Stuart Franklin: The Greek landscape in flux

Stuart Franklin is a world-famous, award-winning photographer, and former president of Magnum Photos. He has kindly given me permission to reproduce his photograph of the deserted village of Anthochori in Arcadia, which appeared in his book Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux (Thames & Hudson, 2008). ‘Anthochori’ means ‘village of flowers’.


Stuart has commented on the image:

‘To the ancient Greeks, Arcadia was a rural idyll. Instead of a lush, bucolic landscape, I found one devastated by the hunt for fossil fuels. Sixty per cent of Greece’s electricity is derived from lignite (brown coal). This involves bulldozing whole landscapes to feed the nearby power station. In Megalopolis I found Greece’s second largest lignite mine. The village of Anthohori in Arcadia was wiped off the map – the church of Santa Maria was all that remained’ Source.

It’s a wonderful image, rich with metaphors for the condition of modern Greece. I don’t know whether Stuart intended it, but what strikes me is the visual echo of countless photos of the Acropolis. The Anthochori hill is a modern sacred mount: tiny, accidental, and fragile, and with an ambiguous message. Is it a superstitious folly or a gesture of defiance to materialism? Either way, it’s gone now.

Many thanks to Stuart for supporting He adds a personal note: ‘I love Greece and the Greek people, remember growing up looking at the grainy black and white pictures of Leonard Cohen and Marianne on Hydra from the “Songs from a Room” album and longing somehow to escape from school, and exams … and travel. So I did!’

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