« Tu ne sais pas que tu es l’épouse du victorieux Jupiter.
Cesse tes sanglots, apprends à bien porter ta haute fortune.
Une part du monde prendra ton nom »
(Vénus à Europa – Horace, Odes, Livre II).
Founding myths, Ulysses and Penelope, the ravages of the tourist economy, the presence of Chinese dynasties, economic depression, the mistrust of European powers, historically ruling families, ancient arts, marble, gold and onyx, cinema, civilisation, revolts, abandonment, desolation, the olive and the vine, the closing of universities, the violence of reverses of fortune, corruption, marine geography, migrants, youth, beauty … We got on a plane at the end of May. None of us had ever been to Greece. We were going to spend a fortnight there.
In a heavy climate of austerity and after years of bad solutions, where does artisanal production stand in todays Greece? Has the country preserved its own means of production? What are the commercial channels in place? Where is the past and where is the future?
We walked the devastated streets of Athens, sailed to the most isolated Cyclades, passed the screens of tourists, drove toward Mount Parnassus, drank raki on shady terraces, swam in the Mediterranean, visited frankly impoverished museums, slept on boat decks, ate mulberries and wiped down dust from moribund workshops. We saw the concrete structures of unfinished building sites, freezing cats in virtually abandoned villages, the queues of scooters and motorcycles, the open bows of ferries, the hordes of half-naked tourists, the trendy neighbourhoods and the cocktail bars on the terraces of international hotels, the sea of olive trees, gardens, flowers and fruits. We searched.
This trip was an odyssey. Harrowing and informative.
We kept the secret of a hidden paradise to ourselves, the taste of a honey-coloured house wine, the morning light, broad smiles, the example of a family life that has found what is essential, the sweet sadness of a song, the shining example of an old lady who gives to others what she does not have. With humour.
Notes for later :
– « A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it » (George A. Moore, 1912)
– the public transport service no longer provides links to certain islands
– « siga siga »
– Συ μου χάραξες πορεία
– « A small boat fishing between Paros and Naxos interests me incomparably more than a new revolution, a new fashion or a new aesthetic in Europe, a new machine in America, a new mystic in Asia. Serenity!» (Yórgos Theotokás, Argo, 1936)
– The sky is clearer above the sea
– « super »
– « We know the next two generations have been sacrificed »
– « You will understand when you get younger » (Michel Berger)
– They don’t produce enough locally to feed the tourists
– The belly button of the world
– made in China
– « It’s not down on any map / True places never are » (Moby Dick, Herman Melville – quoted by Bob Dylan, Nobel speech, June 2017)
– « The Odyssey is a strange, adventurous tale of a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war. He’s on that long journey home (…) He’s cursed to wander. He’s always getting carried out to sea (…) And when it’s all said and done, when he’s home at last, he sits with his wife, and he tells her the stories » (Bob Dylan, Nobel prize speech, June 2017)
– The sale of the port of Pirée to the Chinese ship owner Cosco Shipping Corporation
Joanna Dunis, Ariane Garnier, Rania Athanasoulia, Sandrine Cheyrol, Jean Lloveras
Manufacturers : APOSTOLIDIS KOUKOS SPIROS SIFNOS STONEWARE