Egypt Independent: Culture-Main news en Egypt proposes more sites to UNESCO’s heritage list <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Egypt&rsquo;s delegate to the UNESCO, Mohamed sameh Amr, has said that Egypt is going to ask the organization to add further Egyptian sites to its World Heritage List.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty arrived to Paris on Wednesday for a series of UNESCO meetings where he discusses a set of projects commonly carried out with the organization.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amr said the minister&rsquo;s visit came in time as the organization&rsquo;s world heritage commission prepares for its meeting next June, where it is scheduled to discuss a number of world sites, including from Egypt, that can possibly be enlisted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from MENA</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:29:00 +0000 MENA 2446854 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/10/1755/antiquities_minister_mamdouh_al-damaty.jpg Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and US singer Joan Baez get Amnesty's top rights award <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Amnesty International has given its top 2015 human rights award to both Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, a fierce critic of Beijing who has been banned from leaving <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">China</span></a></u> after an 81-day detention in 2011, and US folksinger Joan Baez.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Ambassador of Conscience Award recognizes &quot;those who have shown exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights, through their life and work&quot;, Amnesty said in a statement on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Previous winners include Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, South African former leader Nelson Mandela and Myanmar&#39;s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Through his work Ai Weiwei reminds us that the right of every individual to express their self must be protected, not just for the sake of society, but also for art and humanity,&quot; said Salil Shetty, Amnesty&#39;s Secretary General, in the statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shetty said of Baez: &quot;With her mesmerizing voice and unwavering commitment to peaceful protest and human rights for all, Joan Baez has been a formidable force for good over more than five decades&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The joint award will be presented at a ceremony in Berlin on 21 May, the statement said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But it is almost certain that Ai, 57, will not be able to collect it as he remains under close surveillance and is unable to leave China.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ai&#39;s representative, Darryl Leung, said Ai could not accept interviews as &quot;his situation is still sensitive&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China has expressed its stance on Ai&#39;s case many times. The ministry has previously said he was being investigated by law enforcement authorities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2011, Ai was detained without any charge and held mainly in solitary confinement, sparking an international outcry. A court later upheld a US$2.4 million fine against Ai for tax evasion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The world-renowned artist maintains the charges were trumped up in retaliation for his criticism of the government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ai has been active despite his travel ban. Last September, Ai appropriated Alcatraz, the United States&#39; most famous former prison in San Francisco Bay, as a way to highlight the plight of activists held in detention.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In November 2013, the bearded artist started protesting his travel ban by putting flowers in the basket of a bicycle outside his Beijing studio and home. On Twitter, he said he would do it everyday until he &quot;regains the right to travel freely&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On Tuesday, he tweeted that it had been 480 days.</div> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:29:00 +0000 Reuters 2446763 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/25/501184/artistt.jpg Italy restores Pompeii villa as EU funding deadline looms <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Italy unveiled the restored crown jewel of the ancient city of Pompeii on Friday, showing off a rare success story.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The country raced to shore up the site, which had been marred by such mismanagement and neglect that it risked losing EU funding and its <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">UNESCO</span></a></u> World Heritage site listing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Culture Minister Dario Franceschini cut the ribbon to open the restored Villa of Mysteries, a spectacular estate on the outskirts of Pompeii&rsquo;s city center that features some of the best-preserved frescoes of the site.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Franceschini said that while problems still remain at Pompeii, <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">Italy</span></a></u> was on schedule to meet a <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">European Union</span></a></u> deadline to spend 105 million euros (US$111 million) in EU funds by the end of the year for maintenance and restoration projects.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While only three projects have been completed, 13 are underway and some 65 million euros has been awarded in contracts, officials said. In addition, 85 people have been hired to work on the site and visitor numbers last year were 200,000 more than in 2013.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We know well that the world looks with great attention at everything that happens at Pompeii,&rdquo; Franceschini said as he stood before a fresco of Dionysius and Aphrodite in the villa&rsquo;s main salon. &ldquo;Today, Italy is proud to say to the world that we have turned a page.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Pompeii, a busy commercial city overlooking the Mediterranean, was destroyed in A.D. 79 by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet (six meters) of volcanic ash. But the ash also helped preserve Pompeii&rsquo;s treasures, providing precious information about life in the ancient world.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The first excavations began in the 18th century, but even today only two-thirds of the site&rsquo;s 60 hectares (150 acres) have been uncovered.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>&#39;Profound change&#39;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In recent years, Pompeii has been bedeviled by neglect and mismanagement characteristic of Italy&rsquo;s underdeveloped south, as well as brushes with the corruption that has infected some other important public works in Italy, including its Expo 2015 World&rsquo;s Fair in Milan and the Moses water barrier project in Venice.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hit by heavy rains, some of Pompeii&rsquo;s walls have literally crumbled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 2010 collapse of the Villa of Gladiators, and further collapses at Pompeii the following year, caused such international alarm that the EU stepped forward with funding and Italy created a mini-administration to govern the restoration project and make sure it wasn&rsquo;t infiltrated by the mafia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among other things, the EU project called for the site to be shored up and for a drainage system to be built. But Italy&rsquo;s chronic bureaucratic delays prevented progress and the EU made clear it that Italy would lose the money if it didn&rsquo;t use it by 31 December.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At the same time, UNESCO threatened to take Pompeii off its World Heritage list - a coveted designation that inspires many of the site&rsquo;s more than 2 million visitors each year. A UNESCO inspection in November, however, acknowledged that progress had been made.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Franceschini quoted from the UNESCO report, which said any question about Pompeii&rsquo;s place on the list had been &ldquo;overcome&rdquo; and that there had been a &ldquo;profound change in the behavior&rdquo; of its administration.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Franceschini said Italy was in negotiations with private firms to fund other restoration projects for Pompeii, evidence that private donors are increasingly having an important footprint in caring for Italy&rsquo;s most iconic treasures, which have earned it 50 UNESCO World Heritage listings, more than any other country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shoemaker Tod&rsquo;s is footing the 25 million-euro bill to restore the Colosseum, jeweler Bulgari is cleaning up Rome&rsquo;s Spanish Steps and the government last year passed an initiative to give culture restoration donors a 65 percent tax credit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Private resources can be integrated with public ones, but cannot replace them,&rdquo; Franceschini said. &ldquo;The vastness of our patrimony will always require a huge commitment of public resources.&rdquo;</div> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:19:00 +0000 AP 2446740 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/25/501184/italy_restores_pompeii_villa_as_eu_funding_deadline_looms.jpg Chicago artist marks centennial of Armenian killings with Guernica-size work <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>One hundred years after the mass killing of Armenians, a Chicago artist has created a monumental painting to honor the victims and celebrate a culture that nearly vanished.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman troops became a defining element of Armenian national identity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Seeking to promote awareness of the tragedy and Armenian culture, Chicago-based artist Jackie Kazarian embarked on a painting of enormous scale in an endeavor called Project 1915.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The painting, which Kazarian has titled &quot;Armenia&quot; (Hayastan), will be displayed for the first time in Chicago&#39;s Mana Contemporary gallery from 17 April to 29 May.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The work is a semi-abstract landscape splashed with bold images and text from ancient Armenian maps and church architecture, united by a pattern of needle lace by Kazarian&#39;s Armenian-born grandmother and with colors and symbols from illuminated manuscripts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kazarian, who has Armenian roots, drew on Pablo Picasso&#39;s epic painting Guernica, which depicts the horror of a northern Spanish village&#39;s bombing during Spain&#39;s civil war, for her painting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It is the same size as Guernica at 11.5 feet by 26 feet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;No one would have known what happened in Guernica if it wasn&#39;t for that painting,&quot; Kazarian said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The nature and scale of the killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War One remain highly contentious.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While a number of countries define the massacres as genocide and while <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">Turkey</span></a></u> accepts that many Armenians died in partisan fighting, the Turkish government denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that it was an act of genocide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last year, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan made unprecedented condolences to the grandchildren of Armenians killed at the time, but the legacy remains an obstacle to reviving frozen relations between <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">Turkey</span></a></u> and neighboring Armenia, a small former Soviet territory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Kazarian&#39;s painting, two open hands span the bottom corners, as if holding up the work and an entire culture. It is a gesture Kazarian said she remembered her grandmother often using.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is a very visceral, emotional project. But like any art that references a painful past, it is about remembering, healing and educating ourselves to make a better world,&quot; Kazarian said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After its Chicago exhibition, the painting will be displayed at universities and galleries across the United States and the world.</div> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:03:00 +0000 Reuters 2446737 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/25/501184/artss.jpg