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The austerity effect

Athens, Greece – March 2013. Albrecht Durer’s famous work “Praying hands” was adapted by the artist Manolis Anastasakou with the name “He, is praying for us” and was created with the idea to change the prey of a man into prey of god for everything that has to do with the crisis in Greece. Greece, since 2009 is undergoing a period of heavy and deep economic crisis with its people experiencing probably the worst situation they have been found in after the IIWW.

The austerity effect, Socrates Baltagiannis

Greece, since 2009 is undergoing a period of heavy and deep economic crisis. In 2010, the then Greek government, turned for help to the EU and the IMF and the agreement on financial rescue packages to prevent the country from bankruptcy, was inextricably linked to severe austerity measures.

The inability of the governments so far to handle the crisis with substantial reforms, have resulted in more economic rescue packages and in more austerity measures. But the most important thing is that it has managed to make Greek people experiencing probably the worst situation they have been found in after the IIWW.
Twenty percent of the Greek population now lives below the poverty line, the middle class is almost extinct due to the high taxation, unemployment hits record levels with that of young people (15-24) to reach 60%. In 2011, according to the NGO “KLIMAKA”, occurred the largest number of suicides (477) for the last 50 years in Greece and the number of homelessness has greatly increased over the last three years, reaching unprecedented levels when speaking of a country with one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world (71%). Adding the migration problem, layoffs in the public sector, closed shops, and a welfare state which is now nonexistent, someone can easily understand why in central Athens, have been occurred some of the most massive demonstrations which often ending with violent clashes with the police.
Athens amid crisis is a city dull and miserable and for someone who knew Athens or who had visited the city before, walking on it’s streets again will see that is no longer the same city he used to know.

Athens, Greece – September 2011. Due to increased austerity measures taken by recent governments in Greece, protests in Athens and other major cities of the country are almost a daily phenomenon.

Athens, Greece – June 2011. Riot police at Syntagma Square. Powerful police forces fill the streets of Athens during the major demonstrations where most of the times are ending under the brutal repression of riot police and the extensive use of chemicals.

Athens, Greece – October 2011. The destroyed facade of the mall “Attica”, aftermath of the wild clashes between demonstrators and riot police during a 48 hour strike in Athens.

Athens, Greece – February 2013. Subsidized apartment blocks at Patisia, one of the class districts of Athens. The increased and by many people not fairly apportioned taxation, the lack of welfare state, the price increase in goods in connection with the rapid decrease in salaries and pensions as well as unemployment, have brought many families to the edge not being able to ensure even the highly necessary such as food and medical coverage.

Athens, Greece – March 2013. A man arranges clothes in a shop window in the center of Athens. The clothing trade was one of the first hit by the crisis in Greece, as the lack of liquidity in the market in connection with unemployment and the reduction in wages and pensions has resulted the purchase of clothing to be considered as a luxury by the average Greek.

Athens, Greece – March 2013. One of the groups that have been heavily hit by the economic crisis is the pensioners. The continuous reduction of pensions as well as the increased austerity measures have forced the majority of pensioners to live under the poverty line, often being unable to pay the bills as well as to ensure their daily food and their medical needs.

Athens, Greece – April 2013. Homeless are using the entrance of a closed store in Athens as a shelter. The number of homelessness in Greece has greatly increased over the last three years, reaching unprecedented levels when speaking of a country with one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world (71%).

Athens, Greece – July 2013. An old house near Perissos train station in Athens painted with the Greek cross flag. Uncertainty, anger and the willingness of the Greeks to punish the major parties in Greece has made more and more people turned to nationalism bringing the far-right party Golden Dawn in third place in the polls.

Athens, Greece – August 2012. Reduction of expenditure on public health from the Greek government and the Troika has brought the situation inside the Greek public hospitals to the brink. Doctors and nurses who have more than six months to be paid, empty shelves of raw materials like gauze, facilities that have been left at the mercy of time and wear, are just some of the problems that public hospitals are facing.

Athens, Greece – February 2014. People are waiting in line for a free grilled meat distribution in Athens central market, during the celebration of Fat Thursday. More and more people are gathered every day at Municipals soup kitchens since they can not affort their daily feeding. The Municipality of Athens has about 1400 daily food rations to people in need.

Athens, Greece – June 2013. A graffiti on the windows of a closed store in Athens that reads “wake up”.

Q&A with Socrates Baltagiannis

Photography is…
At the end it might be just a game with time and light, but a game with a tremendous impact in our society and our world.

Photography and writing…
A great combination. However, I still try to make it work!

Who left the biggest impression on you?
Apart of my family, life itself impresses me all the time… I don’t know… is that sound cliche?

Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Athens, Greece; a mad city that I love and where I still live in. I study and worked as a graphic designer for some time but photography won me for good. Other than that I am trying to make my name worthy of my ancestor Socrates the philosopher… just kidding…

Socrates-BaltagiannisSocrates Baltagiannis (http://www.socratesbaltagiannis.com) was born in Athens, Greece in 1979. Although photography was always in the back of his head, he studied and worked as a graphic designer until 2011. A self-taught photographer, in 2009 he began taking part in seminars and workshops on photography and photojournalism trying to expand his knowledge on the medium. Since then he has been working as a freelance photographer, mainly in the fields of photojournalism and documentary photography. Many of his images have been published in reputed and prominent newspapers and journals and he is collaborated with Invision-images photo agency.
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