Contrast / Αντίθεση: φεστιβάλ φωτογραφίας Θεσσαλονίκης




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A photographic itinerary on Mount Athos, 1969-2001

Costas Balafas

Organized by the Benaki Museum’s Photographic Archive

In collaboration with the Cultural Center of Municipality of Thessaloniki  

1 – 31 December

Costas Balafas visited Mount Athos on a number of occasions between 1969 and 2001 with the purpose of forming his own testimony in photographs to the place and its people. In the eyes of the artist, the imposing works of monastic architecture bring to life the greatness of Byzantium , while the life of the monks. With its special organization, the same through the passage of time recalls to his memory their contribution to the struggles of the Nation. Here tradition, from which -as Balafas himself stresses- the Greek people draw strength when they lose their way - remains still unalloyed. Here the ‘myth of Greekness’, which runs through all his work, remains alive.

During his journeying on Athos, as in the rest of his work, his main interest centre on man. His intention is “to get under the skin of the monks” and to follow them during the liturgy, the cultivation of the land and in their lowly allotted tasks.

The Athonite photographs of Costas Balafas complement the picture of his Greece , the broad public becomes familiar with the quality of his angle of vision and a channel for shared experience and collective memory is liberated.

Fani Constantinou


Costas Balafas was born in the mountain village Hosepsi , Epirus , in 1917. He was introduced to photography in Ioannina, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two. From 1940 to 1944, he photographed Epirote resistance to the occupying forces; however, the political situation meant these photographs would not be publically exhibited for almost forty years. After the war, he worked for the Public Power Corporation in its Design Reproduction Department until his retirement. He was a founding member of the Hellenic Photographic Society. He began travelling Greece in 1952, photographing and filming the traditional customs and way of life in the provinces which technological developments and the passage of time would soon consign to history. His photographs have appeared in many solo and group exhibitions in Greece and abroad, and been published in exhibition catalogues and monographs.
















Benaki Museum’s Photographic Archive