In 2016, drawn by the smell of Easter cookies, I ventured into a tiny bakery in the village of Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. The operator, a woman named Kalliope, was going about her function although carrying what seemed to me like a common costume.
Right after chatting for a moment or two, I questioned if she was dressed this way since it was Easter.
“What do you mean?” she asked. “These are my clothing.”
“You are the 1,” she additional, “who is dressed in a European costume.”
Even with getting developed up in Athens and traveled thoroughly all over Greece, I experienced by no means before appear across a community in which persons wore such conventional garments in their working day-to-working day life.
Yet, considerably from seeming performative, Kalliope’s garments looked intrinsic to her village — a great deal additional so, as she instructed, than the garments I wore when I greeted her.
Immediately after my encounter in Olympos, I determined to make a job of checking out the unseen corners of my state — to fulfill the folks, find out about their common methods, and make images together the way that could provide a window into Greek society for other folks to peer via.
4 and a half several years later, on a sunny Sunday morning, I identified myself in the village of Nea Vyssa, in Greece’s extreme northeastern corner, where I experienced organized a two-working day photography session. I sat at just one stop of a long table, established amid a wonderful blossomed garden, sipping Greek espresso and tasting the regional delicacies.
As females arrived to be photographed in their standard apparel, I requested the president of the local cultural club, Fani, to just take me all around the village to uncover correct places in which I would make the pictures. I usually locate spots that are abandoned or just on the brink of remaining deserted, due to the fact normally such spots attribute customary architecture, without the need of any modern additions or changes.
To me, pictures is about considerably extra than just the photographs them selves. I have a passion for rural Greece, and I delight in discovering the concept of xenia, or hospitality — a central virtue that can be traced back to ancient Greece.
Nikos Kazantzakis, a celebrated Greek author, describes in his fictionalized autobiography, “Report to Greco,” how his grandfather would go out at nights, strolling about the dark alleys of Crete, lantern in hand, to look for for persons wandering the streets who experienced nowhere to commit the night. He would provide them to his property, feed them and offer you them a location to rest.
I have professional several manifestations of this hospitality on my own journeys. For the earlier 5 several years, I have visited Tetralofo, a modest village of about 300 individuals in northern Greece, to doc the conventional New Year’s celebrations regarded as Kotsamania, or Momoeria.
Kotsamania is a theatrical ritual performed just about every Christmas by local guys who take a look at houses to want prosperity, abundance and pleasure for the yr to appear. The full neighborhood usually takes component in the celebrations, which contain street theater, dancing and the actively playing of common instruments.
On 1 celebration in Tetralofo, when I was remaining hosted at the cultural club, people would get there every single working day to deliver me house-cooked meals. Other individuals — people today I’d by no means achieved — presented to host me in their houses. I felt suitable at residence.
Quite a few classic situations all over Greece are revivals of old customs, executed to help the neighborhood financial state by drawing holidaymakers and notice. Often such occasions feel kitsch and, in a way, inauthentic.
Some others, though, this sort of as Kotsamania, have survived in unadulterated forms and are executed as legitimate, integral areas of a community.
In the long run, my perform tries to emphasize these customs: to existing vivid, sophisticated depictions of fading traditions, and to enable us keep away from the pitfalls of monotony in our present day lives.