THE SCHOOL PROJECT
Christophoros Doulgeris travels all over Greece collecting notes in his personal diary. The photographer’s notes are the thousands clicks of his camera. His diary doesn’t startby chance, from the plain need to keep a moment but from the need to select pieces and fragments of our collective grief. In a scheduled manner he has traversed Greece in its entirety. His work entertains the aim topreserve in life the remnants from schools, which once existed, but now remain void, without students and teachers, faltering in time. He captures the culture of the door, of a derelict building, of the abandonment of learning in the times of democracy.
I borrow the title ‘grief diary’ by Roland Barthes and his daily notes after the death of his mother, up to the point it ends up to the state, in which, we do not forget, yet a kind of languidness settles in inside us. Christophoros does research in order not to forget. He organizes a work of ethnological significance, in which there are no longer the bright buildings of the vivant student fuss but rather the silent ones, the buildings that have no other destination but abolition. The first school of Greece, Plato’s Academy defines our relationship with education, before the year 1873, when the first schools begin to get organized slowly and before 1921, when, solemnly and decisively, our educational system enters into the everyday life of Greeks. Hundredths of excellent buildings, architectural masterpieces humble schools in absolute oneness with their natural environment, remain inactive in the countryside mainly but not only there. Most of them were built during these heroic years of Delmouzos and Glynos, in periods of great expectations.
Christophoros Doulgeris tries to save them, salvaging at the same time that hope; During the times of endless discussions, full of terror-mongering in the discourse of politicians, economists, financial analysts or journalists of the new neoliberal attitude vis-a-vis the practical applications towards the less strong European countries, the concept of education is itself at times condemned. As if someone pressed ‘delete’ in a number of schools, in an amount of buildings bearing them, even on our thinking; the crisis of our education and culture, hand-to-hand with the economic crisis comment on the relation between the past and the present, as also the relation of the existing building with its space. Their common point: The absence of the human being. This specific work of his is consistent to his past, since, from the beginning, it gives a second and new life through art- with all its consequences- to towns and cities, buildings and objects which decline. The lens doesn’t proceed to any stage grave goods; the ‘object’ remains as it is, under the rough sun light, being in a way ‘naked’ from any ‘worth seeing’ quality, sometimes questioning the art medium itself.
The question –almost insignificant, thematically- that occupies Doulgeris [who really cares about these public and municipal buildings?] records the Greek crisis from another perspective. Our artist’s diary assumes more significance as he palpates through his pictures in a sober but also narrative way our collective grief.
Maria Maragou, Director of the Contemporary Museum of Crete, Greece.