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

Omonia, Athens.

HOTEL HELLAS (ongoing since 2017)

Since my family's migration to Athens from the Lebanese civil war in 1989, my relationship to Greece evolved through the years into a impermanent place of Return.
Those images and texts convey fugitive presence glimpses of that attempt to visit a homeland, an ephemeral past existence, instant future projections of a worn nostalgia, and the death of a precarious chronology of History.
They are mostly strands of an unfinished poem, dedicated to singing the ruins of belonging, in a time of war.

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 textes véhiculent des aperçus de présence fugitive, de cette tentative de visiter une patrie, une existence éphémère passée, les projections instantanées d'une nostalgie usée et la mort d'une chronologie précaire de l'Histoire.
Ils sont principalement les traces d'un poème inachevé, consacré à chanter les ruines de l'appartenance, d'un temps de guerre.

Από τη μετανάστευση της οικογένειάς μου στην Αθήνα από τον εμφύλιο πόλεμο του Λιβάνου το 1989, η σχέση μου με την Ελλάδα εξελίχθηκε με την πάροδο των χρόνων σε ένα μόνιμο τόπο Επιστροφής.
Αυτές οι εικόνες και κείμενα μεταδίδουν μια φαινομενική παρουσία, μιας άλλης αποτυχημένης προσπάθειας να επισκεφτω την πατρίδα, μια προηγούμενη εφήμερη ύπαρξη, στιγμιαίες προβολές στο μέλλον μιας φθαρμένης νοσταλγίας και τον θάνατο μιας επισφαλούς χρονολογίας της Ιστορίας.
Είναι ως επί το πλείστον, σκέλη ενός ημιτελή ποίημα, αφιερωμένο τραγούδι, στα ερείπια του ανήκειν, μιας εποχής πολέμου.

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

- 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!
Kalamata, Peloponese.

- 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.
Zappion gardens, Athens.

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

- 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".
Leros, Dodecanese.

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

- 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.

Pireaus, Attica.

- It seems we have a monument, to the memory of hundreds of excursions!
- And It manifested through this fog, in the vicinity of a farm, on the mountains of Epeirus.
Zagori, Epeirus.

- Don't be shy, let us kiss!
- But you're older than me...
Leros, Dodecanese.

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

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

- Have you dreamt of new beginnings and individual freedom?
- I dream of ruins, ashes, burnt land, and Justice.
Syntagma, Athens.

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

- What's that monument about?
- Forty-eight mattresses for forsaken dreams!
Spata, Attica.

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

- 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.
Leros, Dodecanese.

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

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

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

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

- 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!
Elefsina, Attica.

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

- 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.
Ladon Lake, Peleponese.

- 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.
Tinos, Aegean sea.

- 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.
Kanigos, Athens.

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

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

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


Harper's magazine


HOTEL HELLAS - TOURISTS - 13,700,000 km^3 - Pythagorion Art Space (Samos, Greece, August 4–September 30, 2019 )