My journey to ‘DIAZOMA’ has been a long one with many ports of call: Kalamata, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of the Interior, Administration and Decentralization, Ministry of the Aegean. On the way I have been involved with the reconstruction of a town destroyed by earthquake, the enhancement of its historical centre, cultural networks, Castrorum Circumnavigatio, a programme on ancient theatres, island policies, Citizen Service Centres… Ports of call en route to a destination of which I am not yet aware, which has not yet taken a specific shape.
Caring for monuments has always been a special part of my life. I cannot look upon them as ruins, as something dead. I see in them living organisms transmitting messages of knowledge, wisdom, aesthetics, harmony, dialogue with the environment and nature, as transmitting messages of life. And I have always disagreed with the classic treatment of monuments, that which treats them as museum pieces, which puts them to one side, on the margins of our era, which is blind to their secret life, which ignores their own adaptability and harmonization with every historical period.
That is why, wherever I have passed, I have tried in every way to include them in the daily life of the place and the people. From the Neoclassical buildings of Kalamata and the restoration of the town’s historical centre to the opening of archaeological sites on summer nights with a full moon, all my actions have been in the same direction, aimed at the same ultimate target and inspired by the same philosophy.
Τhe ancient theatres are unique examples of exceptional architecture. Culminating achievements of ancient Greek civilization. Works of art built to host works of art. Buildings that concentrate in their structure, their parts and their details the originality, the grace, the sagacity, the expression of democracy and of citizens’ participation. In other words, the best of what the Greek spirit offers. Buildings which have been keeping the usefulness and the uniqueness of their form alive and up to date for centuries.
These characteristics led me to combine my ideas on monuments with ancient theatres. I started this particular endeavour five or six years ago. I failed. ‘Wherever you fail go back and wherever you succeed leave’, says Kazantzakis. I paid him heed. A couple of years ago, I returned. It seems that the right moment had come. The time was now ripe for a more dynamic confrontation of the monuments. The time was ripe for certain things to go ahead, because we take their fortunes into our own hands. And we help them to proceed. We take part in their development. The time was now ripe for creating a Movement of Citizens, of a large group of people, which can see beyond the miserly limits of a short-sighted age, which feels the primary right to demand transcendence of the dreary daily routine, by including monuments in our daily life.
At once I found myself surrounded by an enthusiastic and dynamic group of people, which widened in the blink of an eye. All of them, ‘as one long prepared…’ Scholars, intellectuals, artists, people in local government and pro-active citizens embraced ‘DIAZOMA’. Fellow-citizens who have decided that the research, study, protection, enhancement and, wherever feasible, the use of ancient theatres and other venues for spectators and listeners, such as ancient odeia and stadia, are also their concern. And they are resolved to take these monuments’ fortunes into their own hands, to work together dynamically, as helpers of the State and the services responsible, in the major task of including ancient theatres in modern life.
‘DIAZOMA’ has been a reality since 8 July 2008.
It aspires to be a model Association in the way it functions, in the transparency of its economic management, the effectiveness of its actions, the achievement of its goals. Our aim is not to find, nor simply to persuade, but to inspire the big sponsors, to assist the services responsible, to mobilize the Ministry of Culture, to draw more and more of our fellow-citizens along with us in our work.
And it is my hope that ‘DIAZOMA’ will be an Association that expresses a new way of thinking, of dealing with and managing affairs that concern us all. An Association that mobilizes both Citizens and State.