People of the Sea

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People of the Sea

I found myself in the fishing boats 5 years ago. You see, I was born in an Greek island, so the fishermen were an integral part of my childhood memories. For me they were the travellers, the people that leave the safe space of the land and lose themselves in the open sea. They were the distant creatures that remained silent for hours, untangling their nets. I’ve been documenting my moments with fishermen for more than five years now throughout the Mediterranean Sea, in nine different countries. Every time the boat left the land, a new journey was starting, a new world was revealed to me.

Like peddlers of the oceans, away from the references of the land, the people of the sea were sending signals that helped me drift away into a strange, mystical land. A man’s land in which I confronted feelings that haunted for me a long time. A free diving into a dark, symbolic world that I didn’t know how to approach. Following my mind’s ambitions I was translating what I was living instead of just living. I was trapped between the reality I knew, where things had a point of reference, and the reality of the sea that has no memory. Each time I used the tools I knew, I ended up with a replica of reality. Each time I had to choose, I ended up with the same self. I wanted to get rid of everything I knew, to respond instead of choosing, to scream instead of explaining, to live instead of photographing. But I didn’t know how to get to that place, so I kept pushing my photographic research further. Photographing became a quest for this land. An attempt to trick reality and create a passage to a different reality in which the hidden impressions lie, as Proust says. Being in that place you recognize the presence and then it becomes a burden that you have to get rid of. My destination land was becoming my prison. So I kept photographing to forget that there isn’t such a place called homeland. I kept photographing my doubts. I had only my doubts to hold on to. They were saving me from my convictions, from my hypocrisy to explain. Sooner or later though my doubts were transformed into convictions. And I had nothing left. So I kept pushing my photography further. Sometimes I mulled over it all. Like an animal that was protecting its own territory, I didn’t want to abandon my illusionary space. I wanted to feel secure, I wanted to have the feeling that I found something, that I made it. But that didn’t work out either. I had to get inside their boats again; I had to let myself adrift with them. People of the sea were guiding me in this mystified land inside me. Every journey with them was a clumsy attempt to find a passage to this land. People of the sea were hiding inside me, obscure creatures forcing themselves out of my body, craving for presence, my own lost voices shouting for the right to be heard. I cannot recognize their faces yet. Maybe they become clear in my next journey.