«I do performances because it’s what I know how to do. I don’t distinguish art from life. It’s the truest form of art, as it allows me to be myself. I’m not acting, I’m not playing a role.»

Alexandros Plomaritis

The importance of being real

Text: Evi Kallini | photographs: Alexandros Plomaritis' Archive
Alexandros Plomaritis

The beginning: At the island of Thassos, where young Alexandros had moved to from his birthplace of Argos Orestiko in the province of Kastoria, his father worked as a conservator at the ancient theater and the young boy watched performances during the summertime. «That’s where I got the bug», he says with a smile. At the age of eighteen he moved to Thessaloniki in order to cultivate this “bug”, at the National Theater of Northern Greece. He studied for his entrance examinations under director Thodoris Economides and he passed. Yet, he opted to chase his dreams elsewhere and moved to London in order to study English literature and theater.

The trigger: He was the only foreign student at Queen Mary University, one of the top four universities in Europe at that time, and was more often than not left out from the groups formed by his British classmates. It was then when the director of the London National Theatre suggested he try out for a solo performance, which was to be his first attempt at solo acting. During his second year at school, he transferred to London Metropolitan University and took performance art classes taught by the famous Helen Spackman and her colleague Ernst Fisher.

The establishment: In 2008 he presented his first long-running performance in Glaskow at the National Review of Live Art, the world’s largest performance festival. During the next two years he met some of the leading names in the field, among them Franko B, Manuel Vason and Ron Athey, while he concurrently studied for his Master’s in Fine Arts at Brunel University. His thesis focused on current socio-political issues such as immigration, with his key tools being his body and directly recognizable symbols.

Being yourself
«I do performances because it’s what I know how to do. I don’t distinguish art from life. Through my performances I express my points of view on everything that interests me and concerns me. It’s the truest form of art, as it allows me to be myself. I’m not acting, I’m not playing a role.»

He never rehearses. He works the idea in his mind, or he prepares some sketches. If something goes wrong during the act, he incorporates the “mistake” into the performance. In the year 2009, at the urging of Helen Spackman, he returned to Greece and settled in Thessaloniki. He organized one of the first performance festivals at Block 33, featuring well-known artists from Greece and abroad, such as Franko B, Manuel Vason, Mary Zigouri and Alma Kalma. His work caught the attention of performance art masters, as at that time the performance scene in the city was in its early stages.

Soon an idea was born in his restless mind: to meet the living legend of performance art, the German artist Ulay, a former collaborator of Marina Abramovic. He searched for him through his teachers in London and his Ulay gallery in Amsterdam and eventually found him. The two of them came together, became friends, and Alexandros invited Ulay in 2014 to the 49th Dimitria Festival, in a masterclass he personally crafted on the entirety of his work. He is an emblematic artist who has defined him: “Ulay is the one I always return to. You can’t separate the artist from the real person, his work and lifestyle still influence me. “

The rest is history…
Following the 49th Dimitria in 2014, he held two performances: Descend at the Cyprus International Performance Art Festival in Nicosia and Meta-Zorbas Phase during the Thessaloniki Biennale 4, at the 3rd Thessaloniki Performance Festival.

A landmark year in his career was in 2015, when he participated in the 17th Mediterranean Biennale of Young Artists, held in Milan, with the performance Greek Edibles, causing a sensation by giving the audience pieces of white chocolate.

In 2016 he captured the idea and implemented one of his most important performances entitled Self-Reflectio, presented at the Venice International Performance Art Week III. During the performance he stood on a slowly rotating swivel stand, nude and still as a statue, as audience members placed broken mirror fragments on his body. “It was very intense and moving. The audience became a part of me as their forms were reflected in the mirror fragments they placed on my body. “

Following that, a number of performances followed both in Greece and abroad: Arena (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, 2016), Oikade – To Home Version II (MEK Museum Europaischer Kulturen, Berlin, 2018), High Together (Zina Athanasiadou Gallery, Thessaloniki)