Published in 'The Guardian Weekend', October 19, 2013
It’s not your typical wedding reception venue, but the warm glow of the petrol pumps, the sturdy dancefloor and the soft breeze from the Gulf of Corinth beat a soggy marquee in Surrey hands down.
And the view is tremendous: you can just see the spectacular Rio-Antirrio bridge, which links the Peloponnese to the Greek mainland, illuminated in the background.
Belgian photographer Nick Hannes stumbled on this forecourt last October while working on a larger project, documenting the modern Mediterranean (continuityofman.com). When he explained he was a photographer, the wedding party welcomed him in and plied him with drinks. He stayed until 3am. Although it was a happy occasion, the mood was tinged with anger, says Hannes, as guests voiced their frustration at Greece’s austerity measures in general, and with Angela Merkel in particular. The groom, Christos, had to hold the reception at his own petrol station to save money.
“In Greece, signs of the crisis are everywhere: food queues and demonstrations, empty shops and unmaintained parks,” Hannes says. “This felt like a different way of showing its impact. Even for Greece, it was a bit unusual, but no one complained.”
Earlier this month, six senior members of the far-right party, Golden Dawn, were arrested, including its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos. The crackdown followed the murder last month of the singer Pavlos Fyssas; the suspect in the killing has confessed to being a Golden Dawn supporter. Politicians have attributed Golden Dawn’s rise to the vicious cutbacks Greeks have been subjected to since the economic crisis began nearly four years ago. The cuts continue to bite. Greece’s international lenders are due to report back later this month on the size of a possible third bailout. Meanwhile, life – births, deaths and marriages – continues, albeit with a twist.
Overview of current and upcoming exhibitions and events in which I participate:
May 3-18, 2014: 'Red Journey' at the 18ième Biennale Internationale de l'Image in Nancy, France.
Summer 2014: Group show 'AIR/PORT', Antwerp, Belgium. Organized by Beauty Without Irony.Exhibition of artflags in Essaouira
November 2014: Launching of 'The Continuity of Man. A portrait of the Mediterranean region'
April 11 - June 2, 2013: Kaunas Photo Festival, M.Zilinskas Art Gallery of the National M.K.Ciurlionis Art museum, Kaunas, Lithuania. On display: 'Traditions in Flanders' (selection)
March 29 - May 15, 2013: Group show 'Bouteilles à la mer/Message in a bottle', Centre wallon d'art contemporain Châtaigneraie, Flémalle (B). Curated by Emmanuel D'Autreppe. On display: 'The Continuity of Man - a portrait of the Mediterranean region' (selection)
February 8 - April 24, 2011: Group show 'Finisterre. Jonge fotografie in België' at FotoMuseum Antwerpen. Curated by Inge Henneman, Rein Deslé and Luc Derycke.
May 30 - June 18, 2011: Exhibition 'Red Journey' at Flanders Center in Osaka, Japan.
June 1 - September 4, 2011: Group show 'In de marge. Belgian Documentary Photography', at Museum Dr. Guislain Ghent. Curated by Kaat De Jonghe
June 29 - September 25, 2011: Group show 'Beyond the Document' at Bozar Brussels. Curated by Xavier Canonne (Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi); Pool Andries (FotoMuseum Antwerpen); Frank Vanhaecke (BOZAR EXPO)
August 29, 2011: Screening of 'Traditions in Flanders' at Campo Santo, Visa Pour l'Image - Festival du Photojournalisme, Perpignan (FRA)
August 6 - 28, 2011: Group show 'Si loin, si proche - Biennale de Photographie en Condroz', Marchin (B)
April 2014: Malta (Projet Méditerranée)
May 2014: Israel + Palestinian Territories (Projet Méditerranée)
November 17 - 21, 2013: Turkey (assignment for 'De Standaard')
August - October 2013: France + Italy (Projet Méditerranée)
July 2013: Tanger, Morocco (assignment for 'Stern')
June 2013: Libya (Projet Méditerranée)
May 2013: Monaco (Projet Méditerranée)
April 29 - May 1 2013: Kaunas, Lithuania (Kaunas Photo Festival)
April 2013: Algeria (Projet Méditerranée)
January 2013: Hatay province, Turkey (Projet Méditerranée)
October 30 - November 6, 2012: Ituri, Congo (assignment)
August 15 - October 25, 2012: Greece and Turkey (Projet Méditerranée)
May 15 - May 22, 2012: Cannes, France (Projet Méditerranée)
April 1 - April 14, 2012: Istanbul, Turkey (Projet Méditerranée)
March 9 - March 16, 2012: Pune, India (assignment)
January 21 - February 7, 2012: Egypt (Projet Méditerranée)
December 29, 2011 - January 16, 2012: Tunesia (Projet Méditerranée)
August - October, 2011: Slovenia, Kroatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania (Projet Méditerranée)
May 31 - June 13, 2011: Osaka, Japan (Flanders Center - artist in residence)
April 13 - 26, 2011: Lebanon (Projet Méditerranée)
'Beeldruimte' is a new company, run by Lutgard Heyvaerts, that rents out photographic art works from Belgian photographers. 'Beeldruimte' mainly aims companies, but private people can rent works too. There is also a possibility to purchase the art works.
'Beeldruimte' has 10 photographs from my series 'Red Journey' available, and some older black and white panoramic photographs from Kurdistan and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Other photographers represented by 'Beeldruimte' are Jimmy Kets, Theo Beck, Nick Hannes, Gert Jochems, Debby Huysmans, Ilse Liekens, Marie Snauwaert and Filip Claus.
My photograph of the Greek gas station wedding won an Honorable Mention in the Editorial/Documentary - Single Image Category of the International Kontinent Photography Awards 2013.
The popular Russian crowdfunded public media Colta.ru published a selection from 'Red Journey' on its website.
From the site:
То, что было СССР
Бельгийский фотограф НИК ЭЙНЗ проехал по 15 бывшим республикам-сестрам, чтобы посмотреть, во что превратилась Атлантида под названием Советский Союз
'Stern' sent me to Tanger in Morocco last weekend, for a 24 hours-reportage about an African transit migrant on his way to Europe. The story of the Nigerian Winzo will be published along with 7 other reportages from individuals living in different countries along the shores of the Mediterranean.
'De Morgen' published a series of beach photographs from 'The Continuity of Man' last weekend:
"The Forbes 100, the Fortune 500, Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index... the list of rich lists is endless. We want to tell the story of The Other Hundred – those people who aren’t among the world’s rich, but whose lives deserve to be celebrated." (from 'The Other Hundred'-website)
'The Other Hundred' has released its list of the 100 winners of the open call. My photograph of the Greek gas station wedding has been selected for 'The Other Hundred'-photobook, that will be launched in late 2013. Over 11,000 images from 158 countries were submitted in the contest.
Statement on my submission: 'The Other Hundred' is a fierce statement against the capitalist doctrine and the power of the rich. I'm very happy this photograph is in. The Greeks I photographed at the gas station wedding party, urged me to show these photographs around, so the world could see they won't let themselves down. "We will keep on dancing and laughing, even when our last cent has been taken away", they told me. I was moved by their optimism. I fully understand their indignation. After all the so-called economical crisis only hits the common people, 'the other hundred'. There is enough wealth in our world. There just ain't no fair redistribution.'
De Standaard published a double page with my photographs of the Grand Prix F1 in Monaco last weekend. I didn't point my camera at the cars and their famous pilots, but concentrated on the mostly prosperous audience that shows up for the race.
My visit to Monaco fits in with my project about the Mediterranean region.
My photograph of the crisis wedding in a Greek fuel station in Patras has been awarded the Nikon Press Photo Award 2012. The price is a nice amount of photographic equipment, free to choose from the Nikon catalogue. A welcome support to continue my project about the Mediterranean region!