“A Study on Trauma, Memory and Loss: Greek Jews Holocaust Survivors”, Agathi-Κartάλος art gallery, Athens (held by the Athens Photo Festival 2015, 18-26/6/2015).

“A Study on Trauma, Memory and Loss: Greek Jews Holocaust Survivors”, Agathi-Κartάλος art gallery, Athens (held by the Athens Photo Festival 2015, 18-26/6/2015).

The subjects of these photographic portraits, ranging from 89 to 104 years old, are permeated with a dynamic silence. Their existence springs forth as physical beings on journeys into the deep grooves of their tragic yet recent historical destiny, having this cryptic, ambiguous, inescapably defining relationship of repulsion and legality. It is a valve which opens and closes.

For Artemis Alcalay, every meeting was a personal immersion, as well as an opening, each time into a different world. She came face to face with these heroic everyday figures who bear the number of the camps on their arms, a grey-green stain, “a scar that draws attention to the trauma and activates memory”.

For Artemis Alcalay, her yearning to meet Greek Jews Holocaust Survivors combined with a desire to expand the theme that has propelled her over the last few years as an artistic creator: namely a study on the ‘home’, the house, the human habitat, memory, loss, trauma and healing.

The soothing effect of the shape, presence and symbolism of the toy-like little ‘house’ reconfigured the codes of stereotypical communication and led to a series of portrait-allegories focused on the meaning of geography, family and spiritual ‘home’.

For Artemis Alcalay, the important thing is to expose the psychic landscape and uniqueness of each person in an interactive manner that may extend, communicate and invite reflection even beyond Jewish identity, addressing the human condition and the need for a path towards happiness or oblivion.

Today, these sweet figures connect us not only with the past but with something beyond time and history. They create a huge family portrait in which we are all reflected.

Nikos Vatopoulos