European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Link to Aarhus / Mission / Opening


As of Monday, 1.1.2017 Paphos, along with Aarhus 2017, became the European Capitals of Culture for 2017.


Link Aarhus and Paphos: North-South


The link between Aarhus and Paphos has a special attraction for Europe. There needs to be bridged not only the difference between East and West with Cyprus deeply aware what is happening in Turkey and which has affected the life of the island ever since it was divided in 1974. For there is also the difference between North and South. That is expressed by a poem of Heinrich Heine in which he expresses something very common. While someone may dream life to be but much better up in the Skandinavian countries, the opposite may also be true about someone dreaming in Denmark about life in the South. Always it seems life is much better elsewhere when then these projections have to confront quite another reality once living and working there, that is not only visited as a tourist who stays a few days and then returns back home.


                   A pine tree stands lonely

                                                               A pine tree stands lonely
                                                               in the north on a bare hill. 
                                                               He dozes, covered with a white blanket
                                                               of ice and snow.
                                                               He dreams of a palm tree,
                                                               which far away in the East, 
                                                               lonely and silent mourns
                                                               on a burning cliff.
                                                                                                                                 Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

                                                                                                Translation Germain Droogenbroodt
Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam //Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam / Im Norden auf kahler Höh'. / Ihn schläfert; mit weißer Decke / Umhüllen ihn Eis und Schnee. 
Er träumt von einer Palme, Die, fern im Morgenland, / Einsam und schweigend trauert / Auf brennender Felsenwand.
HEINRICH HEINE (Γερμανία,1797-1856)
Ένα πεύκο στέκεται μονάχο
στα βόρεια ενός γυμνού λόφου.
Λαγοκοιμάται, σκεπασμένο με άσπρη κουβέρτα
από πάγο και χιόνι.
Ονειρεύεται ένα φοινικόδεντρο,
το οποίο, μακριά στην Ανατολή,
μονάχο και σιωπηλό θρηνεί
πάνω σε φλεγόμενο γκρεμό.
POINT Editions, Βέλγιο. Ιδρυτής:Germain Droogenbroodt, ποιητής, μεταφραστής ποίησης.
Μετάφραση στην Αγγλική: Germain Droogenbroodt
Μετάφραση στην Ελληνική: Πηνελόπη Ντουντουλάκη



Since 'Linking Continents, Bridging Cultures’ is the aim, it becomes important that the European Commission acknowledges that and not only refers to quite another link, namely that Paphos will be “the first Cypriot city to host a European Capital of Culture (which) embraces its experiences of multiculturalism and its geographical proximity to the Middle East and North Africa, (so as) to strengthen relations between countries and cultures.” For as Nicole Immler attests, no ECoC has so far allowed itself to be considered a border city, or one which is located at the periphery of Europe.

Marseille 2013 had a similar vision, namely to build a cultural bridge between Europe and the Arab world or to a larger extent to the entire Mediterranean region, but it was never realised fully. Although of importance, and Cyprus is so close to Alexandria and a whole history of human set-backs but also achievements, that linking continents and bridging cultures would be a full cultural programme by itself. However, the neglect to overcome the difference between the Mediterranean and Northern cultures is a gap in Europe which ought to be bridged. Alone the Water Directive of 2000 shows it was written by experts who do not know anything of the Mediterranean landscape and nature. That is just one example with far reaching implications. Hence it will be interesting to see what Paphos will achieve in dialogue with Aarhus, in order to overcome the overdominance of Northern EU members, generally speaking.




Pafos 2017’s mission “is to send the message to all European countries and in the Middle East, which in recent years is suffering from wars, conflicts and a serious humanitarian crisis, that the values of humanism and culture should prevail,” Mayor Phedonos said.

Admittedly that is a huge task, given the loss of humanism in a world full of war, conflicts and vicious attacks too quickly labelled as signs of terrorism. Rather a crime against humanity is what makes so many innocent people lose their lives or bleed.

The question to be answered throughout 2017 is if Cyprus finds ways to promote peace and humanism through culture. Even in simple terms, humanism as search for values has been largely dismissed. For instance, discussions in Germany about how to treat foreigners coming in conflict about the law show that expectations should not longer be placed on the goodness of mankind.

What kind of messages shall be send, that depends on what can people convince to try this peaceful way rather than resorting to violence to get their way.

A mission can be communicated by mouth to mouth and by many other means, including what participants and audiences say after they have experienced cultural events. Naturally the key question remains how to inspire to reflect what Humanism stands for especially in a time when this link of the Enlightenment back to Ancient Greece is being dismissed by new tendencies wishing to manifest themselves without taking any recourse to culture. It was the thesis of Louis Baeck that the Mediterranean orientation means a link between culture and economy, whereas the Atlantic tradition puts culture aside and places sole emphasis upon the economy. That seems to be the current problem of a course adopted by not only Neo Liberals but also by those who challenge that position especially if they come from the extreme Right.

Consequently the question of culture needs to be posed in such terms that everyone can understand it is not about instrumentalizing culture for the purpose of the economy, and may this be done in the form of promoting tourism by making a place more attractive, culturally speaking, but to give culture an own voice.

Here needs to be reminded what Michael D. Higgins said in 2000 not only about freedom of expressions but what is needed in times when everyone is a part of the diaspora, and not only the refugees:


"We are in exile from a moral sensibility, from an untrannelled cognitive aesthetic, from even a memory of homo ludens. Slaves of an international economy, we mourn in exile from our spiritual home, for a reflective life. For us space is changing in such a way that territories have no meaning. We live, we are told, in diasporic public spheres. Our need for a moral philosophical framework is then all the greater so that we might actively communicate. Useful in the short term to the knowledge economy we are losing the elements of a creative society." 

  • Michael D. Higgins, May 5 - 6, 2000


In brief, moral sensibility is needed and therefore a reflection of what constitutes a cognitive aesthetic now that John Berger, author of 'Ways of seeing', has died at the beginning of 2017, and therefore is required another voice to sustain this discussion about our ways of perceiving and understanding things. Too many short-cuts are made as if an image suffices to know what is happening in reality. The dialogue is replaced by assertive statements not tolerant to other opinions. Also it requires the work of memory which requires a moral philosophy to give the proper framework for a good communication between all. Michael D. Higgins implies this is also about verifying what knowledge we have about the world we live in and what we need to share in order to survive collectively. As such climate change is something which knows no borders and yet affects all territorities. Hence a world without culture would be lacking that human sensibility reflected best in knowing how to take care of both nature and human beings so as to create an environment in which creative ideas can be generated as a potential for the future.



The cultural programme will officially begin on January 21 in Aarhus, while the opening ceremony for Pafos 2017 will take place on January 28 and will be attended by EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, and President Nicos Anastasiades.

 “The title of European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity to bring communities together through culture and to foster strong local, European and international partnerships for the future. I wish Aarhus and Paphos every success for the coming year.”

EU Commissioner for Culture and Education: Tibor Navracsics


Information about the opening published by Cyprus Mail


The opening ceremony for Pafos 2017, which is inspired by one of the themes for the year’s cultural programme ‘Myth and Religion’, was designed by a team of Cypriot artists in cooperation with the group Walk the Plank. It aims to illustrate the history, multiculturalism and contemporary culture of Paphos as an integral part of the broader European civilisation.


The story of Pygmalion and Galatea is the inspiration for the opening ceremony. “New life will be given to the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea and other narratives from the history of Pafos in a unique spectacle of music and dance,” the commission said... Pygmalion was a mythical king of Cyprus and a sculptor. He carved an exquisite statue, Galatea, with whom he fell in love and when he kissed her she came to life. According to the legend, they had a child after their union was blessed by Aphrodite. They named the child Paphos, and the city where the mythical couple is said to have lived is named after the couple’s offspring.

Hundreds of professionals from around the island, organised groups, volunteers, students and young children will take part. As part of the programme, Greek Cypriot and Turkish musicians and singers will join in as well as a jazz orchestra from Aarhus.

The opening ceremony will also include a spectacle of lights and sound, while Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti and other artists will have a central role in the ceremony.

During the opening weekend on January28-29, the city will be converted into an Open Air Factory with numerous shows and artistic performances.

It added that Paphos is set to become an immense open stage “where a tradition of thousands of years of cultural life in open spaces meets contemporary ways of creating, thinking and living”.



Paphos takes on the mantle of European culture capital

January 2nd, 2017 Evie Andreou Cyprus


Myth tends to be a most elusive subject. It is a part of a reconstruction of the past while assuming the narrative still holds in the present. Naturally countless operas and other art works have used this theme and recreated the story. Yet one wonders what the organisation 'Walk the Plank' implies with such a name? Pirates would let the one condemned to death walk the plank. But this association is far from the mythical material to be dealt with: an artist falling in love with his own creation. It means that he made the sculpture so life like that appearance and reality converge and become one and the same subject. If that provides a key for a possible re-creation of the myth of Europe, so be it. Definitely Paphos has here a theme to work on. More of that can be expected to unfold during the opening ceremony and subsequent cultural events. Already two sculptures along the port seem to attract a lot of attention, so this likeness of something being despite out of stone having a lively appearance is not altogether far removed from a reality to be lived when art becomes present and visible in everyday life.

Hatto Fischer



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