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The Greek photographer escaping urban crisis for the Athens natural landscape

All images © Petros Koublis

Our relationship to nature lies at the heart of a Greek photographer’s project, which examines the landscape around Athens

Petros Koublis has responded to Greece’s economic crisis by focusing his lens on the countryside surrounding Athens. For him, exploring his homeland’s natural landscape was the instinctual way to reflect on and probe the effects of the financial crisis, he says.

The idea for In Landscapes came to him in November 2012, and was born from a personal need to explore “the difficult times we’re going through today”. He explains: “I wanted to avoid the narrative of violence and its graphic representation in news reports. The landscapes provided me with an abstract language through which I was not only able to emotionally express the crisis of our days with dignity, but also reach for something universal.”

In doing so, Koublis hoped to emphasise the differences between nature and the city, and also touch upon how the beauty of nature can provide solace in turbulent times. “The series is an evaluation of our lives, the need for an escape, and the despair of not knowing exactly where to turn,” he says. “Nature provides a way out, an escape from the depression of our days.”

The notion of nature’s familiarity and strangeness features prominently; in many of the images, clusters of trees stand desolately in the frame, ordinary-looking, yet at the same time unearthly. In others, expanses of rippling water captivate through the mystery of what lies beneath. “The fact that these landscapes can be found so near to the city of Athens, although they look quite distant and unapproachable, is something that creates a definite contrast,” he says.

“It’s like two parallel states that are so close yet so far away from one another. We have an idea about the cities we live in, but nature remains a secret, and this is where I wanted to focus. The actual contrast is between nature and ourselves.”

Find more of Petros’ work here.

First published in the February 2014 issue. You can buy the issue, and many more, here.

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