EYES OF TRUTH | An Athens Group Action (Inside Out Project)
When I started to plan my course of actions to fulfill the requirements of this project, everything seemed simple, to the point. Nevertheless, the first difficulties arose first, in finding children within the 4-14 age bracket. Strolling along and suddenly asking parents with children in this group was not easy. They were suspicious, Greeks more than immigrants. They were very apprehensive even in sharing their time, thinking perhaps of issues such as child abuse, or my interest in them as an act of “muck raking” (exposing a social issue or problem). The few who gave me a chance to explain the project and its overall intention were still in doubt. For others, the idea sounded reasonable, but as soon as the participation of THEIR children was brought forth, they became disinterested. This reaction gave me the opportunity to observe, think and understand these people from a different point of view. Anything unfamiliar creates fear- lack of interest towards others may create mistrust- in times of trouble the “scapegoat” population increases and with it unfair judgment.
So when these ideas became more concrete, I decided to approach my potential models and their parents through people that already knew them. Mid-August is not the easiest time to go searching for children, when everybody is on vacation. Even Greeks who have immigrant friends were not available, thus the search became very difficult. The project has been completed thanks to this approach of association and reference. I did spend quality time with the people who allowed me to enter their homes or just met up with me. I tried to be as thorough as possible, making sure they had no questions about the project and its intent. Once my references had assured them of my good-natured intent, they were more at ease to share personal things with me. As the interaction became more personable, defense walls came down, while uncertainty gave way to pleasant talk and smirks. The atmosphere became even warmer when I shared my photos of their children with them.
By the time I had finished each of my twelve photo sessions, we all wanted to meet up again soon. The last two boys I photographed were from Afghanistan, aged six and nine. I was told that they had to sleep in parks because they could not find shelter. They were very friendly and allowed me to photograph their children without any hesitation. It took a while for me to do so, since I spent time trying to understand their situation. Their dream was to go to Germany and meet up with family, while their concern was how the two boys could attend school, which starts soon. I felt awkward, not knowing how to help. At the same time I knew I was privileged to be spending my time on this project instead of trying to find a place I can call home. The idea of this project becomes more important when in the photographs of these children that will be shown, joy, sincerity, love and caring really brings people together.