Figuring the Aftermath
In the years prior to 2008, people in Greece were living in relative “normality”. Its capital, Athens, was a chaotic southern European city that in spite its decadence looked interesting and enchanting.
Eva Stefani showed her project Bathers in 2008, in which she followed for a couple of years a group of elderly Greek men and women who met every summer at various spa towns around Greece. Her distinctive presence put people at ease and created feeling of trust and familiarity between the artist and her subjects. Her camera captured this transient community in various amusing, insightful and melancholic moments. In 2009 things began to change, as the international financial crisis hit Greece first and for that reason the hardest through wholly punitive financial “rescue” programmes that imposed unprecedented, brutal austerity measures and brought Greek society to its knees. Looking at this video ten years later, one cannot help wonder what became of these people. Eva Stefani captured these elderly people in their most vulnerable, moving but also spirited moments and only a year before their lives and their annual social ritual were violently disrupted.
Marina Gioti showed her work As to Posterity in 2014. Unlike many artists who at that time were documenting the “crisis”, she chose not to film the people themselves but their traces. For some three years she filmed various parts of Athens at times where no people were present. One can only speculate about this recorded absence. She filmed places that either look like or are abandoned. Some of them even had a significant political, social and symbolic value, which due to their falling into decay and disuse has now being lost. Marina Gioti managed to transform an extremely vibrant capital city to a deserted site. Are people absent or already dead? Is this a future or is this a past? Every now and again sounds of birds and the blowing wind underlines the emptiness with subtle irony. Greece became a place for political experimentation and punishment, a catalyst for various political, financial and social tactics. Although destruction seems to have been accepted as “normal”, people try hard to cling to a sense of dignity and pride, and not to lose their spirit. Both artists cast a discreet and sensitive but also critical eye on the social and political conditions of the world where they live, and with their artworks attempt to give us a glimpse of our complex, obscure and almost inconceivable present.