Dimitris Rapakousis’ (2012-2014) photographic journey across the small neighbourhoods around Acharnon Street at the peak of the financial crisis captured a vulnerable and vibrant social ecosystem, where residents of one of the most historic Athenian district coexist with marginalized people, mostly migrants arriving from all over the world. Red lights, makeshift mosques, worried elderly women, open markets, children’s choirs, nuns, drifters, form an urban fabric fluid and disordered, a bizarre microcosm in which people are seeking out for paths and ways of survival and coexistence, a process neither safe nor costless. In some images, a sense of dark anxiety is palpable, an existential seclusion that is filling the small rooms and alleys, a physical bareness that serves as metaphor for all that is left unprotected, having lost its place within the normalized, secure state of things. Similarly, the image from the inside of a meat freezer truck serves as a reminder of the rawness hovering above the area, without baubles or embellishments. In 1988 a, young then, and shy Tracy Chapman taking audiences by surprise as she burst onto the music scene, with her bittersweet music and lyrics, such as the following:
Across the lines
Who would dare to go
Under the bridge
Over the tracks
That separates whites from blacks.
In this sense, Dimitris Rapakousis’ photographic journey around Acharnon Street and Saint Panteleimon brings to mind the internal dividing lines, all too real despite being often invisible, with the lines drawn, as always, along divisions of race and class. Rapakousis’ work is an often stark social documentary drawn directly from the heart of the capital.