Chris Kontos, the creative soul behind Kennedy Magazine, presents ASPESI through the faces of today and the symbolic places of his hometown.
A photographic narrative dedicated to the Greeks that represent the future - people who are making the difference with their work, undermining his conviction that Athens would move forward only by looking at its past. There are the Athenians who return, those who remained and the foreigners who move to the city, rendering the shift towards the new Hellenic future more evident.
"When I was asked to curate a story on my hometown Athens for ASPESI I immediately thought which side of the city is the one I want to portray. I always thought Athens is a city with one foot still in the past, and the other one moving ahead fast"
It’s a city of contradiction, an heteroklito. I also tend to think Athens was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons in recent years, portrayed as a city which is like Berlin, a place for cheap artists’ studios and fun nights. I believe my beloved city is so much more than this. It’s decadent in a way so appealing it’s charming. It is yet to be discovered, an unknown city as I like to call it, an imaginary place far out of the Airbnb transfers and the sound of trolley bags on the pebble streets.
Athens is a relic a living museum. Every inch of the ground is scared, everywhere you dig you will find grains of time, in a form of a head, a broken arm, a shiny coin. I like to eat on the square of Kerameikos, just a few meters above what was the cemetery of Athens and the neighborhood of the ceramists that gave the name to the area. When researching for the article I watched again the documentary ‘’Agelastos Petra’’ about the city of Eleusina, home to the most sacred of all ancient mysteries for Greeks, the Eleusinian Mysteries. Its ancient walls are laying bare under the sun collecting dust for centuries next to the side curve, while cars speed up on the highway towards Peloponese for the summer holidays. The faces I thought to portray still carry the same features as our ancestors.
Georgia our main face like a figure on an Attican pottery. Zachos Varfis the owner and designer of Latraac could be one of the soldiers of Agamemnon. Katerina Pananikolopoulos the founder of Athens Design Forum looks like the marble statues decorating the Acropolis with her prominent Greek nose and lock of golden hair on her shoulders. Evangelia that explores the rich Greek soil for the best herbs reaching worldwide cuisines with her ‘’archaic’’ Daphnis and Chloe venture. Andreas Melas with his work on Martinos Gallery is marrying the past with the present. Or Yannis Dedes that after years of living abroad decided to reconnect with his hometown, living in the centre of Athens on charming terrace that overlooks the neoclassical skyline of the city’s historical core. These Greeks are the future, the ones that make a difference with their work. I always thought Athens would move forward only by looking always at its past. And with foreigners moving in the city this change is more prominent. People Adele Faruzzi from Milan who works at Carwan gallery by the historic port of Piraeus, an area with immense potential that carries a heavy cultural background. Athina Delyannis named after the protector god of Athens, half French and half Greek from the shores of Mani is changing the map of performance dance in Athens with her work in the Swiss Foundation Flux.
Even people like Swedish born Martin Vigren, who chose Athens as a second home and loved it like their birthplace are bringing a gush a fresh air in town. Ion Constas, a Greek born in Egypt with his finesse and international lifestyle is one of the founders of Radio Athenes one of Athens most significant cultural spaces.
For our last meeting, to mark the ending of this beautiful collaboration, I thought the most appropriate place would be the taverna Margaro an institution of a working class neighbourhood of Piraeus that has been frying shrimps for 70 years now. Watching the sun set next to walls of the the Navy Academy of Greece is the most suitable farewell to this city that is more relevant now then ever.