Last fall, as Greek politicians battled it out with European Union officials over whether austerity measures would be put into place, public rage over the cuts boiled over as a series of all-out riots. Suddenly, students were being recast as terrorists, seen throwing molotov cocktails at police in grainy YouTube videos in a violent escalation not often seen in contemporary Europe.
Petros Efstathiadis, a Greek photographer whose work satirizes the protests, calls the violence a “daily spectacle” for the media. Bombs, his latest project, is a tongue-in-cheek meditation on the rioters’ homemade weaponry. The photographs show objects that look a hell of a lot like bombs, at least to the paranoid eye of the layperson. In one, a lightbulb is wired to a mousetrap, connected to a FIJI bottle of pink liquid. In another, a sponge and four aerosol bottles are rigged up to an old Casio. Upon closer inspection, they’re obviously fakes--but it’s still easy to imagine a TSA agent freaking out after finding one.
Funny though they are, these images carry real meaning for Efstathiadis, who describes the objects as “symbols of a world paranoid with fear and hate.” The decision to make the sculptures out of hairspray and water bottles, of course, recasts consumer trash as violent objects--a message that touches on the helplessness many Greek citizens feel regarding their economy. “The bombs that I create are like children’s toys, they reflect war and fear, yet are completely harmless, a powerful and pacific response to the absurdity that we have got ourselves into,” he says over email.
Meanwhile, the real-life violence continues--this week, tens of thousands of Greek citizens walked off the job in renewed protests against austerity. "A social explosion is very near," one union official told Reuters. Check out Efstathiadis’s full website here.