Nikos Markou places this project at the intersection between discourse and image. It is a contemporary photographic series based on an audiovisual work, which seems to engrave history: the portrait sits still as we listen to each person’s life story, or an extract from it. In this juxtaposition between the flow of the story and the stillness of the face, there emerges a personal story that is part of the political and social life of Greece: glimpses from the crisis, from the life of immigrants, from the hardship that people have had to endure, ways of living, of loving, of getting married, of growing up. This is not a political piece, or was not meant to be. However, it seems as if the portraits dilate and become part of an image: histories into history and faces into portraits. In this oscillation, the stories and the people matter for as long as the viewer is there to observe and participate. Then they shall fall into oblivion, just like the faces and the words of people one has never met, and probably never will meet. With Life Narratives (2012-14), Markou touches something very private – as if one is looking at a family album with him – and at the same time something extremely public, a great part of Greece itself.
Click on Vimeo to listen to the original recordings in Greek language with English subtitle.
“…until the partisans came.
They were trying to cut my mother’s finger to get her wedding ring.
After that, we run away to the mountains to hide from the partisans.
We had my newborn brother with us, and he was crying.
An uncle of mine suggested to my mom that we throw him off the cliff, so as not be given away to the partisans…”
“I had a husband who was so nice.
A good guy.
We went through…he had cancer.
He was sick but he would not say it
Everyone loved him…”
“…I was born in 1937, we didn’t have dreams.
It’s strange, but this word didn’t exist for us
I would like this
I want that
No, I have no dreams…”
“…And now, after all those years of hardships, we finally managed to build with our own hands a small house, but the newcomers are asking for so many taxes so as to take it all away from us once again…”
“…Not because I want it to be so, but because they think I am homeless, that’s also important, they won’t speak to a homeless person, they think they are gentlemen and I am second class. What can you do?…”
“…I am about 55 years old, so they tell me they have no use for an old man like me…”
“…because certain Greeks blame the immigrants for the crisis.
But I don’t think so.
And as I don’t seem to have a future here.
I am thinking to leave.”
“… I know we will survive, as our ancestors also had to go through similar situations.
There were ten people in the family eating at the same table.
We can do the same now, everyone gather around a big pot and eat together.
Greece has gone through a lot, and it will go through a lot in the future.
It is not a tragic thing.
We are the ones who make it tragic.”
“…The things that bother me in some of my friends, is that they lie, they swear, and that they pretend to be tough guys in front of other people…”
“…She loves me, she loves me not…”
By Nikos Markou