In 2016, drawn by the odor of Easter cookies, I ventured right into a small bakery within the village of Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. The proprietor, a lady named Kalliope, was carrying what seemed to me like a standard costume.
After chatting for a minute or two, I requested if she was dressed this fashion as a result of it was Easter.
“What do you imply?” she requested. “These are my garments.”
“You’re the one,” she added, “who’s wearing a European costume.”
Regardless of having grown up in Athens and traveled extensively all through Greece, I had by no means earlier than come throughout a group during which folks wore such conventional garments of their day-to-day lives.
But, removed from seeming performative, Kalliope’s garments seemed intrinsic to her village — way more so, as she recommended, than the garments I wore after I greeted her.
After my encounter in Olympos, I made a decision to make a mission of exploring the unseen corners of my nation — to fulfill the folks, find out about their conventional practices, and make pictures alongside the way in which that would provide a window into Greek tradition for others to look via.
4 and a half years later, on a sunny Sunday morning, I discovered myself within the village of Nea Vyssa, in Greece’s excessive northeastern nook, the place I had organized a two-day pictures session. I sat at one finish of a protracted desk, set amid an exquisite blossomed backyard, sipping Greek espresso and tasting the native delicacies.
As girls arrived to be photographed of their conventional apparel, I requested the president of the native cultural membership, Fani, to take me across the village to seek out acceptable spots the place I’d make the photographs. I normally discover locations which are deserted or simply on the point of being deserted, since typically such locations function customary structure, with none trendy additions or modifications.
To me, pictures is about way more than simply the photographs themselves. I’ve a ardour for rural Greece, and I get pleasure from exploring the idea of xenia, or hospitality — a central advantage that may be traced again to historical Greece.
Nikos Kazantzakis, a celebrated Greek author, describes in his fictionalized autobiography, “Report back to Greco,” how his grandfather would exit at nights, strolling across the darkish alleys of Crete, lantern in hand, to hunt for folks wandering the streets who had nowhere to spend the evening. He would deliver them to his residence, feed them and provide them a spot to sleep.
I’ve skilled a number of manifestations of this hospitality by myself journeys. For the previous 5 years, I’ve visited Tetralofo, a small village of round 300 folks in northern Greece, to doc the normal New Yr’s celebrations generally known as Kotsamania, or Momoeria.
Kotsamania is a theatrical ritual carried out every Christmas by native males who go to properties to want prosperity, abundance and happiness for the 12 months to come back. The entire group takes half within the celebrations, which contain road theater, dancing and the taking part in of conventional devices.
On one event in Tetralofo, whereas I used to be being hosted on the cultural membership, residents would arrive every day to deliver me home-cooked meals. Others — folks I’d by no means met — provided to host me of their homes. I felt proper at residence.
Many conventional occasions all through Greece are revivals of previous customs, carried out to assist the native financial system by drawing vacationers and a spotlight. Usually such occasions really feel kitsch and, in a manner, inauthentic.
Others, although, comparable to Kotsamania, have survived in unadulterated varieties and are carried out as real, integral elements of a group.
Finally, my work makes an attempt to focus on such customs: to current vivid, complicated depictions of fading traditions, and to assist us keep away from the pitfalls of monotony in our trendy lives.
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