75 lives were lost during the fires in the summer of 2007 in Hellas. A million acres turned into charcoal, 600.000 was forest, and 320.000 rural ground. 70% were olive productions. More than 4000 buildings burnt down, about 2000 were houses. 3000 rural instruments and machines, 300 stables. 25.000 sheep and goats burned.
An undeclared war which lasted for three months. The government failed to defend and organize the country leading its land and forests to burn without barriers. People were helpless, disorganized and unprepared to encounter the catastrophe.
Endless moments of agony in the news about this mass destruction. The state officials could not handle the fires and the politicians hid under undignified excuses. The victims cried for help in the void of a television camera. The last fire ended in mid September. In October we had elections that promised for reconstructions but these were never realized and the new government did not find any ways to solve the various problems, instead abandoned any attempts very early.
I visited Peloponnesus in November of 2007 until May of 2008. Its wider region is of particular significance due to Ancient Olympia and the spirit that symbolizes it. The Olympic Games took place in Athens in 2004 honoring the monumental place and returning to its origin. In 2007 3/4 of the forest of this ancient landscape was burnt.
It was midnight when I arrived in Ancient Olympia, I stopped underneath Kronios hill, there was a deep silence, I heard nothing. The burnt trees had been cut down, reforestation was being prepared specially for the ceremony of the Olympic Flame for the Olympic Games in 2008. There was no sign of life, no sound other than my breath, I felt as if in a locked empty room. The smell was of wet burnt wood, the ground soft and thin.
Catastrophe is a zero point of being. I followed a route across the burnt land searching for the development of the remaining life.
Q&A with Panayiotis Lamprou
Through photography we perceive perpetually moments for qualitative viewing. It describes our relationship with the present and explains the value of memory as the distance between presence and ignorance.
Photography and writing…
1- What is normal? 0- Normal is the expression.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
I synthesize my images measuring through influences of Josef Sudek, Walker Evans, Eugene Atget, Diane Arbus and Guido Guidi.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a unique synthesis of time and space / I express a one and only speech of existence / But what I do is not more important than a leaf of a tree my friend / And as a leaf I breath in the glory / of being and of feeling matter”.
If logic can not explain well the world we see / then poetry might say a word to relieve.
Panayiotis Lamprou (www.panayiotislamprou.com), born in Athens in 1975. His work reflects personal, social and creative concerns, always with the same working approach, at the level of vision. He persists dialectically, that the photographer’s way of viewing is the quality reference of visual language. The variety of the photographer’s themes connects at this point with the dramatic representations of life.
It is realized that the visual arts are expressed with criterion the harmonious management of proportions of systems that they evolve. The visual art reality is tangible and involves qualitative reasonable approaches in order to create a new reading in matter.