Chatman by Chicago police. The video was concealed by the Chicago Police Department for three years, and an investigator was fired for opposing police claims that the killing was justified: here.

Records show “intentional destruction” of dashcams by Chicago cops: here.

REPORT: CHICAGO POLICE HAVE ‘NO REGARD’ FOR MINORITIES “The Chicago Police Department is failing to hold officers accountable and not doing enough to combat a ‘justified’ lack of trust from the community, according to a sweeping report released Wednesday by a task force assembled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.” [WaPo]