Land, Interrupted by Anna Johansson Smith
I am travelling the outskirts of Athens, wondering … What a capital in a country on the brink of economic collapse should look like?
Being an outsider, I find myself searching for clues and traces of its immediate past and presence. On the surface much appear normal; people walk their dogs and swim in the sea. There are signs of poverty as well as wealth, just like in any other city. But there is also a sense of uncertainty, things being put on hold. I am subconsciously trying to connect the city’s present state with its ancient history and mythology, in order to create some kind of meaning. I discover what can perhaps be described as the city’s ‘modern ruins’ the faded legacy of the homecoming of the Olympic games keeps getting itself reminded.
Billboards along the road from the new airport, built for the 2004 Olympic Games, stand empty, like ghostly creatures among olive orchards, creating a strange and eerie sight.
Hellenikon – Athen’s old airport lays abandoned with planes still parked on the tarmac, weeds stubbornly pushing up through the concrete. The crisis seem to have frozen this place in time. Outside one of the airport buildings, stands an art installation of Icarus – a striking analogy of the current state of Greece.
Along the coast, the fence of the Olympic sailing venue is used by sunbathers to lock their chairs to. Down in Pireaus port, a man stops his car to hand over a bag of food in solidarity with a homeless man. Poseidon peeks out among the trees on a wall mural.
There is a distant and sporadic noise of containers being moved down the Greek port. A bit further along, at the now Chinese owned Cosco port, sold to the Chinese in order for the Greek state to repay of some its debt, there is a frenetic activity.
This series of images is an attempt to connect fragments of Athens recent history as well as transcend the lingering uncertainty of its future.