Nemesis (Greece, 2009)
Upon turning 18 years old, the sons and daughters of immigrants in Greece lose their right to remain inthe country where they were born and raised. The State accepts and receives the children of immigrants—it allows them to attend its public schools and make use of its public healthcare system, for example—but it does not grant them citizenship. Once they become legal adults, these youth find themselves in a legal no man’s land, deprived of political and social rights. In simple terms, upon turning 18 these young adults are required by the State to abandon the country post-haste. What’s more, many are forced to return to dangerous situations—including war, famine, health and housing crises, and crackdowns on civil liberties.
“Greece is the only country in Europe that lacks norms for awarding citizenship to the children of immigrants that are born inside of Greece. And like Austria, Greece requires 10 years of legal residency—the longest period on the continent—for immigrants to be granted citizenship. It is also the only country that does not explicitly spell out its criteria for accepting or rejecting visa applications.
“But the children of immigrants who were born and permanently reside in Greece tend to lack many of the de facto requirements that current Greek law requires of those aspiring to attain citizenship when they turn 18 years old. Applying for citizenship costs 1,500 euros (some 2,300 US$), the most expensive of any country in Europe.”
Reflecting on this situation, I took the image of an African man and I placed a veil over his face to represent the Goddess Nemesis, who is the goddess that gives and takes away. The African man carries a Greek flag with a swastika drawn on it, referring to the rise of national socialism in the country at the time. The fascist political party Golden Dawn began to enjoy ever greater representation in the governing bodies of the State and constantly carried out what they referred to as “cleansings” during which they went out in large parties to beat up, rob, or otherwise violate immigrants.
Life-size posters of this Black Nemesis were pasted up in various locations throughout Greece with a text that read, “IU SOLIS GO HOME” (“Born of this land, go home”). Iu solis is a Latin phrase that is used in international law to designate those who were born within the boundaries of a given nation-state from those who are, on the contrary, iu sanguis, that is pertaining to the imagined ethnic majority/founding race of the country in question.
This action caused a lot of bother for the curators in Greece and the public there, who insisted that Greece was not a nationalist or discriminatory country. These assertions had to be reversed when, a few weeks before the inauguration of the show, a group of neo-nazis from Golden Dawn murdered young anarchist and anti-fascist activist Pavlos Fyssas during an anti-fascist march. This tragedy gave rise to a mass movement of anti-fascist activism which took aim at the impunity and freedom of assembly and action the Greek State granted to neo-nazis and heavily armed fascist parties who had already that year brutally murdered many immigrants.