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Iconic Dromeas to fall victim of “cultural exchange” between Athens and Skopje?

The iconic glass sculpture of Dromeas, the Runner, is to fall victim of a so-called cultural exchange between Athens and Skopje. Its creator, sculptor Costas Varotsos denounced that the Greek Culture Ministry plans to send Dromeas to Skopje and receive, instead, one of the many sculptures of Alexander the Great that used to decorate the streets of the capital in North Macedonia.

Varotsos’ denouncement triggered an outrage among the society. The Culture Ministry dismisses Varotsos’ claims, but the artists insists.

In a rare appearance on TV, Varotsos said that Minister Myrsini Zorbas called him on her office on Friday, March 8, and proposed him that Dromeas will be moved to Skopje.

“I told her that Dromeas cannot live Athens, it belongs to the Municipality of Athens, and furthermore I have the copy right and I will never give my permission,” he said.

Moving the landmark sculpture to Skopje will be a “cultural and artistic crime,” he added.

Dromeas has been standing outside the Hilton Hotel in downtown Athens since 1994. The 12-meter high glass sculpture was originally erected at Omonia Square but was re-located out of fear vibrations caused by the underground metro could bring it down.

Costas Varotsos began working on Dromeas in 1988 and finished it in 1994. The sculpture is made of individual pieces of glass stacked atop each other to take the blurred shape of a runner in motion. Thousands of sharp, jagged pieces of glass form the sculpture.

Minister Zorba dismissed Varotsos’ claims saying that she never made such a proposal.

Speaking to state news agency amna, Myrsini Zorba said “there was no proposal for the transfer of Dromeas, it [the claim] is unfounded. Besides, the sculpture belongs to the Municipality of Athens. In the context of a general discussion with major Greek artists, among them also with Mr Varotos, a lot of issues were discussed, but no such proposal.”

She added that “possible exchanges of monuments belong to responsibilities of other ministries.”

Varotsos declares he is “twice flabbergasted.” Once for the proposal and once for the Minister’s denial.

The question remains: why should Varotsos make such denouncement when the minister did not make such a proposal?

“I am not crazy, I didn’t wake up one morning and created the story,” he said.

The argument continues, the Culture Ministry is expected to make an official announcement during the day, it will probably say the same things and deny Varotsos’ allegations.

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