2019 - Ongoing
Athens, Attica, Greece
“Prosfygika” is the largest residential squat in Europe located in Athens, Greece. The squat is run by an anarchist collective, for over 10 years, and functions following the rules of direct democracy.
The listed Bauhaus complex of “Prosfygika” consists of 8 buildings with 228 apartments, originally built to house Greek refugees from Turkey after World War I, was abandoned by the state almost 20 years ago, condemning it to a slow death. Since the financial and refugee crisis erupted in Greece in early 2010, these empty derelict buildings have been revived. Over 500 people from 30 different nationalities have found shelter in what is the largest residential squat in Europe. The new inhabitants’ need for companionship and solidarity gave birth to a vibrant community that steps out of the norm and experiments with direct democracy. In this multicultural and diverse micro-society everybody has a fair share of access in all the essentials such as, food, electricity, housing as well as an equal place in the assembly, where they can express their ideas and opinions. But the outside reality is harsh. The community of “Prosfygika” has to face everyday the fear of eviction. Under its “law and order” agenda the current government imposes harsh repression measures and police brutality, clearing over 80 residential squats throughout the country this year alone. “Prosfygika” due to its position, between the Greek Supreme Court and the General Police Directorate of Attica, is considered one of the best pieces of real estate in the heart of Athens, and the conservative, right wing government already has the plan for its “gentrification”. In these times the community’s fear of eviction is evoking a plan for resistance.
This photo series explores the squatters’ connection with the historical block of buildings “Prosfygika”, a connection of vital importance for both sides. Mistreated, traumatised, and forgotten, buildings and people would share similar fates, but, still standing they make this place a neighbourhood, and the community their home, their refuge.
The photographic series “The Refuge” by Nikos Pilos, is part of the web-based, multimedia project “The Refuge” (https://www.therefuge.eu/) which combines short documentaries in episodes, a full documentary, photos, sound material and texts that explore the stories of this unlikely group of people and their life in their unique community in “Prosfygika” the largest residential squat in Europe, based in the heart of Athens, Greece.