Working with found materials, Petros Efstathiadis (b. 1980) meticulously creates scenes of fantasy, telling the story of the California Gold Rush through the lens of post-crisis, twenty-first century Greece. In this version, a man walks into town with a promise of great wealth to the residents if they only sign away their land to host a new gas pipeline from Azerbaijan. No one ever got rich this easily.
Efstathiadis works in his hometown of Liparo, where life was good for a long time thanks to the peaches the land brought forth, until the economic crisis struck. Now, he uses anything from repurposed office chairs to cassette tapes and old garden tools to establish an illusion of homemade wealth. The fictional version of Liparo has it all: a bank, a swimming pool, even a helicopter. The makeshift, recycled nature of Efstathiadis’ scenes evokes both the pioneer spirit of the original gold rushers as well as that of the current Greek populace, stuck between a rock and a hard place, being squeezed by global financial institutions. But his work is playful and imaginative, maybe even hopeful in its barrenness. If the inventiveness of Efstathiadis is any indication, the north of Greece will be able to withstand any challenge.
Petros Efstathiadis recently won the prestigious 2018 HSBC Photography Prize. The artist will publish his first monograph with Xavier Barral this year and HSBC will organise a traveling exhibition of the works, which will be shown in four venues in France, including Arles, and abroad.