After an Economic Crisis, Modern-Day Greek Ruins

This video is part of a series of interviews with photographers featured in Moving Walls 21. Moving Walls is an annual exhibit produced by the Open Society Documentary Photography Project exploring a variety of social justice and human rights issues.

It was the heart of Greece’s industrial economy. And it was destroyed virtually overnight.

Four-hundred factories once operated in the region of Thrace. In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009, only 10 still function. Almost 30 percent of Greece is now unemployed.

Photographer Nikos Pilos documents the wreckage: skeletons of abandoned buildings; looted offices; a lone, tattered desk chair. The losses that these images quietly evoke run deep.

This is what economic crisis looks like, and Nikos Pilos refuses to look away. He asks that we do the same. The future of Greece—and of all Europe—may depend on it.

It is images like these that will loom in the minds of many European Union citizens as they go to the polls later this month to elect the European Parliament. The results will shape the European economy for years to come.

What do these images evoke for you? Share your thoughts below.

35 Comments

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Nikos message is one of the most important for our world. This is the truth of what is to come unless the world wakes up and learns the lessons to respect the Earth, respect one another and live self sustainably.

the story is told within the catacombs of a society, within the last places that might provide hiding.
those places and the sounds, the stories, are what should be seen.
roar, if you can
roar, the site, if you will

I don't think the European Union should exist other than to free up trade barriers. If Greek civil servants are able to retire at age 50 with fabulous pensions, that's Greece's problem. We hear the EU gave 80% of the capital to the capitalists in a certain region. I'm in the dark why EU needs to give Greece anything. Why should a productive country like Germany need to support Greece?

Nikos,

The images you've shared make me feel as if Greece and the Greek people have been completely abandoned by the EU. In my opinion, despite some of the advantages we've had, ultimately the "global economy" seems to have been created primarily for the benefit of multinational corporations rather than ordinary citizens of the world. And when our voices are no longer heard and our concerns go unaddressed, then what happens to the principles of democracy that supposedly govern our societies? I fear that what has happened to Greece could easily happen in other countries, including the U.S., and that totalitarian regimes could quickly arise to suppress open public dissent. And who are the first to be arrested? Those who are committed to freedom of information and freedom of expression - the artists, intellectuals, journalists and people of conscience. I hope the Internet will continue to serve us and keep and lines of communication open so we can work together for the common good.

The economic crisis in Greece is a lot about irresponsibility of greek and european bankers and politicians, but only the greeks are paying the price. When the bankers will pay for what they have done?

Just the same old same old. It will be repeated we've already forgotten

it's good lesson learned for the other countries.

It is amazing how unbelievably cold the world is as a few rake in billions seemingly as a sport. Nothing new or even isolated here, but one might hope we could aspire to something better and certainly more just.

photographs evoke an economic fossil, something important that was. They are an example of the success or failure of any industry of nations. Fly capital, capital is pintail, but industries marked generations. It is a clear example of Smith's invisible hand of economics.

This is exactly what happened to Mongolia due to the IMF austerity programmes and the WB-led structural adjustment. All industry collapsed, factories were looted and everything was taken from people and given to the handful business savvy political avanturists under the banner of privatization and economic liberalization. 20 over years of "development" of democracy and free market led to unspeakable rates of corruption, total dependency on imports, almost no industry, huge foreign debts, monopoly of oligarchs in parliament, media, business and impoverished people deprived of their basic human rights and own culture and identity. The mining boom is contributing to the above mentioned now.

Greek colleague's words indeed generate sympathy for the people who listen and view the images. However, I think that he does not mention the causes of the disaster that today is experiencing Greece. It is very important to know the factors that led to the Greek mess. Do not forget that the same thing happened in Mexico in the government of Jose Lopez Portillo 1970/1976. At that time, our country waste the money from oil exports. Was also into debt to foreign banks. The waste of money is over just as neoliberals came to power and began to rebuild the national economy. Mexico is when in poverty, unemployment and insecurity generated. I believe that in both cases, Greece and Mexico, the same thing happened. No money used to create industrial infrastructure to use when bad times arrive.

Good Day; I have read the article, seen video and read comments. In my opinion, the same result is wanted by every peoples enemies to keep them busy with the trouble and ask for foriegn help that never been for free or the sake of ALLAH. Please Mr Nikos show another hopeful video as an answer to what should be done and happened in field and actually in Greece that the citizens did and succeded to keep the country on feet within and after the crisis, sure every living nation has done a great results. Best Regards from Iraq.

Sad pictures. They remind me exactly of what could be seen in eastern germany after the reunion.

These images are very powerful and evoke a strong reaction in my core. Let's hope those in charge are as affected by them as I am.

Oh no, the crisis in Greece is not over, it is just not trendy anymore to talk, write, or film about it. Persons may bring it to 5 minutes of fame, countries hardly get over 6 months - one year international attention.

A very touching video; something to think seriously

Niko-
I hope many others will hear and understand what you said, that "Recession is not the poverty; recession is when you cannot produce anything." 40 years --a generation or two-- is a long time to wait for recovery.

I am posting this from Detroit, Michigan, where the "lion's share" of all resources has been for years and is still being claimed and carted off by business interests. Consequential despair, the looting and the "ruin porn" are similar. Our percentage of unemployment is worse, though, close to 50%

We, like you , are surviving and trying to keep hope alive by sharing what little we have with one another and by producing --mostly through community gardens-- whatever we can.

A small factory was auctioned off near me last year, and I wanted to buy it to start a neighborhood solar panel manufacturing co-op, but no one wanted to fund it or partner with me in the work of starting and running it, so it didn't happen.

Thank you for showing us how much we have in common with people who are suffering in Greece.

Broad spectrum failure of the entire system across the globe. From the financial to the environmental. Tinkering the failed system by screwing the screws tighter for working people will have predictable consequences and merely prolong the agony for all life on earth!

The photographies of Nikos Pilos remind me the movie Mad Max that I saw many years ago. At that time, Europe was prosperous and I was then thinking that this movie was purely "science fiction." Unfortunately it is the reality nowadays in Greece. It is the near future for most of European countries. I am sure that the reason of such a sad situation is the madness of few rich people who do not understand that it is not possible to build prosperity for few while a large majority of people have no access to essential care like working, eating and health.
I hope that populations will react to that scandal by showing the strong argument that they are numerous facing only few rich people.

The Greek government and citizens are not innocent but the price they are paying is too high. The EU council, EU member governments, Eurostat are all complicit in a giant fraud that permitted Greece to join the Euro, They all knew what was going on when Greece misrepresented its finances. The scandalous role of Goldman's is also going unpunished. Greece should default and leave the EU and Euro.

The problems of Greece were created over the years by a group of very rich peope who dominated politics and commnerce. As far as I know these "patriots" hardly paid any taxes and within the shield of the Euro national debt piled high. Europe paid already billions to regulate only the basis of the debt situation also for the benefit of European banks who earned high rates of interest over the years and who would have been hard hit if they had to bear the defaults now. At the same time severe steps of - necessary - reforms were requested from Greece by the Troika, who decided about relief payments. The burden of the reforms seems to have been carried so far by the ordinary Greek people. To stimulate the economy, there should be investment programs, which could be financed in the first place by the Greek oligarchs, who are responsible for the mess.

For those who are interested to know a little bit more about what has been going on in Thrace (and to a large extent Greece) and can spare more that the video's 2.30 min runtime, you can have a look here http://www.kathimerini.gr/421327/article/oikonomia/die8nhs-oikonomia/o-j...

The article's in Greek but the google translated version makes sense. For the tldr types, the article basically says that Thrace was in recession way before the recession.

What difference do our thoughts about Greece make. They will do what they want to do. I do not understand the purpose. Would you please explain the purpose of this?

Very sad photo's - very similar of an exhibit I saw of Detroit.
However this did not come about by "the crisis only" your country was also ridden by bureaucracy, red tape corruption and lazy politicians. Sometimes a storm is needed for the dead wood to break of the tree.

What has happened to Greece and to the Greek people is dreadful and should not have happened, and similar catastrophes should not be allowed to happen elsewhere. But what is not so clear is why it happened and what we should do to stop it happening elsewhere. We were told that Is was a breakdown in the economic managements of the Greek state, but it cannot be just that.

Was it:
* unconstrained capitalism with people pursuing personal gain at the expense of others?
* wider economic areas enabling the flight of capital to a more profitable area?
* EU subsidies removing personal commitment to the success of enterprises?
* or something else?
With the upcoming European elections we do have a chance to do something, But what?

a heart touching story of greece, the country of prosperity, peace and utmost development in almost in every field. the international community has to think and take some concrete measures. thank you very much for sharing.

Terrible situation. Unemployment that is.

Fantastic art.

I don't agree with the conclusion of the artist in the video. Not sure Western economies will have the same problems, because Greece did.
Greece learnt a very good lesson through this crisis. Do not let incompetent and populist politicians to run the economics of your country. Hope this lesson is a lesson learnt for the next years to come.

This is the result of a socialist government and over empowered unions taxing and spending w/o consideration of what the economy can support. The EU is no better and the US is facing the same tax and spend future. Wake up NOW.

So invisible hand is not working. What is working?
Should free market be under controll?
What about Ukraine? They want to join EU and this is exactly what Russia is telling them.
For me the answer is: the greed is not good.
Some countries should have wealth redistribution.

looking for better life for all

I watched the video carefully, a part of my heart is in Greece because i worked there many years ago and since there i go there every year...i'm also thinking to move there...even without job...i'd like to live there, maybe have some activity...and perhaps to be able to let some greek citizen work!

My wife and I visited Greece last year at this time for three weeks, and fell in love not only with the food and the sights, but the dignity of the people. Prior to our three week stay in Thesaloniki, I had read from Greece's Odious Debt, by Jason Manolopoulos, which I believe describes the self-deception, group-think, and greed which led to the situation that Greece finds itself in. Thank-you Nikos for these images, the casualties of economic carelessness.

The images remind me of Detroit.

Nikos' message is one of the most common for our world, economic crisis is a lot about irresponsibility of government and the politicians, need to think seriously

A major factor exacerbating our financial woes was the exploitation of the crisis by investment banks. In Greece's case, for example, the secret deal engineered by Goldman Sachs in 2001 yielded them large fees and ongoing usurous repayments but for what benefit to Greek citizens? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-06/goldman-secret-greece-loan-show...

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