/ 23 October 2020

The Portfolio: George Tatakis

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An image from the Thrace chapter of a larger body of work titled Greek Tradition. Photo: George Tatakis/INSTITUTE

Greece is home to an abundance of local events that are bound to traditions and customs. Across the country a great variety of events take place, related either to different times in history or geographic origins. These events and the traditions around them are the focus of George Tatakis’s work.

In this work, the “other side” of Greece is revealed to us. It is the Greece of traditional culture, of every-day life and celebration, the creations of people of different genders, age and local identity. 

Even if the customs and rituals they depict sometimes seem strange, unusual, and even provocative, they are all vividly alive and highlight the wealth and diversity of traditional Greek culture as experienced by its own actors.

The photographer captures material culture, customs, values and practices and local traditions of rural, island and urban areas with empathy and a penetrating gaze.  The images prompt us to encounter and to reflect on the customary life of the groups that make up the country’s traditions.

The journey’s outcome shows that no matter how different the customs and traditions may seem, they share many similarities, even when a Dionysian custom is compared to a Christian one. This work attempts to depict the ability of people to become close through their differences, thus presenting a complex yet interesting approach that may help to avoid the danger of monotony in our modern lives.

Tatakis spent one month in Didimotichon, a town in Thrace, to make images of the local traditional costumes. “The project took more than expected, due to the richness of Thracian costumes and I will have to travel back in the following months, since I have to cover two more costume groups,” Tatakis says. 

“This is the first stop for my new photographic expedition for the project Caryatis, a study about the female traditional Greek costume. The purpose is to create images of all the available costumes around Greece.”

Thrace is a northeastern region in Greece. A good percentage of the inhabitants come from refugee families who came to Thrace from Turkey, during the population exchange after the Lausanne treaty. 

Many settlements were created because of that, such as Nea Vyssa (New Vyssa), which comes from the town of Vyssa, now in Turkey. 

Thrace has played a significant role in Greece history and culture since antiquity, and rejoices in its reputation for being the birthplace of Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, theatre and more. Institute