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The everlasting crisis: Representing the contemporary Athenian cityscape

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Crisis recontextualized numerous visual projects, regardless of their authors’ intentions or their initial context of production. Eventually framing our perception of visual production, including the photographic, crisis can now be detected even within pictures and visual narratives which diligently avoid depicting it, or reflect it at a tangent. Expanding on this perception, in this visual essay I will discuss a mode of photographic documentation and interpretation of the Greek crisis in which urban space engages with the recent sociopolitical situation, albeit not always in a straightforward manner. In the first part, I briefly discuss the current context of photography output in Greece, focusing on photographers who made urban space central to their exploration of recent conditions. What many of them share, I argue, is an interest in the commonplace, an aspect of urban landscape which used to be dismissed as insignificant and without interest. I then focus on Nikos Panayotopoulos’s research project Terra Cognita, which I examine as a trailblazing example of this trend. Thoroughly documenting Athens from early 2000 until the end of 2008, namely the period before, during and after the so-called ‘glory days’ of the 2004 Olympics, and portraying a landscape already in decline, this project came to suggest that crisis was here long before we recognized it as such.
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Keywords: Athens; Greek crisis; contemporary Greek photography; culturescapes; documentary photography; urban landscape

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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