Large demonstrations in Athens since 2010, police repression, violence and irrational use of tear gas, 3500 suicides, massive unemployment (26%) and unpaid work - two out of three young people are unemployed, abolition of health structures in the public sector, closure of units for the mentally ill, hundreds of pawnshops mushrooming all over the country, a huge increase in drug addicts, prostitution, homeless people and people who found themselves on the streets, continuous strikes – all these are the consequences of the economic crisis in Greece.
This crisis is not just a financial one. It is a systemic crisis with multiple dimensions;
political, social and cultural ones. It is in fact a historical breakthrough and all options for the future are open. The country actually lives in war conditions.
I have been reading about WeimarRepublic in Germany in the 1920s, the financial crash of 1929 in America, the oil crisis of the 70's. Now, in Greece, history seems to repeat itself with variations.
Half of my friends are unemployed. My parents kept warm with a little stove as they couldn’t afford heating oil this year. My father, in a poor health condition, will soon complete 50 years of work, most of them spent in two jobs. My sister emigrated after having been unemployed. An elderly man I met in the centre of Athens sold his gold teeth for a few euros. In my neighbourhood workers in one of the largest steel mill of the country went on strike for 272 days after the dismissal of 110 colleagues and a 50% pay cut.
I have travelled and seen countries full of misery, poverty and violence, I have been always moved, but I couldn’t really empathize. In Egypt, where I travelled in 2009, youth unemployment was 90%. In Greece youth unemployment has now reached 65%.
It all begins from my surroundings and ends up on me. Burnout has to do with my own crisis too, I do know it is a part of my life deeply experiential that started four years ago, but I still do not know when and how it will end.
Dimitris Michalakis was born in 1977 in Elefsina, Greece. He studied photography at the Focus School of Photography in Athens. Since 2004 he has been a regular contributor to K Magazine, (Kathimerini Sunday edition), and the E Magazine (Eleytherotypia Sunday edition). His photographs have been published in various Greek and international publications (Spiegel, Die Zeit, Rolling Stones Magazine). He has traveled on journalistic missions to more than 30 countries, mainly in ex-Soviet Countries.