A PHOTOGRAPHER AMONG A COMMUNITY OF MONKS
I STARTED TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS on the Holy Mountain at Easter time in 1991. I
spent five years photographing monks in their spiritual setting.
I photographed without cease. I became gradually more accepted;
I was witness to their day to day routine, I made an even more truthful
record of he community of monks, without becoming a member of it,
yet without being excluded from it.
MY CELL WAS ON THE UPPER FLOOr of Saint George of Kalathas in Karyes, a
square building with an inner courtyard, such as an old inn might have. In
the courtyard was a vine producing black grapes and a stone cistern with
constantly flowing water.
MY NEIGHBOURS AND FELLOW RESIDENTS were Taleas the grocer, Father Daniel the
tailor, and Nikos who furnished building materials. I cut up firewood for
the ancient Russian stove that heated the kelli. The rain drummed on the
corrugated iron roof, and when it blew a storm I stuffed the cracks with
newspaper. I lived by the light of paraffin lamps or of candles made by the
monks themselves. Kalathas was overrun by cats; they were all over the
balconies and stairways, in the courtyard - Just everywhere. I developed my
films in the laboratory set up by Father Ioustinos and myself. It enjoyed a
view of Mount Athos and over the gardens of Karyes.
HOW MUCH OF A PLACE WITH A THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY can you manage to see
in he space of five years? You leave the Holy Mountain as you arrived on it:
calmly, humbly, and alone. You sense that something is missing from your
baggage; you know you will be back to resume your photographing...