Friday, February 4, 2011

Images of the Greek Resistance: Photography exhibition

An exhibition of period photographs of the Greek Resistance by leading post-war photographer Kostas Balafas opens on February 11 at the Benaki Museum's Piraeus Street Annex in central Athens.

   For the first time, such a breadth of items -- 60 photographs of a total 2,000 negatives -- will be on display from the
life-long work of today's 90-year-old Balafas, which the photographer recently donated to the Benaki Museum.

    Kostas Balafas is one of the leading Greek exponents of humanist photography in the post-war period. The part of his oeuvre dedicated to ordinary working-class people and, particularly, to the inhabitants of isolated villages in Epirus, has been repeatedly publicised over the past 20 years through exhibitions and publications.

    As he personally enlisted in the 85th Regiment of ELAS (Greek Popular Liberation Army) in 1945, he recorded on camera the struggle of the people of Epirus against the invaders, well aware that he was recording historical moments for future generations. Using film stock that fell from the sky - literally, as it fell off an Italian bomber - he recorded villages destroyed, the plotting involved in the start of an armed struggle, the marches and battles of the resistance fighters, mourning mothers, as well as celebrations on the liberation of Ioannina.

    All this material remained hidden for 31 years under the wooden floor of a house in Ioannina. In 1991, the photographer himself edited and paid for the publication of the book Kostas Balafas. Antartiko - Guerrilla Warfare in Epirus, Black-and-white photographs 1940-1944. The exhibition presents the photographic series depicting Resistance in Epirus, which is held at the Benaki Museum, along with the rest of his oeuvre.

    To mark the exhibition, on February 27, 2011, there will be a one-day conference on: Photography during the Resistance years. Greece, 1941-1944.
    The exhibition will run through April 30.