In the mid-70s I started spending my summer holidays in Aghios Syllas, near the city of Heraklion, on the island of Crete. Eventually, about 20 years ago, I moved along with my wife from Switzerland and settled in the village. As I have been a photographer all of my life, my interaction with the locals, inevitably, took on a documentary approach. Since 1985, I have been photographing in color the people in their work and their daily life, using a medium format camera and a 35mm one. Those photographs have been exhibited in Athens, Switzerland, and the USA, but never in the place where they were taken, that is Aghios Syllas. On the occasion of the opening of a cafe, I was asked to organize a small exhibition there, comprised of photos from the village.
In this small cafe, the locals themselves could see exhibited portraits of a younger self, pictures of relatives and friends, people who may have passed away, and others with who might had tense relations. Although all the residents were familiar with my work (I am also a resident of this village), I knew that exhibiting in the same place that has been the source of your images is challenging. Your audience there has an experiential relationship with the photos and will “read” them in a predetermined way, free from any exoticism. What was laid on the walls was, for the residents of Aghios Syllas, a fragmented but lively diary of their society. A society, that although it experiences slow changes over the years, has a full sense of the changes brought by time. This process inevitably creates for the photographer a new context to showcase his images to the viewer. This photographic work is not intended to be presented as a recent historical archive of this small provincial area of Greece, but rather as a photographic record that maintains a dynamic relationship with the society it recorded.
All images © Charles Weber
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