Sofokleous & Menandrou
Omonoia area has always been a field of great interest for me and my emotional states. The spatial centre, from where some of the most famous avenues of the capital city start, always fascinated me in an underground level, that even today I find it difficult to discover.
For about one year and a half, from the mid 2012 until the early 2014, every Wednesday and Thursday i used to cross the Omonoia square and using an old digital camera with damaged focus I was trying to capture human narrations. Because even today I believe that those streets give birth to the premature material through which the human history is written.
Watching the flow of the people and vehicles I began to realize that their circular movement was “breaking” into the surrounding streets and alleys: Sofokleous, Xouthou, Satovriandou, Veranzerou, Geraniou, Iasonos, Menandrou, Sokratous. There, “capricious” stories, people with a “trivial” past, try to put their own mark on the city map. Drug addicts, illegal prostitutes having the HIV virus, immigrants packed in tens in a few square metres around the old blocks. Underground unofficial mosques, homeless people. Those who the news headlines name as “The modern Miserables”, for me are just people who depict all those things that we refuse to see. Human figures with another sense of space and time. Living in the city centre, yet miles away. In a universe ostracized from the common sight.
Every time I got back there, everything looked the same but at the same time so different. I met Fanis who was the main source for me to “enter” the drug addicts ranks. A few months later he lost his leg from septicemia. I was told that a Pakistani -he called me “brother” – had been locked up in Amigdaleza. Some others got involved with the illegal cigarette trade. I met some of the HIV positive prostitutes. Over and over again. At the hotels where they were whoring for ten or twenty euros. I felt embarassed at the sight of their aged and needle pierced body.
Unconditionally and with no aim to claim the role of the “history witness”, I just tried to see and record. There were times when I was scared, but they were no more than those walking on main streets of any other city. The hardest part of this whole time was for them to accept me. And for me not to betray them. To become a small part of their daily routine. To be able to photograph the wounds, their sacred texts (Koran), to share a smile or a bitterness.