Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Abandoned houses in Chios by Maya Fischer



                      House at street corner in Chios in 2007        @Maya K. Fischer


Whenever a Kids' Guernica exhibition and action takes place, as was the case in Chios, then multiple things take place. For instance, Maya Fischer did not only the photo documentation; she explored as well something unique in a city with a harbour. For as reminder of past glory and better times, there linger around in near-by back alleys many abandoned buildings. Time scratches on walls while doors and windows become linked to the open sky. This is especially the case once the roof is gone. What remains are more than merely abandoned houses. For there are stories to be guessed and be retrieved as to who lived there once upon a time.

Children do often adopt monuments as was already the case when the ERDF Article 10 CIED project took up work in Palmero. In the process of adaptation, children would conceive for every building different texts e.g. an architectural one to describe the features of the house, an engineer study to show what it would take to restore it while making sure the static was still alright, and then of course an imaginary one telling who used to live there.



Tragedy does unfold in often surreal ways. A photographer can capture these images often overlooked when merely passing by. It is a testimony of time. Once the bulldozers come, these artistic like ruins are erased as if the city wishes to be no longer remembered that there were different times when buildings gave shape to quite a different interface.



Photographing houses is like in painting resembling still life but with a major difference for the photos bring back to life something which are more than mere memories retained in faded paints on walls or what a door once experienced when people walk in or out of the house now but a shade of its former self. Remnants transport pieces of these evidences into the future.                                                                       

Abandoned houses always look forlorn, and yet they retain even in their broken state some sign of liveliness like a boy whose hair has been combed by the wind.






Here the wind whispers in open doors and windows what used to ears and eyes of the house now all left to weathering out times long by gone. Like shooting stars dreams of those houses are light years away from what would pass for life going in and out day by day. Fractured are the structures like broken ribs. Some temporary fixture makes just sure not everything falls apart. Paint fades away. There become visible structures long forgotten or not seen. Indeed they make evident how time itself paints on doors and walls as if the true canvas of a forgotten city.




Poets would hear voices and footsteps which echo in those corridors once the door has been opened to let memories enter. It is as if someone waits still upstairs, just as anxious as in the past, for not knowing who has entered the house means to be tossed like by the sea from hope to fear and back again. But once that door never closes again, something unsettling remains.




Now it will be a part of the story about all those abandoned houses on Chios. Stories will confirm that ghost after ghost returned. They sweep those abandoned houses like the tide and flood of the sea. It is a work being done with time. After a while it makes no longer any real difference if the imagination is located inside or outside. That means in the end nothing holds the house together, in order to provide some shelter. Once the roof is gone, no more protection can be given for those on the inside, whether now against the sun or rain. That indifference spills out onto the street for the house no longer cares to who goes there, passes by, looks up when just abreast to see if someone stands behind the curtain to take a peek if he will remember having seen her that last weekend when all were dancing in the main square? Then, something else struck home and many left for far away places. They ended up forgetting what their house back home looked like when it was still a liveable place and mother was ready with the food when they came back from school. Now the story is all barricaded up and silence reigns.




A tower still reaches into the sky but forlorn is what has been forsaken a long time ago.



Like a belt the barricade wards off any intruder who by definition must not disturb the abandoned house any further. It is an awkward stance when a safety zone is declared.






When towers fade away into the sky, what is there to say. It seems to suggest a kind of desparate shout: go away, go away! And don't come back! Divorces from reality begin sometimes with a trite quarrel but then the woman cannot take anymore and although she loves that man another law of life grips her. This esteemed self assertion is often a battle between senses and the search for the eternal. Although the latter does not exist, there is a kind of vindictive spirit evoked by a sense of not having been loved enough to make up for all the losses suffered along the way. This inner battle means a return to self esteem only when an uncompromising path is followed. That is why of relevance is the question the Greek poetess Katerina Anghelaki Rooke put during a discussion on Rhodes in 2011, and this in view of the mounting crisis in Greece, namely when is a compromise not something to be deplored, morally speaking, but in fact something which safeguards the continuity of life?










Finally, everything points in one direction: towards life! Therefore, it is important what lies ahead can be captured by light of a different kind. Since photographers work no longer in a dark room to transform negative into positive images due to use of the digital camera, it entails quite another sensibility when it comes to hold onto passing images, or fleeting moments for that matter. However, it depends still on observant eyes of the photographer who lets the objects speak in a way that it resonates with a poetic language. Here an example can be Gabriel Rosenstock writing Haiku poems for photos taken of landscapes painted in silence and reverence to nature. Still, the poetry in Chios is one of a different light, and in between shades speak as well another language.






Then, once inside, some strange objects can be discovered. These are then signs of a place still lived and worked in, but how to identify these objects when there is no knowing how they function?














Where abandoned houses reveal again their structures, also unused places exist in hidden corners. The poetess Paula Meehan called them the untamed places which every city needs to remind that once there was a much clearer ratio distinguishing nature from man-built environments.




 Photos by Maya Fischer

Text by Hatto Fischer

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