Little left to lose

Angelos Tzortzinis

2011 - Ongoing

It brought to mind memories from my childhood, I spent the biggest part of my life growing up alone in a poor neighbourhood of Athens. I remember my self trying to find away out of my daily life, but it was difficult. In my neighbourhood we have had crisis ever since I remember myself. I remember people waiting in queues to receive food from churches, anxiously expecting the end of the month to receive their salary in order to cover their basic needs and at the same time struggling to live their family with dignity. What was everyday news for some people it was my reality.

Greece has gone bankrupt five times so far, in 1827, in 1843, in 1893, in 1832 and 2010 when the financial crisis in Greece burst out. The social fabric has been ripped apart by austerity, imposed by successive governments in return for loans by the European Union and International Monetary Fund that saved Greece from bankruptcy. My world did not change to a great extent but many Greeks have had their wages and pensions cut, while taxes and unemployment soar. The middle class has collapsed under pressure and the poor have become poorer. Unemployment - the highest in Europe - has forced the country's brightest minds to emigrate. Hundreds of businesses have shut and merchants face a financial dead-end as Greeks struggle to afford even their basic needs. Elsewhere, "Sisa," a cheap new drug known as the "cocaine of the poor" has conquered dark narrow streets. Prostitutes, desperate for cash and drugs, charge just 5 euros for sex. HIV and Hepatitis cases have risen throughout the years of the financial crisis. However, Greek governments kept ignoring the problems.

It has been almost 10 years of crisis. Today, looking back at the past and trying to understand what exactly has happened during all those years and I myself being a side effect of this crisis without any kind of health insurance, I can sympathise with the people who try to survive with dignity and self-respect in these difficult times.

My intention of this body of work is for the next generations to learn what happened the last ten years in my country via my experiences.

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  • A self portrait above the center of Athens on 26, on December 26, 2014.

  • A street scene of central Athens during clashes between demonstrators and riot police, on June 15, 2011.

  • Greece's Golden Dawn extreme right party leader Nikos Michaloliakos delivers a speech during a rally in central Athens on February 2, 2013. Greece's worst economic crisis since World War Two proved fertile ground for anti-immigrant sentiment and the rise of the ultranationalist party which was propelled from obscurity into parliament for the first time in 2012.

  • An employee of the state-owned Labour Housing Organisation (OEK) threatens to jump off the company building in Athens after the government decided to shut down the organisation and lay off its staff on February 15, 2012. Suicides rose sharply during Greece's financial crisis with hundreds driven to the desperate act.

  • An alleyway near the central Athens square of Omonoia on November 13, 2012. As Greece's economic crisis deepened, Omonia and other central neighborhoods drew an increasingly large number of poor Greeks, drug dealers and addicts.

  • Adriana, a prostitute who charges 5 euros for sex, lays on a hotel bed in Athens after escaping a large police raid earlier that day on April 22, 2013. Adriana, who is pregnant, prostitutes herself daily. At the height of Greece's economic crisis, a new drug named "Sisa" emerged in central Athens neighborhoods. Known as the "drug of the poor," it costs 5 euros per dose and consists of barbiturates and other ingredients like alcohol, chlorine or even battery fluids.

  • This picture taken on November 30, 2013 shows, Lavarz-Hercules cement plant, one of the biggest in Greece, now it is closed and hundred workers lost their job.

  • Clothes are packed in a car which serves as shelter for a homeless man under a bridge in a ghetto area in Athens.

  • Dinos sleeps in the living-room of his house under the light of a candle at the impoverished Perama district near Athens on September 20, 2013. Dinos and his mother lived in a small house without electricity for at least six months. Thousands of poor Greek families cannot afford electricity, one of the many effects of harsh austerity measures that led Greece deep into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

  • The area where the Eldorado Gold mining company begun the construction of a gold mine at the region of Skouries in Halkidiki, northern Greece on October 29, 2012. The citizens of the region continue their struggle against the construction of the mine. The company exploits the situation in Greece for investments.

  • The baby of Adriana, a prostitute and drug addict, is seen after being born on March 12, 2014. During Greece's financial crisis many babies were abandonded in hospitals for months as their parents could not afford to look after them.

  • Part of the PPC factory premises in Ptolemaida, Northern Greece on September 28, 2018. The probability of privatization of 40% of PPC's lignite units is at the heart of the political conflict over the crisis. In case this happens some of the consequences will include salary cuts and dismissals of employees.

  • This photo taken on July 24, 2018 show cars burnt following a wildfire at the village of Mati, Greece. The Greek government is heavily criticised for its management of the deadly fires that destroyed, end of July, a seaside region on the east of Athens, and that killed 99 people. During the Greek crisis, Greek governments neglected to take adequate preventative measures for forrest fires.

  • Unfinished blocks of flats erected on a piece of land in Nea Politeia, Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. Most were erected on land that was given as consideration for 2004-2009, but the crisis froze the real estate market. Many remained unfinished, while many landlords panicked and rushed to sell them up to half the price sold by contractors.

  • The representative of the association informs the employees about the progress of their legal actions concerning their accruals, on September 28, 2018. The employees of the Euromedica Group Hospital have been in a permanent labyrinth for 7 consecutive years without any way out. According to the association's representative every 45 days "our company gives us 200-250 euros". In those years, they have experienced what could be imagined, from wage cuts, rights deductions, labor intensification, fear of unemployment when they justifiably demand their accruals.

  • A former Greek night club in Vatero village near Kozani, North Greece, on September 29, 2018, which was used for entertainment by local people. It is a copy of the building of the National Opera of Sydney but it was closed down due to the financial crisis. As a result, similar businesses in the countryside have closed down.

  • A dog wandering by one of the Prespes Lake on September 30, 2018. The foreign ministers of Greece and North Macedonia on June 17, 2018 in Prespes, signed a historic preliminary accord to end a 27-year bilateral row by renaming the small Balkan nation the Republic of North Macedonia.

  • Kostas, an 82-year old pensioner who helps his children with the breeding of sheep in Lehovo, Florina on September 29, 2018, has been through dramatic reduction in his pension. Similarly, all pensioners have been through great cutbacks in their old age pension.

  • Refugees from Iraq playing volleyball at the refugee camp in Serres, Northern Greece, on September 30, 2018. A quite big number of refugees are still remaining in camps all around Greece.

  • A part of the former ceramic factory Vio.Me in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece, on September 26, 2018. Just two years after the start of the crisis, Greece's oldest and largest ceramics company has gone bankrupt. Former employees were not paid their wages, they occupied the factory and managed it from then on. Instead of making ceramic chemistry tiles for the parent company Philkeram Johnson, as they did before, they now produce, among other things, ecological soap, which is distributed around the world.

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