MIA OPA [mia ora] is the Greek word for ‘hour’. I discovered the title in a box I was given in Ioannina by my friend who develops my films. ‘Hour’, however, has a more complex meaning; in a crisis, people tend to comfort each other by saying, “One hour at a time”. Take it one hour at a time – even just one breath at a time.
Greece is in a deep financial crisis. The country is experiencing vast changes, and young Greeks have been left dealing with the aftermath of years of defective politics. Many are moving out of the country, whereas older Greeks who have lived abroad are now returning to help their country get back on its feet. The discontent with politicians has made people restless, particularly in Exarcheia, Athens, where leftist groups are setting up their own state within state. One hour at a time, the country is trying to pick up the pieces.
MIA OPA represents the love I feel for my people, my home. It also tries to remind the Greek government of the enormous number of young people in the country, waiting for their chance to make a difference. While the crisis has started to change course, youth unemployment, in particular, is rising. This great discontentment creates enormous energy and a feeling like an exposed nerve. Almost as if worrying about stepping on a landmine and having everything blow up.
I can’t work systematically here, it won’t do. I must be as impulsive and free of limitations as the residents, my friends. Here, nothing can be planned in advance and nothing is predictable. Instead, I make sure that I’m always carrying ten rolls of film in my backpack and that I’m ready to surrender to the madness, letting it take me where it wants. Everyday life more or less consists of the fact that it contains nothing mundane. My methods are characterised by late nights, a constant lack of sleep and, at the same time, undying curiosity.
I am a cross between a fly on the wall and a mosquito disturbing your sleep. By photographing my friends, I can open doors and reach the people and situations I portray in my pieces. While focusing on life in Athens, I also include images of Ioannina, my home town, and life in the nearby village of Mantio in my work. By pairing photographs taken from the villages with those taken from Athens, I can create an interaction between the past and the present and a contrast between the metropolis and the countryside. My objective is to have the images of the villages tell the tale of old Greece, while the photographs from Athens symbolise a new, progressive Greece. Together, they create a dynamic narrative of a country in a sort of a waiting room.
MIA OPA explores a Greek generation that is searching for its identity in a society that is under extreme pressure.
Jannis Tordheim (1984 in Stockholm) is a Swedish photographic artist based in Gothenburg. He works with both digital and analogue techniques and moves in the borderland between personal documentary photography and artistic photography. What pervades Tordheims works is a sadness, a longing and the constant search for answers to the questions about who we are. Tordheim has studied photography at Berghs School of Communications and Valand Academy in Gothenburg, amongst others. His works has been published in magazines such as Positive, Prism and LIFO. Mia Ora is Tordheim’s first solo exhibition in Finland.