Babis Kougemitros
The town of Marathonas, as a tourist attraction due to its significant archaeological interest, as a summer resort of Attica and as an area with intense agricultural activity, demonstrates the complexity of its landscape through the presence of scattered incongruous buildings such as greenhouses, sheds, caravans, farm and country houses, churches and archaeological sites. In addition to its other peculiarities one could enumerate the continually changing structure of its poplulation; permanent residents and vacationers co-exist with a community of migrant workers, who live and work in the rural  area.

Babis Kougemitros responds to this challenge through  the  photo series  "Marathonas" and he attempts  to create  a complicated and systematic study of the place as well as its people. Portraits in their natural environment interweave with a series of pictures that belong to the genre of landscape. The decision to develop a body of work of two different genres reveals the complex nature of the subject, while at the same time it renders the whole venture visually unique.

The encounters of the photographer with the unknown 'others' of Marathonas become validated with their portraits in an improvised studio that nature offers. The pictures of the people in the landscape seem to have been accompliced under conditions of communication and in terms of reciprocity. The photographer's gaze is democratic and his visual choices reveal a lack of overt emotional bias. The viewer is given metonymies, the least neccessary information on the relationship between the subjects of the photo and the place or even on their activity at the time when the  photographer encountered them.

In the series of landscapes,  the peculiarities of the area prevail, photogenic or not,  exactly those that most commonly escape one's attention and go by unnoticed:  replicas of statues and columns, ruins, faded signs, abandoned  buildings co-exist smoothly with  pictures of the natural environment of outworn but still exotic flora often reflected on river waters. Through these systematic presentations emphasis is placed on the unique property of the photo to register a visually interesting form, while at the same time it is transformed to something dynamic, mysterious and unfamiliar.

The photo series 'Marathonas' relates to the tradition of ' art documentary', as the previous projects of the photographer do, while it constitutes a thorough and profound  study of this genre. Babis Kougemitros decides to handle with prudence the potential of photography to present heterogenous realities, avoids simple criticism, visual slogans and the obvious that leads to the manipulation of the meaning of the image.

Natasa Markidou
Associate Professor , University of West Attica