This project was singled out for distinction among the submissions to the LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2016 by juror Enrico Bossan. Each juror selected one photographer to receive a special $1,000 grant—discover why this one stood out.
This project started in the fall of 2012, when my involvement in an unrelated work brought me to Victoria Square, the first of the neighborhoods in Athens that I documented for “Saints.”
My initial goal was to capture the everyday life of the children who worked in and played on the square. As we became close and spent more and more time together, I came to know their parents, their families and their friends. I was welcomed into their homes. This added a crucial element towards a deeper and more comprehensive exploration of their world.
This new dimension took me to the refugee building complex on Leoforos Alexandras [Alexandras Avenue], the street where most of them lived.
As a result of this trust, I was able to closely witness many of the different sides of their hard lives. As we gradually grew closer, I was admitted to more intimate aspects of their private lives. One such aspect was their relationship with religion: I was invited to witness their religious observances and practices as well as visit their places of worship.
The last stage of this project took me to the Pedion tou Areos park, where the homeless refugees were provided with provisional housing during the peak of the refugee crisis in August 2015.
“Saints” is a strong, long-term project that allows us to enter the rooms and private spaces of an Afghan refugee community in Athens, Greece. We often hear stories regarding the lives of immigrants, but rarely are we admitted to share their intimacy. These photographs’ expressionist—sometimes cinematographic—style gives us the impression of touching these people. Here, photography is not only a medium—it transforms into a sensorial experience.
—Enrico Bossan, Editorial Director, Colors Magazine
Editors’ note: Saints is now a beautiful book:
Photographs by Panos Kefalos
Format: 17 x 24 cm