As a fashion photographer, Giorgos Malekakis would always have to try to make Athens look like Paris, Milan or Beirut—but never, ever Athens. When Greece suffered a major recession in 2009, it took much of the local fashion industry with it; but George feels the representation of Athens failed to improve. It remained polarised between “tourist brochure schmaltz” and critical photojournalism of homelessness, hardship, and riots.
Step forward the I Love Athens Project, a photography and cultural platform through which George and his co-founder Dimitris Ntavantzis strive to represent a more honest and nuanced picture of the real Athens.
“Athens is like nowhere else on earth. It has so many influences and possesses such a strong energy and identity. It’s super-multicultural, unplanned and anarchic. But for years, Greeks always wanted to pretend to be something else—to copy foreigners,” says George. “This project is a call to look at your surroundings differently and appreciate the environment around you.”
George is interested in the areas where beauty lurks unrecognised and where people are fighting for change. “I have long documented the revival of Keramikos. The history of the area has been neglected, but street art and underground culture have changed its identity for the better. Keramikos is full of surprises and - just like the rest of the city—if you open your mind, you’ll discover so many interesting things.”