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Olympic Alternatives

Olympic Alternatives
September 8, 2000

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Rudy: "As I'm sure you know, Australians... and the world, are gearing up for this year's Summer Olympic games, starting September 15th, in Sydney. Now, tickets to the games haven't been selling as well as event organizers anticipated, which means there are lots of last minute deals, lots of tickets still available for some of the hottest events. But what many people don't know is there's a lot more to the Olympics than sporting events. Here to tell us more is Michelle Kholos with this week's Culture Watch. Hello Michelle."

Michelle: "Hi Rudy."

Rudy: "The Olympics have a cultural half too, doesn't it?"

Michelle: "Yeah, but it's always been the red-headed step child of sports. See, when the modern Olympic Games re-emerged, organizers dreamed of a massive event that united the body and the mind. Since the '80s, Olympic Arts Festivals have opened right alongside the main event."

Rudy: "So the art is supposed to be as major as the competitions?"

Michelle: "Well, supposed to be. Unfortunately, no one's quite gotten the mix right. I mean, we all remember Jesse Owens, Jackie Joyner-Kersey..."

Rudy: "Mary Lou Retton, Greg Louganis..."

Michelle: "But can you tell me the theme of the Atlanta Arts Festival?"

Rudy: "Hmmm, good point. But, 'This year will be different', right?"

Michelle: "That remains to be seen. What is true is the folks Down Under have a great line-up of music and arts. There'll be opera, choral concerts, the Dead Sea Scrolls make their first Australian appearance..."

Rudy: "It sounds interesting but, if you'll excuse me for saying so, also fairly typical. Anything that'll make this Olympic Arts Festival stand out?"

Michelle: "Well, the theme this year is the 'Harbour of Life'. And organizers are putting a special emphasis on art from around Australia and Oceania. One of the more interesting exhibits is a series of installations called the 'Shrines for the New Millennium'."

Rudy: "Shrines? This is religious art?"

Michelle: "No, not religious per se. All five shrines are called 'remembrances'. Australia's entry for example, is the 'Shrine for the unknown Koori'. The artists have constructed a huge, wooden platform and piled it high with literally tons of animal bones. The intent is to honor the tens of thousands of Australian aborigines whose bodies were once exhumed and exported for so-called scientific studies. Another shrine, by a New Caledonian artist, is a simple scene from native island life. It shows how holding on to traditional culture can be a rebellious act."

Rudy: "That does sound interesting. When does the festival start? Same time as the Olympics?"

Michelle: "It actually started back in July, and some of the events, especially the larger exhibits, continue until the end of the year."

Rudy: "So if you can't make the Olympics?"

Michelle: "You can still catch some of the art. And that's this week's Culture Watch."


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