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Voyage en Tunisie


le don d’amour




Irini Athanassakis


In 1914 Paul Klee and August Macke travelled to Tunesia and as many of their contemporaries and admired the light, the nature and the oriental culture of this country in North Africa between Libya and Algeria. They may have invented or at least contributed to the invention of abstraction in the modern arts, inspired by the bright colours and cubic architecture, the abstract carpet and tile decorations.

Tunesia’s history is reporting many extraordinary events at the crossroads of the North and the South and the East and West. Carthago is still on everybodies mind with Hannibal’s elephants crossing the Alps an threatening the ruling Romans. Carthago, an extraordinary civilization, has been destroyed, the Roman fell. Berbers and Arabs and Jews and Italians and Greeks and French co-habited in a more or less peaceful manner and left their traces in this small country. Today Carthago is an elegant suburb of Tunis with white cubic villas and luxurious gardens built on the antique ruins; it’s military harbour, once the best oft he Mediterranean, has become a romantic fisherman’s retreat; Carthage is also the name of the Airport of Tunis.

Today, years after the Arab Spring and the Tunesian Jasmine Revolution, the country seems to linger in uncertainty. What is going to happen? Who is going to prevail: modernists or traditionalists, religious claims or democratic ones or even military ones?

Little has been left of the dream of the Orient, that used to prevail in European or Western minds. With wars and refugees flooding into Europe, fear and even hate are growing. Instead of trying to understand the Other, imags of violence fuel uncertainty.

Travelling in Tunesia is telling quite a different story. A story of a country between the fronts, between western consumerism and ancient autarcy, between the past and the future, with it´s material culture and habits. Nobody knows what is going to happen.

It has always been Tunesian’s youth to find a way to carry on...