Greece Is So Much More Than Its Recession
Niko J. Kallianiotis's photo series, <i>Motherland</i>, shows a happier side of the country than the one we are used to seeing.
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This article originally appeared on VICE Greece
I was born and raised in Greece, but my entire adulthood has spent in the United States. As the Greek socioeconomic crisis intensified over the last four years, media outlets have bombarded us with images of turmoil, despair, and desolation. Some of these pictures cut like a blade for people like me—someone who has spent half of his life in Athens and half in the picturesque hillsides of Pennsylvania. Is this really what Greece has become? Athens was once the center of democracy, civilization, and the arts, but now it forces its elderly to beg for their pensions?
Obviously, these miserable images are implicitly related to the current socioeconomic situation. Nobody can doubt or undermine the power of these images, but the facts they represent are selective. Simply put, these pictures only represent a fraction of contemporary Greek society.
With my latest series, I've strived to depict the crisis with undertones of the hope, humor, pride, and dignity that characterize Greek culture. Under the golden light that plummets over the Athenian plateau and beyond, I tried to document the transformed society that I was once a part of. As I walked the streets of my youth, feeling both familiar and at times alien, I experienced the diverse environs fluctuating between harmony and tension. Overall, I felt a sense of belonging.
Most photographic projects are personal, but to me Motherland is as personal as it gets. This body of work resonates with me emotionally and represents quite a significant part of who I am.