Vlad Savich: Hello, dear readers. Today you see my new interview with Konstantinos Papacharalampos. My first question is for my interlocutor. Konstantinos Papacharalampos, who are you?
Konstantinos Papacharalampos: I am a neo-futurist, of my own kind, a surveyor of words, sounds, scents, shapes, colors. I believe in a version of the future where technological advances go in hand with high respect for the environment. I am someone who believes human rights are helped to advance and expand beyond what we can imagine, through the help of technology – and that version of the future would see human rights thriving. I work in poetry, performance, installation and regeneration, based in London. I explore such neo-futurist ideas and their many challenges through my work.
VS: “I am a neo-futurist”… What kind of literature we would have, let’s say, in twenty years?
KP: Future is in limbo, to quote a phrase from my most recent poetry book, ‘Exchange: a neo-futurist idiom mapping‘ (Hesterglock Press). It’s absolutely difficult to predict but I suspect a literature more influenced by AI, smartphones and microchips, fluid identities, new, unthinkable words, higher multilingualism in the same text and more hybrid works. I also suspect a literature that responds more and more to increased, or defeated, populism, economic imbalances and environmental and resources management. One thing I would find difficult for it to change, in life and so in literature: the ups and downs of the human condition, no matter how much evolved we manage to become in the journey.
VS: Writing started with quill pens and then moved on to metal dip pens, eventually evolving to the typewriter and lastly the computer. The question is what tool/s will be used to write in further on in the future?
KP: I believe the need of the writing activity will not change in the future, however the ways of writing will likely diversify more and more. Writing might become a microchip activity in our heads, even helped through AI and biotechnology. So the means of writing will no longer only be say a computer, paper and pen but the advances of those. Writing would be a form of sculpture using our hands and minds, in a pixel/artificial or physical world, a feeling and thought that would be mapped through the technological advances of the time, as long as we manage to have a sustainable planet. In addition, I believe performance art, sounds and movement are ways of writing too, using the body to create a new language, a new space for existence. These will also evolve further, in relation to technology and future robots.
VS: Do you think humanity has a future?
KP: It certainly has. It’s upon the direction and actions of all society forces to decide how bright, dystopian, or anything in between, that future could be. Future is a spectrum, inspiring and challenging at the same time.
VS: Will we have a universal language in the future, or national languages, as we have now?
KP: I believe the borders between what’s ‘national’ and ‘universal’ will be less obvious, even from a language perspective. In my mind, future will be more and more multilingual and at the same time a place where we will show higher respect for each language. Each language, no matter how small or big, is a unique way of human expression. We need that diversity of expression, of human insight and experience. I would also like to think that higher cooperation to tackle environmental, social and economic challenges will be another form of universal language, establishing a more peaceful planet.
VS: In 1991, the Soviet people believed in a better future, i.e. democracy, freedom, social advancement, etc. However, 29 years later, nothing has changed. What are your thoughts about this?
KP: I believe progress is, unfortunately, not linear. There are many ups and downs in the way. In Russia and also in every country we need to look carefully and pragmatically what’s working and what needs new ways of thinking in order to lift everyone in society. Freedom and social advancement need a strong democratic framework to flourish. If that framework is broken or severely flawed then progress cannot even start.
VS: Who do you admire the most in the world?
KP: If I had to pick one person in the arts, I would choose Joan Jonas because I particularly admire artists who are pushing boundaries. Jonas pioneered performance and video art, with her influences also extending to conceptual art, theatre and visual media. She has pushed the boundaries of art for the last five decades. She is absolutely inspiring to me.
VS: The main topic today is COVID-19. What can you say about it?
KP: It looks like here in the UK, the Government unfortunately did not take enough measures from the start. I thought they put the economy above everything. However the National Health Service (NHS) already had serious problems. Why a rich country like the UK should end up not having enough intensive care units? Why should we be governed by those who do not care enough about each one of us? All past mistakes will just blow up to our face. I am observing the sad statistics in London, the country and the world. I say to myself: one day you will die, accept your mortality (but I really don’t want to). However during this ongoing crisis, seeing some amazing solidarity in the UK and in many countries around the world, it definitely helps me keep my trust in humanity. We will bounce back stronger. We can at least learn from past mistakes. A new day brighter day will come.
VS: What made you start writing?
KP: I was keen to create my own new world through language. By intention, I started building my writings with three main components: optics, sound and meaning – and I still do. These co-exist and interact in the lines and create something which I believe is above them; that’s what a poem is about. I don’t rely solely on just one of these three components. I believe this enables my work to be translated easily into more than one language. More than this, when I perform my work the optics, sound and meaning explorations come to life in a different way as I move across the stage; I become my own poem, performed not just printed.
Konstantinos Papacharalampos works in poetry, performance, installation and regeneration, based in London. He is a published author in Greek, German, English and Russian. His work featured in Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis (Penned in the Margins 2015) and Dichtung mit Biss (Freie Universität Berlin: ed. Romiosini/ CeMoG 2018). He has exhibited visual poetry at The Poetry Café (Covent Garden) and performed in a number of venues and festivals in the UK and Greece, including European Poetry Festival, The Poetry Café, University of Brighton, Velorose Gallery, Free Thinking Zone, Lola Nikolaou Gallery and Thessaloniki Book Fair. His original performance Odysseus, give me a like premiered at the 62nd Philippi Festival, part of events dedicated to Homer’s Odyssey. He tweets at @Kon_Papach.
Vlad* Savich was born in the USSR, where he was educated, married and fathered his daughter. As soon as the chance appeared to leave, he did. At present he lives in Montreal, where he writes, directs for the theatre and breathes the air of freedom. He can be found online at: savich.lit.com.ua. *He prefers not to be called Vladimir, so as not to be associated with the disreputable activity of a certain barnardine Russian leader.