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THE STORY
& the curator Barbara Polla

SHARING PERAMA is in memory of the early years of the construction of Perama, in the sixties, when Barbara Polla and her family spent a winter in this then deprived, working-class area and in tribute to the orthodox Father Georgios Dimitriadis, who took care of all its inhabitants, in particular of the poorest of them, and of the children for whom he had created a shelter where they were served meals, care and love. Georgios Dimitriadis was an exceptional man, a humanist of everyday life, a man with a social vision for both present and future, never tired to help, to give, and to distribute hope.

 

Barbara and her family were generously hosted in Perama by Georgios Dimitriadis, who became one of Barbara’s essential models for humanism, for her values, and thus determining much of her life. He offered them accommodation; in return Barbara and her brother would contribute to meal servings. The rest of the day, the family coexisted with the inhabitants of Perama, while AMI, Barbara’s mother, painted her visions of the shipyards and shipbuilding.

In the spring of '67, shortly after the military coup, Georgios Dimitriadis was imprisoned. Barbara was then abruptly confronted with the reality of politics, social injustice and prison. Since then, freedom has become an essential part of all her social and cultural endeavors.

 

Barbara, wanting to give something back to this place that shaped her, first created the Swiss Association SHARING PERAMA in 2017. The initial efforts concentrated on installing works by Robert Montgomery in the public space of Perama; indeed, Robert Montgomery is one of the few artists today who does, very specifically, “art for the people”, in the public space. The Greek Association MOIRAZOMASTE TO PERAMA became effective in 2019. The two associations then transformed gradually in a collective effort, finding zealous supporters who wish for its flourishing in many different fields of living culture.

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Perama 1960

© Perama, Father Georgios Dimitriadis, beginning of ‘60s.

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Perama 1967

© AMI, shipyards of Perama

oil on canvas, 1967

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Perama 2021

© Marios Fournaris, Perama, 2021

ROBERT MONTGOMERY

The team of SHARING PERAMA chose the Scottish, London-based artist Robert Montgomery to fulfill the artistic project in Perama. He is one of the most known and shown artists working in the public space, with authenticity and respect for the people and the environment.

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The artist ROBERT MONTGOMERY is a poet, sculpting his poems with light (solar energy activated LEDs), so that everybody can see them, even at a distance, by day and by night.

Ηe is one of the most known and shown artists working in the public space, with authenticity and respect for the people. He is a pacifist and as such supports the pacifists and has created a body of work in favour of freedom, ecology, respect, and against imprisonment and the power of overwhelming capitalism. And again, Montgomery always gets inspired by the local situation to create his light poems: in Tasmania, outside the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, his work WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED resonated in everybody’s mind.

Robert Montgomery draws his inspiration from the surroundings and the people to create his light poems.

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He is a poet. But books are not enough for his poems. He wants to write his poems with light (solar energy activated LEDs) and write them on the walls of the cities, on buildings, in public spaces, so that everybody can see them, even at a distance, by day and by night. The cities are his galleries and he is one of the few artists today who does indeed, very specifically, “art for the people”. Wherever he installs his works, he will make sure that they resonate with the past and present of the place. When he was invited to install an exhibition on Tempelhof (the former airport in Berlin now transformed into a park), his poems talked about peace, about Europe, recalled some terrifying war strategies, made us dream of a peaceful future.  Robert Montgomery is a pacifist.

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In Perama, he bases his texts on the history of ancient and modern Greece, democracy and the history of Father Georgios Dimitriadis, on the marine geography of Perama, the islands, the shipyards, naval constructions and traveling (the artist knows about shipyards: Montgomery’s grandfather worked in the shipyards of Glasgow, the cranes in Perama are the same as in Glasgow, and Montgomery also knows about the devastating effects of the closure of the shipyards). Further sources of inspiration include the early times of Perama, the migrations, the current life in the city, and Rebétiko.

One more interesting feature for the artist is that the Greek alphabet is formally different. Montgomery’s pieces are not only poems, they are also sculptures. The artist makes sculptures with words and with light. A sculpture with Greek words is a novel challenge for him. And obviously, the texts have to be in Greek in order to serve the purpose of being art for the people. They will actually be two-sided: Greek – and English. Furthermore, Robert Montgomery’s works are sustainable and may remain outside safe and illuminated for decades.