I am writing this as I wait in line at the Greek Chamber of Commerce to declare my profession. From now on, I will officially be part of the Greek tax system and in a sense an official member of the Greek economic crisis.
This is the third time I have come here to wait an average of 5 hours and I have yet to be served. I think I will get my job done this time but most people here won’t. The monotony and suspense of waiting has now become part of the Greek psyche, be it in line at a public service office, preparing oneself for the evening news, or in the heaviness of bracing for national fiscal disaster.
Over the past two years, time in Greece is not measured in hours or months but in the number of monetary installments we receive. We are now officially on our sixth as the European Union itself hangs from a precipice. As more time passes Athens changes in steady increments as the urban landscape is at low tide seeping back, only to be submerged under a likely bankruptcy. This crisis is not only economical, but a social, cultural and moral one.
These images are an examination of an invisible agitation, which I feel is present in Athens today, a city simultaneously depressed and hyperactive as everyday life slugs along injected with nervous energy. I intended to capture moments that I thought would evoke the surreal feeling of being here, documenting environments, which make up of what can be described as a culture of crisis. I have lived abroad for the past eleven years and on returning, I wanted to move away from documenting riots and poverty and rediscover the stripped aesthetics of everyday Athens, which I remembered. As Greece moves towards change in turmoil and demonstrations, it also has a silent life, an everyday responsibility, which is becoming increasingly hard to deal with. There is a tangible reluctance and hesitation that I wanted to capture through these settings, showing elements of Athens and its society, which may disappear as Greece moves towards change for better or worse.
Through this work I am also trying to personally rationlize how the deceptively tedious components of urban life factor into the economic crisis. From public offices, empty coffee houses to political headquarters, I explore the urban landscapes that have preceded the crisis, but are now the settings for it. Like the Greek people, these places are in anticipation for their future. The locations I chose are at once familiar microcosms for Athenians, but have now become the public stage for a forced negotiation of Greek identity. Even though people are absent in most of the images, their absence is a question on their participation and actual hand in the crisis itself.
Being at the very beginning of the project I have mostly explored environments of the public service sector combining them with street scenes and otherwise plain, yet allusive settings. I wish to continue this project further to create an alternative narrative for life in Athens that delves deeper into the present complexities of the Greek character.