Ilias Poulos

What we don’t see is staring at us
A visual installation on the drug addicts of the interwar period

There are almost no references to the long history of substance abuse in Greece as a social phenomenon; a phenomenon which for many years was relegated exclusively to the domain of psychiatric institutions. With his visual installation What we don't see is staring at us, the artist Ilias Poulos invites visitors to a conversation with the alienated faces of drug addicts. Approaching its subject matter in a multifaceted way, the installation urges audiences to break through the closed doors of asylums, while at the time, inviting the asylum, a ‘scapegoated’ part of the city, to open up to society.

The installation includes rare photographs of heroin, morphine and cocaine users hospitalized in psychiatric institutions (Dromokaitio Mental Hospital, Eginition University Hospital, Dafni Psychiatric Hospital) in the period 1920-1940. The material was compiled by the sociologist Dimitris Ifantis who conducted a research on substance abuse in Greece between the wars.

An exhibition catalogue will be available to visitors

Opening hours:

Tuesday & Thursday: 11.00-19.00

Τετάρτη & Friday: 17.00-20.00

Saturday - Sunday: 11.00-17.00

Monday: Closed

Two discussions open to the public will be held on the occasion of the exhibition

8 June 2019


“Drug abuse and addiction as seen by researchers and artists”

This discussion will shed light to the historic continuity of drug abuse and addiction as a social phenomenon, the significance of research on substance abuse, and its social and artistic representations. The representations of substance abuse in the imaginary of Greek society which even today – even more so in the past – re-ignite feelings of denial, urging people “not to look at” what they perceive as destabilizing, will also be researched. The role of art in approaching the ‘unfamiliar,’ what ‘looks back at us’ through our contact with the disconcerting otherness of substance abusers, will also be discussed.

Participants include Giorgos Chr. Zervas, director, Ira-Iliana Papadopoulou, sociologist-curator, Ilias Poulos, visual artist, Dimitris Ifantis, sociologist-researcher.

The discussion will be followed by a tribute to rembetika songs about substance abuse.

26 June 2019


Screening of Giorgos C. Zervas' documentary "Tora Kano Oneira".


Discussion: “The therapeutic treatment of substance abuse in the past and the present”

This discussion will focus on the dynamics and history of substance abuse, and its therapeutic treatment in rehabilitation programmes of psychiatric institutions, featuring well-known health professionals. The present situation and the new needs and questions emerging from substance abuse and related therapies will also be discussed.

Participants include Foivos Zafeiridis, psychiatrist, former associate professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and scientific supervisor of the Self-Help Programme of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; Katerina Matsa, psychiatrist, former head of the 18 Ano programme at the Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, and Dimitris Ploumpidis, psychiatrist and academic.