- Welcome, did you return to stay, dear?
- I'm only visiting as always, but let's hug!

HOTEL HELLAS (ongoing since 2017)

Since my family's migration to Athens from the Lebanese civil war in 1989, my relationship to Athens and Greece evolved through the years into a impermanent place of Return.
Those images and dialogues convey fugitive presence glimpses of that attempt to visit a homeland, an ephemeral past existence in exile, instant future projections of a worn nostalgia, and the death of a precarious chronology of History.
They are mostly fragile strands of an unfinished poem, dedicated to singing the ruins of belonging, in a time of war.
Once back home, how can you look at your own tired face, sick and ravaged by the trip?

Depuis la migration de ma famille à Athènes de la guerre civile libanaise en 1989, ma relation avec la Grèce a évolué au fil des années en un lieu impermanent du Retour.
Ces images et dialogues véhiculent des aperçus de présence fugitive, de cette tentative de visiter une patrie, une existence éphémère passée en exile, les projections instantanées d'une nostalgie usée et la mort d'une chronologie précaire de l'Histoire.
Ils sont principalement les traces fragiles d'un poème inachevé, consacré à chanter les ruines de l'appartenance, en temps de guerre.
Une fois de retour à la maison, comment regarder son propre visage fatigué, malade et ravagé par le voyage?

Από τη μετανάστευση της οικογένειάς μου στην Αθήνα το 1989, κατά τη διάρκεια του εμφυλίου πολέμου του Λιβάνου, η σχέση μου με την Ελλάδα εξελίχθηκε με την πάροδο των χρόνων σε ένα μόνιμο τόπο Επιστροφής.
Αυτές οι εικόνες και τα κείμενα μεταδίδουν μια φαινομενική παρουσία, μιας άλλης αποτυχημένης προσπάθειας να επισκεφτώ την πατρίδα, μια εφήμερη περασμένη ύπαρξη στην εξορία, στιγμιαίες προβολές στο μέλλον μιας φθαρμένης νοσταλγίας και το θάνατο μιας επισφαλούς χρονολόγησης της Ιστορίας.
Είναι ως επί το πλείστον, εύθραυστα σκέλη ενός ημιτελούς ποιήματος, αφιερωμένα στο τραγούδι των ερειπίων του ανήκειν, σε μια εποχή πολέμου.
Πίσω στο σπίτι, πώς μπορεί κανείς να εξετάσει το δικό του κουρασμένο σώμα, άρρωστο και λεηλατημένο από το ταξίδι;

- Many pigeons landed on Noah's ark today!
- But no sign of life on board ...

- A politician once told me that Greece is a ship sailing on a sea of olive oil.
- I guess now it is sailing on an ocean of rooms for rent!

- How did he describe the spirit of a woman who walked and encouraged the defenders of the besieged city of Missolonghi?
- In the same way he described the beauty of spring.

- Are you always carrying around a backpack?
- I often come across a figure, mirroring my image, and it's always with a backpack.

- You often come here, but never with a fishing rod?
- For one terrible night, my friend, this white boat was my only hope for a better future in Europe. Today I walk here all the way from the camp, to watch my "hope" sinking slowly slowly in this beautiful bay looking at the fish trapped in those "concentration camps".

- I came here just for the luxury view and the swimming pool!
- You just came to forget who you are.

- At the monument for Asia Minor Catastrophe the stairs lead to a stone blocking the entrance!
- Isn't this what always happen to all immigrants?

- They killed him because he was dirty, infected and a thief!
- Yes, that's exactly what we blamed him for, and of what we stink of.

- Go get a haircut and come join the family!
- But I prefer to be alone.

- When you step out of this doorstep, don't look back!
- So you're not coming with me?

- One day I will return home!
- Try to knock at any door on your way back and may be you will already be there...

- I wonder how summer will end this year ?
- When autumn comes, I guess...

- Don't be shy, let us kiss. I'm not the only black sheep around!
- But you're older than me...

- Do you think "Annetta + Dimitris" are still in love?
- The real question is why is that cockpit resting in a fishermen's shipyard on this island!

- I wish I could live here in solitude!
- With snakes, hedgehogs, butterflies, partridges, chameleons, lizards, goats, eagles... and those are only few of the species that we encountered coming here.

- More and more tanker ships are parked here!
- But the Chinese will give us the title of the biggest port in the Mediterranean, in few years.

- It seems we have a monument, to the memory of hundreds of excursions!
- And It manifested through this fog, with the cry of a rooster, on the mountains of Epirus.

- They seem to have forgotten me here!
- No, you just became part of a new great vintage museum collection.

- What is so Ancient and precious about those Eleusis stones?
- Since the time or people who took shelter in their shade are gone, I suppose!

- What's that monument about?
- Forty-eight mattresses for forsaken dreams!

- Have you ever dreamt of a new beginning?
- I dream of ruins, ashes, burnt land, and Justice.

- Luck has abandoned us!
- Faith in luck will never abandon us, my friend.

- Why don't you look at me?
- In your foreign gaze I see my Cain!

- I sometimes find refuge in the silence of Athens' churches.
- But saints are easier to find on the streets, wrapped up in their tiredness.

- Where do that choked scream come from?
- From the last cry of a slaughtered goat - τράγος, origin of the word tragedy - τραγωδία, birthplace of songs - τραγούδια.

- My home city seems void of hospitality!
- There are also times that we will feel as foreigners in an abandoned hotel.

- The neighbour's house is burning!
- Don't just stand there watching, call the firefighters or the building will burn.

- I came back from travel to find an empty refrigerator!
- It stayed empty since you emigrated, waiting for you.

- Can you see your city being abandoned by its citizens?
- Only when I cry, I can.

- When was your last Christmas holiday?
- Before the fall of the Empire.

- Chinatown is empty today!
- The whole world might be empty one day, soon.

- They burned my home, my garden & my landscape!
- You burned yourself, your present and future and remained surrounded by the remains of your past.

- Are you tired enough to look at me?
- From all the landscapes of the world, only here at this lakeside, we could have felt together, for an instant, the exhaustion and the warmth of an upcoming spring.

- How did you end up here, on this gloomy august day?
- Ask the heart-weather forecast!

- Summer is coming and going and I still can't build my own sea view apartment, before it's definitely blocked!
- Stop complaining and enjoy suntanning.

- Let's do a selfie to send to your son.
- I constantly send him selfies but he never says anything!

- What kind of hospitality is offering just unlimited time and shade!
- Their state of limbo is our shame.

- Imagine we were walking on a slow pace and heavy steps!
- I wonder if we had the power to drag to our rhythm some of those fast forward tourists in Athens.

- Summer is at the gates!
- But our failures this winter are still tearing us apart.

- Are you still longing for your homeland, my dear?
- I'm just listening to the exiled twittering of those nightingales.

- Where are you walking to, foreigner?
- To the holy land ...

- Please don't go!
- I'm not leaving anywhere, I just don't want to see you anymore.

- As if someone had built a nest to hide us here!
- Let's look each other in the eyes, as if it were the only homeland we know.

- Are we at the gates of the promised land? 
- There we are. And a strange receptionist, with his red mantle is guarding the entrance.

- Are you new here ?
- Yes, and you ?



(Athens, Greece, Nov. 2018-Jan.2019)

(Samos, Greece, August 4–September 30, 2019 )