Contemporary sociology has kept some distance from what once was perceived as “place”. Place is not a stative and irrelevant background where human activity takes place. For sociologists nowadays place is a fundamental analytical category for understanding human relations. Places are indeed fields that are pervaded by power relations, interact with human experience and collective memory, and participate actively in the construction of individual and collective identities. Places are discourses, according to Roland Barthes’ coding, and the residents of a region are not just users of the region, but readers and at the same time authors as well. Taking this into account, the pages of the book are made with/by the residents from Western regions of Attiki, Greece, and involve the pallor of architectural and urban planning modernity along with plenty of smudges as a double outcome from modernity’s disenchantment and cement uniformity of poverty.
Western regions of Attiki lie outside the metropolitan centre of Athens and are considered either suburbs or individual towns. They have always been the basis of class and social pyramid of the Greek capital city, a ghetto of povery-stricken and degraded social strata, with scattered pockets of history and a dominant grassroots culture. Central governments rarely pay attention to these regions’ needs. Urban planning and construction are proved suffocating and without any actual planning, while there is weak social infrastructure and few open public spaces. People born here share the common matrix of poverty and the common fate of a sealed horizon. These formerly labour regions have been transformed into unemployment regions during these years of the economic crisis, with a part of their population becoming offenders and drug addicts in their attempt to find futile and unnatural enjoyment within this dystopia of an uninspiring reality.
“West” is an experiential project since it depicts life in the place where I was born, raised, walked; where I still live. This project is the point where my personal experience intersects with the collective identity of the people I have met. A topography of sorrow with fragments of personal let downs.