Sunday 21 September 2014

Pledges by Kalliopi Lemos

Pledges by Kalliopi Lemos

This is the second site-specific installation that Kalliopi Lemos has created for the Byzantine Museum in Athens. Both involve boats and both are concerned with the human condition, suffering, displacement and hope. You can see last year's installation here.

The installation is in the courtyard of the museum and is visible from the street.

The boat draws on the tradition of votive offerings which is very strong in Greece. Focusing on the struggle through life in an era of deep economic and social crisis throughout the world, and the plight of people who are forced to leave their countries for all sort of reasons, it's a work imbued with notions of interculturality, social solidarity and empathy.

Tamata, votive offerings, are small metal plaques which are sometimes made of silver or gold, with an embossed image symbolising the subject of the prayer for which the plaque is offered. They are usually offered to an icon or shrine as a reminder of a petitioner's particular need, or in gratitude for a prayer answered. The images vary and can have multiple interpretations: a heart may symbolise a prayer for love or a heart problem; eyes may indicate an eye affliction; hands or legs may indicate maladies of the limbs; a pair of wedding crowns may mean prayer for a happy marriage, and so on. In a country as deeply religious as Greece they have major significance.


Even though the installation draws on this tradition of tamata, Lemos' tamata are different. 10,000 have been used on a now abandoned boat which has been used to transfer immigrants. The tamata are handcrafted from drinks cans and are incised with the names, dates and places of birth of immigrants. 

A statement focusing on the journey as transition from despair to hope, from death to life, the installation expresses the constant human quest for a better life, for hope.



  1. It looks a moving piece. Boats are such potent imagery, and combined with the tamata it becomes even more powerful. Thank you for showing it.

    1. I like her work - the boat installation last year was as moving as this one. Having googled her, I see that her work is varied and would like to see more.