Berlin photofest chronicles Greek rage

Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:23am EDT
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By Gareth Jones

BERLIN (Reuters) - Photo-journalist Nikos Pilos used to travel the world to cover conflicts, now he only needs to open his front door in Athens.

Pilos's work, on display this week at Berlin's Browse Fotofestival, chronicles the violence, anger and despair engulfing Greece as it tries to stave off economic collapse.

"It is ironic. Before the crisis, I used to spend eight months of the year travelling to places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan. Now I don't need to leave Athens," Pilos said.

"War has come to Greece," said Pilos, a prize-winning journalist whose work has appeared in a wide range of publications.

Many of the black-and-white photographs on display are taken on Syntagma Square, before the parliament building in central Athens, scene of countless battles over the past few years between helmeted riot police and anti-austerity protesters.

In one, a large Christmas tree on Syntagma Square is ablaze, in another a hooded youth points a water pistol at police clutching riot shields. In a third, a man wearing a gas mask holds a Greek flag aloft through swirling mists of tear gas.

"I will stay in Greece while the crisis continues. Unfortunately, I expect to have lots of work at home for quite a long time to come," said Pilos, adding that he had been physically assaulted three times in Greece while doing his job.

"I have been to so many war zones but the only time I have ever been beaten was in Greece, once by anarchists and twice by the police. I spent 100 days embedded in Iraq (in 2004-05) and have worked in Lebanon and in Yugoslavia in the 1990s and always came through without a scratch," he said.   Continued...