Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 8: Olympic Gate

   This week marks the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics... officially titled the XXII Olympic Winter Games. Held every 4 years (with some exceptions and revisions) since 1924, the Olympics have always symbolized sportsmanship and excellence. The first Olympic games occurred in 776BC on the plains at the base of Mount Olympia in Greece. They continued for twelve centuries until 393 AD when they were banned for being pagan by Emperor Theodosius. Though linked with festivals for the god Zeus.. the games were not really religious; but were to showcase the physical prowess of the competitors and to promote good relations between the cities of Greece. That sense of community through non-violent competition is what marks the Olympics as a sort of gate. The book-of-the-week for week 8 is inspired by this year's Winter Olympics. It is titled Olympic Gate.
front view: gatefold covers, beads, and maps
   The front cover of Olympic Gate is  two gate-fold coverboards which are faced with two sections from a 1957 National Geographic World Map. Tiny glass beads, serving as door knobs, are sewn onto the coverboards. Inside, more sections of the map are used to cover the back wall and the three cut-out gate-shaped panels... The two sides, made of of accordion folded heavyweight black Fabriano paper hold the gate panels in place.

a tunnel book of gates
When the front cover gates are swung open, the 88 nations competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics are revealed as placards glued to three tunnel-book panels

open the gates...

   Looking down, one can clearly see how the panels fit in place and make up the whole book. The circular arches at the top of each panel are like some figure skater's arms reaching to the heavens. As the first Olympic games were centered around religious festivals, but not rites in themselves.. the archways allude to the godliness of striving for excellence.

from above...
   ...Still, these games are held on Earth.. in a place this artist had never heard of until these games.... Sochi, Russia. Sochi is a small resort area between the eastern edge of the Black Sea and the base of the Causasus Mountain Range. Seeing the area around Sochi on an antique 1957 world map puts things in perspective, and brings the heavens to earth.

Sochi is south of Tuapse...
Population in the area of Sochi dates back over 100,000 years to early peoples of Asia Minor migrating north from Colchis (early Georgia.) Ancient Greeks sailed to the area via the Black Sea in the 5th and 6th century BC and found tribes of people including the Maeotae, Cercetae,  and Sindi.  During the reign of the Roman Empire, the Zygii people lived in Smaller Abkhazia under the Kingdom of Pontus, an extension of the Roman Empire. From the 6th to 11th centuries AD, the region was ruled by the kingdoms of Lazica and Abkhazia, who built a dozen churches within the city walls. Ruins of the Loo Temple, a Byzantinesque basilica, built in the 11th century AD, still stands.

Between the 14th and 19th centuries, the area was controlled by the Abkhaz, Ubykh, and Adyghe tribes. In 1864, with the victory of the Russians over the local tribes in the Caucasian Wars, these peoples were deported... primarily to Turkey... at great hardship. As the Russians settled into the Sochi region throughout the late 1800's, agriculture was the primary source of income... with a considerable effort directed to tea plantations. During the 20th century the area was promoted as a dedicated area for hospitals and sanitariums and eventually become known as a resort area... Now, it is famous for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

ruins of the Loo Temple near Sochi, Russia

Like the Loo Temple wall, the Olympic Gate, is a combination of many parts. The countries participating in the games are the building blocks...
all the participating countries

Though the majority of the competing countries are located in Europe and Asia, there are three countries from the continent of Africa... Morocco, Togo, and Zimbabwe. 

There are three countries from the continent of Australia... Australia, New Zealand, and Tonga. 

The 18 Asian countries competing are... China, ROC Taiwan, Hong Kong-China, India, Iran, Japan,  Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Uzbekistan. 

The 15 countries from the Americas are... Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Dominica, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, USA, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (Brit.), Virgin Islands, (US). 

And the 48 countries competing from Europe are... Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rep. of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

All there... country-by-country... making up the Olympic Gate.