The world is the sum of what is past and what has detached from us.
Spleen is based on the notion of sedimentation.
It's also an attempt to visualize Athens' depression era.
I narrate the city through the eyes of an urban geologist.
I have been wandering its streets as a self-exile.
I re-examine different parts of today’s Athens, directly accessible to observation, looking for hints of simple human gestures.
In both the shooting and the editing phase, I treat these images/scenes with alienation and humor; I re-consider them for new narrative elements, through the latest social and political changes, the successive layers of history, and the poetics of realism and light.
The evolution of Athens is projected from these new "geological formations" through research expanding in time, but also as intuitions or symptoms into radical changes to come.
Cleaning up, during the Olympics in 2004, in front of the image of the Acropolis, wrapping partly the facade of some athenian buildings in ruins, the famous “Kountouriotika“: refugee housing compounds, built in 1934-40, after the great Catastrophe in 1922, Alexandras Avenue.
An icon that became five years later a premonition of a new era for Athens!
Pedion Areos, park of political wizardry…
"Once you're up there, do not forget that there are people who will listen to you ...", said the marble.
How many stories has this olive tree listened to, in those last two millennia, without saying a word!
Once upon a time, before the gates of paradise...
If Athens' melancholy manifests in color, it would have been white.
One fly congratulating the poet Palamas for his new nose !
We all sometimes feel the need to set free from unnecessary surplus ...
A wall separates the future of the Athens Olympic facilities, from the growth of these pines.
Mutation of borders in post-Olympic Athens.
Painted by Yannis Tsarouchis, photographed by Henri Cartier Bresson, restored and abandoned property of the Ministry of Culture.
Aiolou street – Monastiraki, Ιonic columns, ruins of the Hellenic identity, for future archaeologists, from the depression era.
In the wealthy neighborhood of insignificant changes.
They fled to Greece as foreigners, from Asia Minor, almost a century ago, and brought in their luggage what the country would embrace from their generosity and nobility. Today some of their grandchildren are migrating again with the same luggage...
... And from the loud speaker, you can distinguish the sound of a porn movie, coming out from the semi basement of a sex shop !!!
Layout and stratification, alienation and humor, migration and travel, all play their part in this Athenian narrative.
During the fall of democracy, hands drop like dead leaves!
Sometimes vandalism creates a vacuum of meaning where was hardly any in the first place !
Head of a Cycladic figurine, from the 2004 Olympics' opening ceremony, "Mother Goddess" symbol of fertility and rejuvenation, is scattered in the parking lot of an abandoned stadium.
Crime elements are behind the wall, in the construction site of Mr. V!
light salmon paint
'Punishment', a muted word, incessantly bouncing off the walls at Athens' law school !
Time can become a painter when erasing memory…
At what cost came the "success story" of Plan Marshall back then? In Greece, some people still remember.
Paint, stains, graffiti, traces, signatures, slogans and a deep desire for a blank page ...
In front of a bankrupt shopping mall, in a suburban neighborhood.
Bench carved into the marble of the hill of Filopappou, ancient, as the Athenians' desire for justice, now desperately looking for a scapegoat.
What kind of cure to our existential crisis since 2009?
Still unable to look at ourselves in the mirror for fear of discovering the beast ...
St. Panteleimon square
“Foreigners out of Greece. Greece only for Greeks”, a strange carpet in front of stairs of St. Panteleimon church.
Work in progress, incomplete architecture, or un-cemented faith !
"We the chosen few, will eat, drink, dance, break plates, at the biggest Bouzouki, and forget about the German owner, until the day he brings the check", said to me an economist friend when I asked him about the crisis in Greece, early 2010.
Disused factories, occupied by unemployed flora!
"When the low heavy sky weighs like a lid
Upon the spirit aching for the light,
And all the wide horizon's line is hid
By a black day sadder than any night;"
- Charles Baudelaire.
Silent and unaccounted for victims of the depression era...
Excursions and hundreds of kilometers driven, just resting on the sidewalk.
Rising satellite dishes, crumbling antennas: end of an era ...
Faliro, closed park, destined to be swallowed by the sea.
An unusual tree, in a tiny garden in Egaleo, lights up, for a split second, one gloomy Christmas 2013!
coming back soon
How many greeks today, are migrating saying to their friends or family: "Coming back soon"? And most of them will spend the rest of their lives, longing for that return.
Under the vigilant eye of austerity ...
Always fear, shame and resignation to see you from behind.
Edification of shacks in some streets of Athens, meanwhile a country sunk into daydreaming!
I've always lived the city of Athens as another room in my apartment, but this one is most likely, my room in the near future.
An odd detail during protest in times of recession, Pentelikon white marble is thrown at riot police.
... and a stratification of sacred icons.
This is not a graffiti but a way to imagine a basement.
And this is not red spray but a refusal of the Other.
dead palm tree
After a shipwreck some elements do not get swallowed by the sea, but float to shore ...
"I wonder if the depression era will make phone booths less lonely ? " she asked.
Who will remember in a few years all those forests that were embracing Attica ?
What remains today from Syntagma square famous Christmas tree, during the era of major spendings initiated by Mayor Avramopoulos, are miniature copies, scattered everywhere ...
Natural selection is not only about nature ...
The heart eater says: "Listen to the cries of Athens to imagine a day after".
mimetic air conditioners
In art history, "mimesis", "realism" and "naturalism" are used, often interchangeably, as terms for the accurate, even "illusionistic", representation of the visual appearance of things.
In these times of recession when 'power' is covered with a thin 'coat' of hate, forms of expression on the margins of law tend to mime it.
When urban pruning becomes a vital source for heating ...
So hastily build monument, perhaps rotting slowly memory cells …
Always there, between passers by, humbly, with somebody's flowers in her hand...
Charles Baudelaire wrote to his mother, Mrs. Aupick, December 30, 1859: "What I feel is a huge discouragement, an unbearable feeling of isolation, constant fear of a vague unhappiness, a complete distrust of my strengths, a total lack of desire, an inability to find any fun.
-You're not looking at my face!
- I do see in your fading eyes the spleen that I have observed for years, on the streets of Athens.
Orange celestial teardrops for a slain body in the courtyard of the university...
In the backyard of one out of many theaters that shut down, in Athens since 2009.
coins & ancient orifice
Did any Athenian throw a coin into the well of the Acropolis Museum? What wish would they make today?
Ripped lampshades or somewhere a lidless window!
A safe haven burned to ashes!
New horizons are buried, down the black stairs, inward, urban, in an underground burnt land !
Sometimes, while strolling in Athens, you feel like in a prison courtyard!?!
Carrying the weight of our depression are small human gestures in the arena of commons, on the streets of Athens...
A rudimentary architecture, a few kilometers from the Parthenon, to remind us of the fragility of our well being.
"My beloved Athens do not despair, I can always see that you are not a city".
No Country For Young Men - Bozar (Bruxelles, Belgium, Mar 2014)
SPLEEN - CRITICAL ARCHIVES III: IDENTITIES - Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete (Rethymno, Greece, Jan-March 2018)
Aperture Magazine (USA)