Friday, 5 December 2014

Ilissos Goes East

Ilissos has a view from the Hermitage which McGregor Cannot see

"A decision by the British Museum to lend a sculpture from the [Parthenon] marbles to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg [has] ignited a new round on Friday in one of the world’s most enduring battles over ownership of ancient artifacts" (Steven Erlanger, 'British Museum Lends Elgin Marbles, Disputed Artifact, to Russia, Angering Greece', New York Times Dec. 5, 2014 [Rewritten and published online as 'Greek Statue Travels Again, but Not to Greece'])
 It came at a time when Britain and the West are at odds with Russia over the annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s intervention in eastern Ukraine. The Greek government, which has long demanded the return of the entire collection, called the loan a provocation and “an affront” to Greeks everywhere. “We Greeks are one with our history and civilization, which cannot be broken up, loaned out or given away!” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said. [...]  Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, which is a centerpiece of the hometown of President Vladimir V. Putin, said he was thrilled by the loan, which he called “a very big and important gesture,” and said he hoped his relations with Greek museums would not be damaged.
Of course in celebrating Russia's involvement in "the Enlightenment", The Hermitage apparently never thought of contacting Athens to see what they might loan.I'd be very interested to know what it says on the label.
A spokeswoman for the Hermitage, Larisa Korabelnikova, said, “People need to see things — the rest is politics, not art.” Disputes between Greece and Britain “shouldn’t affect us,” she said.
The dispute between Britain and Greece is not the only issue this is about, and I think many will agree that there is a very strong link between politics and culture. Culture is what a group of people stand for and Britain has taken a position against what is happening on the southeastern borders of the Russian Federation and the British Museum and its Trustees have shown they do not give a hoot.  

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