SOCIETY

Portrait of a community of Greeks in Belgium

Home, as a concept, is such a simple thing that emerges through such a complicated process. For example, think about how much of Greece there can be in one European country. More specifically in Belgium, where there is a community of 35,000 Greeks, who settled there in the 1950s.

A selection of 100 members of this community is the focus of a recent publication, ?Daydreaming: A Hundred Greeks in Belgium Dream of Greece? (Fata Morgana Publications), in Greek, English, French, Flemish and German. One hundred portraits and stories, shot and compiled by Spyros Paloukis, present an attractive sociological study on a community by taking a cross section representing different ages and social backgrounds.

Paloukis (born 1980) is intrigued by the dialectical relationship between the written word and the image. In fact, this was the focus of his postgraduate degree in American studies at the University of Antwerp, where he also developed his own cosmopolitan idiom of patriotism. In his previous coffee-table book, which was dedicated to the northern Greek region of Edessa, he juxtaposed the land with its people. In this new book he takes a more direct approach: ?With every person I came across,? he said, ?I tried to handle the situation as though it were the first portrait of a hundred, or, rather, as though it were the only portrait I would be taking, as though the ?weapon? I held in my hand had only one bullet in its chamber. I walked into every meeting with love and enthusiasm, giving my absolute attention to each individual subject I was photographing.?

This personal touch allowed him to collect his subjects? thoughts, dreams, fantasies and memories. Like colored tiles, the narratives of these diverse individuals when put together become a mosaic revealing a certain behavior and creating a record of the journey taken by the Greeks of Belgium.

The portraits are shot in locations that are personal to the subjects, in the style of August Sander, who receives a special mention from the Greek artist.