HOPE is in Perama
από την Κέλλυ Σραυροπούλου για την VOGUE
for English scroll down
HOPE is in Perama and in VOGUE
The September issue of Vogue is all about HOPE.
In Greece, it begins in Perama.
Η ΑΡΧΗ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΠΙΔΑΣ.
THE ARTIST ROBERT MONTGOMERY, WHICH COMBINES POETRY WITH CONCEPTUAL ART, PARTICIPATES IN AN ARTISTIC PROJECT LOCATED IN PERAMA AND OUTLINES HOPE AS A LIFE ATTITUDE RATHER THAN A THEORY.
Some call him a punk artist. I do not understand exactly why. I do not think it fits the term punk. Reading about him, I saw that he is one of the most important contemporary artists, with solo exhibitions and presence in some of the most important art events in the world. He formed a political point of view and adopted philosophical views from a very early age, which he incorporated into his art. He did not follow in her footsteps, rejected the usual forms of artistic expression, and devised the combination of language and conceptual art. Specifically, he writes poems which he depicts in paintings and installations, with light, flames, wood, watercolors. He believes that art has a place in the streets mainly and not in museums. I created for him the image of a truly romantic artist and I was born with the desire to meet him. Unfortunately, the interview that followed was not live. But if we consider that the written expression is for him the whole world, I believe that our correspondence led to an honest approach to the portrait of the artist, who in his multifaceted artistic journey has included a project dedicated to our Perama - yes, the district of Piraeus - which is running now and will continue until 2022. For him, the "proud" Perama gives a practical definition of hope. For me, Robert Montgomery leaves a brave imprint of hope, not only in our issue but in the world as a whole. Your art is a combination of artistic and poetic expression. Which of the two forms represents you the most? I want to stand right in the middle of the two, at a point where the visual joins the verbal. Like two different instruments that coexist in a piece of music.
What are the main issues you are dealing with?
Nature, utopia, society, ecology, love, the pain caused by love, memories, light, color.
How would you describe the language you use?
I think it is romantic. It involves pain and hope.
How would you characterize the aesthetics of your works?
Poetry is captured through light and painting.
In terms of your beliefs, how did May '68 and Marxism inspire you?
I fell in love with Guy Debord (French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker) because he was interested in exposing how capitalism becomes painful for all of us and in showing how societies hurt the child within us.
I read that you have been arrested by the police. Can you describe the experience for me?
The truth is that I have been quite lucky and to a large extent I have been allowed to do my job freely and peacefully. I was arrested and interrogated at a time when I was caught posting a poem of mine in a public place in East London. They were perfectly reasonable with me, they made me a recommendation without any further consequences. I was lucky because the policeman showed interest in poetry. We started a literary discussion and after a while, he set me free. But there are many street artists who are not equally lucky. Hundreds of graffiti artists are condemned every year and need our support. Maybe a strong campaign for free expression would help. The art of graffiti is a beauty and a gift for every city.
Why do you consider graffiti such an important art?
Because it captures the subconscious of each city on its walls. You have justified your art form by claiming that people would rather see poems on the streets than soft drink ads. I wonder if you feel alien to the modern world and if you really want to change it in your own way. Now I feel happy in the world. I have a wonderful wife, my children, I feel blessed.
To change or save the world?
I do not think artists can do that. If we are to save the world from ecological disaster, for example, we can only do it all together. Recently people all over the world united to fight against the pandemic. Which showed us how we can deal with a crisis when we are all together and that money is not the most important good. We need to show the same unity to protect our planet. You have said that you love words because they are imbued with a slowness.
How is slowness a virtue?
I believe that poetry has a magical ability to slow down the rhythms of the mind and entice you to meditate. Another phrase that impressed me was this: "The meaning of art is to touch the hearts of strangers, without getting into the trouble of meeting them."
Really, is it a hassle to know a person?
Yes. I'm pretty shy.
Many shy people become artists or writers. You have developed the theory that the people we love become ghosts within us and so we keep them alive. Tell me a little about it.
It is a view I expressed through a work dedicated to the death of artist Sean Watson. He was my best friend from university and is always in my heart.
What role does melancholy play in your work? Is it an important "ingredient"?
I believe that melancholy is a process of the heart. It is the creation of beauty through sadness.
You collaborate with the British magazine Dazed. Tell me a topic you once did about it that was important to you. I have always loved Dazed.
I once met artist Malcolm McLaren and invited him to write an article on his theory that Oscar Wilde invented punk rock music in the '90s. It turned out fantastic. Malcolm knows how to tell stories.
Tell me now about your new project in Greece.
It is called "Sharing Perama" (www.sharingperama.com), it started last February and will be active for the next two years With the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture and with the cooperation of the mayor of Perama we create visual, poetic, theatrical works based and inspiration the area. In December, the director Dimitris Babilis will stage at the Municipal Theater of Perama the first play by Dimitris Dimitriadis entitled The Price of Revolt in the Black Market, which I consider important. I am also collaborating with the artist Mario Fournaris - a native of Perama - on an art exhibition on ecology, which will be presented at the Museum of Perama, which is revived through the project. Also, filmmakers Christos Panagos and Charalambos Margaritis are preparing a film entitled Dreaming Perama. Finally, to say that it is a great honor for me that the award-winning Greek poet Krystalli Glyniadaki translates my poems into Greek, as part of the project. In general, there are remarkable Greek artists with whom I collaborate on this project and I am very happy about it.
How did you get involved in this?
The project was inspired by the very important Swiss curator Barbara Polla. The idea was to honor the clergyman George Demitriadis. Father George, from his post in the parish of Perama, took care of the refugees and the poor in the '60s. He was executed by the fascists in 1967. He is a hero who has not been heard of or glorified. Barbara Polla in her adolescence was a volunteer in his work. Growing up and acquiring an artistic voice, she wanted to honor him, but also with her eyes fixed on the future, she also wanted to make a comment about kindness and hope. He invited me to visit the place and I responded immediately, as I grew up in Glasgow, which is a shipbuilding city, so Perama reminded me of my childhood, I felt a connection. Of course, Perama is more beautiful than Glasgow, because you have the blue sea and this light. It is also built amphitheatrically on the coastline of Attica. It inspired me from the first moment. The first installation of the project, last February, was a phrase at the port gate: "The Beginning of Hope". This issue of Vogue Greece is dedicated to hope and I would like to ask you what hope is for you.
What thoughts and feelings do you have?
I would say that Perama is a good example of what hope is. It is a friendly neighborhood full of pride, created by a group of refugees. People who worked hard and proudly and built their lives from scratch. For me Perama is a truly beautiful place. Those first refugees who settled there give through their lives the very definition of hope, which has in it strength and momentum for new beginnings. You love the cities and the countryside leaves you indifferent.
What is your favorite city?
Definitely London, where I live. But I also love Paris, New York and Istanbul. Where did you spend your summer vacation? We did not have a vacation this year. In August we went to Muenster, where we took part in a literature festival. My wife, Greta Bellamacina, is a great poet and we opened the festival together. She is a poet, but also a model. Was it her spirit or her beauty that fascinated you the most? Greta is very special. Her spirit and beauty are part of the same magic.
Do you ever write together? Do you spend time developing theories and reading poetry? Or do we only see these in the movies?
Yes, often. In fact, the day we met we started writing poetry together and to this day we help each other a lot. We have a common code on words. How did you spend your time at home? Fortunately, my workplace is at home, so I did not stop working. Our children were very happy and it was lucky that we spent so much time together.
You have the same name as the famous American actor of the '30s and when someone Googles your name, two people appear at the same time. Have you noticed it?
Yes! Only the real name of the actor was not Robert Montgomery, but Henry Montgomery Jr! The only real Robert Montgomery was my grandfather. Who, as I mention him, was a miner and worked very hard in the mines of Scotland to ensure a better life for his children. In my eyes, he is a hero.