Words by photographer Enri Canaj:
“The centre of Athens, as I first remember it, was full of life. During the period before the Olympic Games, there was great development. New hotels appeared in order to host the visitors, shops, restaurants and cafes kept sprouting out, it was full of people everywhere. All this happened within a few years. It was as if the city put on new clothes. During the days of the Olympics, the city was clean and well-guarded. You would not see street-merchants, drug-addicts or immigrants, just tourists and people who came in order to have a good time. In my eyes, it looked like another place. As time passed, the city started deteriorating and gradually recovered its previous character. Time passes fast. The city is now fading. Some people abandon it due to the crisis. Many shops and hotels have shut down, the centre is now almost deserted. People fear they will get ripped-off, they hear that this happens all the time.They even fear seeing all the poverty and destitution, they drug-users who will rip you off for their shot, the women prostituting themselves. But for me, those people were always there. I found them all there when I first arrived as a 9-year old child. They were always there when I was growing up. They are somehow trapped in their lives. The immigrants live in small rooms that they rent, many of them together, without much hope. The women prostitute themselves even in the streets for 5€. Yet, hanging around with them has been my daily routine. This way, it was easier to approach them. They are sensitive people with a lot of problems, with ruined families behind them. Sometimes they give the impression that no one has cared for them. As if they want someone to talk to, as if they want to get out of the misery they are in. For some of them I had the sense that they were almost looking for someone to open up to and take it all out. Like confessing. What made an impression on me was that they often opened up and talked as if they knew me. I would only shoot when I sensed that they were more comfortable, after some time had passed. The images I have selected are stronger for me, because I know the story behind them.”
–So here it is, a selection from the series titled “Shadows in Greece”, by Enri Canaj.
Abandoned home, Athens.
Inside an old, abandoned building in a dangerous area.
This building houses families that are unemployed.
Kostas, his brother and sister.
Sidewalk behind Omonia Square, where drug users usually stay.
A man beaten up in the city center.
Xia is a drug user who has turned to prostitution to support her habit.
From the election in Greece. The Golden Dawn members which today are deputies in the Greek parliament.
Protest against the government at Sindagma Square, Athens.
Police at Sindagma Square.