Called "City Streets," the exhibition features the works of young photographers living in Athens. The show, a project jointly developed by the British Council Greece and the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), is part of a two-year project aimed at depicting the changing face of Athens through the perspectives of the city's young residents. The exhibition features two kinds of photographs. The black-and-white photos were taken by 14 photographers from different cultures, while the color photos in the collection were taken by multicultural teams of 85 students from 10 high schools across Athens.
"The first group is guided by the prominent Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos. They did workshops with him for 14 months. They traveled around the streets of Athens taking pictures of life in the streets and keeping in mind the fact that Athens is a changing city," anthropologist Nadina Christopoulou, the project's consultant on migration issues, explained during an interview with Today's Zaman. "The other strand of the project took place in schools all over Athens with pupils 14-15 years old. We gave them digital cameras and told them to go around and photograph their lives," she further said.
The exhibition is thematic in a very broad sense, Christopoulou also noted. "We chose not to have descriptive labels. We did not put labels underneath the photographs explaining what each ceremony is or each event, because what we would like to communicate is a general sense of how the city is transforming and becoming a new multicultural and very dynamic, creative capital," she said, adding that they instead printed short excerpts from interviews with migrants or refugees who live in Athens. "We all believe that a photograph says more than words, and we thought this combination would be better."
Christopoulou said she believes Athens has a very peculiar element, one that they think is shared with İstanbul -- which explains why they wanted to have the exhibition here. "Athens is a city with a very long history and it has been a symbol in our minds, in the same way İstanbul has. Both cities have very long histories. What is a common element in the two despite all the difference is that they are both bridges; they are not places where migrants necessarily want to go and live. But they are bridges to the West, bridges to another kind of life. People from Asia and Africa want to move towards the West," she said, adding that what happens in these cities is a very creative tension, as the cities are "locations where the dreams of lots of people intersect."
"Regarding the photographs, what we tried to do was to dig inside people's life histories, to go inside their spaces, not just to have a superficial approach. We really guided the young photographers to invest time in these. Not just take a photo and leave, like journalists do most of the time, but to try to share things," said Christopoulou while explaining the photographic aspect of the show.
Economopoulos explained that all of his stories in the photographs he has taken throughout his career were socially sensitive. "In all my life I worked with this kind of people. Not only with immigrants but also with refugees and people who are suffering. I never worked with top models. I don't know that world and I don't care about that world. I care a lot about this world," he said.
"City Streets" will be on display at Santralistanbul's Gallery 1 until Oct. 30.