My photos about monuments are part of a wider project about suburbs, cities, Greek landscapes and ambitions. The title of the project is Open Kitchen (Broken Homes) and comments directly on architecture and urban planning in the Nineties. The idea came to me while I worked as a photographer for interior design magazines; I realized that contemporary houses of the average taste reflect in a direct way Greek society (and most particularly the wish of people of rural descent to appear urban, cosmopolitan). The same spirit invaded our cities: suburbs full of hutments, humble workers and narrow street were transformed abruptly into a neighborhood called “Manhattan”, using glass or patterns of ancient Greek architecture as connotations of power and success. I manipulate my photos in a way to imply the past and comment the present (a street cutting into two a modern living room, a wooden floor replacing the asphalted road etc).
The question of Athens as a metropolis emerged in a latest part of this project; the wish to create a western European city, the urge to appear modern was very significant to me. Athenians tent to forget real Athens (its mountains, the memory of water, climate conditions). They replace it by an imaginary average city with escalators, fountains, air conditioning. In my photos I use materials such as marble, glass, parquet and elements which imply comfort, wealth and a contact with nature (sofas, pools, rivers) to suggest how we wish to transform Athens, so as to be proud of it and show it to the others.
It is in this context that I was interested in archeological sites, most particularly in Parthenon. Monuments mark a city like Athens both historically and esthetically. I put some grass around Parthenon, I add escalators in front of the monument, or change the color of the marble into the black luxurious material, which is used now in suburbs to suggest abundance. By changing the use, the form or the esthetic patterns I imply the importance of safety and luxury in the contemporary world.
Another connotations is that archeological sites are strictly reserved to tourists. Modern greek identity is haunted by glorified past and a stereotype idea of ancient Greece. We still don’t perceive monuments as a part of the city we live in, or as an aesthetic value we may enjoy but rather as a non-place, dedicated to the tourist’s or the archeologist’s eye.