Where the Wildflowers Grow
- Ongoing -
Photographed in Greece, 2019
Read, view the project on Offspring Photo Meet, Then There Was Us, Black River or Swarm Magazine.
Over time, some past events slowly become hidden in our contemporary society as well as in our family environments. Where the Wildflowers Grow portrays a rural village hidden in a mountainous area of northern Greece, where the history continues to play a role in shaping the current state. My family originated from this location and lived there until they were forced to leave their home behind, and never returned.
This is a journey through the homeland of my ancestors, documenting a place that was once affected by the Greek Civil War, and attempting to understand its past that remains a taboo topic in my family until today. Delving into the history of the environment, showing the remnants of its past, the work examines ancestral heritage.
The Greek Civil War (1946-1949) is marked by some as the beginning of the Cold War. It was a conflict between the communists and monarchists, resulting in significant damages to the environment and displacements of thousands of children. Until now, the aftermath of the civil war remains rooted in some of the country’s landscapes and communities. Communist guerrilla forces operating under the Greek Communist Party sent many children aged three to fourteen to countries in Eastern Europe and the royal family had formed camps around Greece, where other young children from different villages were placed. Once the war was over, some children were never repatriated to their native environments.
My grandmother was placed in former Czechoslovakia by the communist guerrilla troops in the spring of 1948, and her family members became scattered around the world. A large number of migrations, occurred from the village of my family before, throughout and after the Civil War - causing the present-day site to be almost uninhabited, with less than 80 residents.
The Family Portrait
This constructed image shows my ancestors, who used to live in the Antartiko/Zhelevo village in northern Greece. The photo was created after the Greek Civil War separated them into different countries around the world.
My grandmother's family (her mother and brother) photographed in front of their house. They were the only ones, who had stayed in the village after the civil war, to protect the family's property. A few years later, they managed to move to Canada, as they were living under very poor social conditions.
A map from 1948
From a Slovak newspaper called Práca (Labour) that published an article titled Northern Greece in Flames, describing the situation during the Greek Civil War in 1948.
Several years later after the first photograph of my grandmother's mother and brother was captured in front of their house. This image was probably photographed right before they left their village and never returned.
Group show Everything was Forever, 13 November 2019 at the London College of Communication.
Installation photos by Sheng Zhang.