In her photographs, the artist Lia Nalbantidou captures abandoned places, as well as the unique atmosphere at dawn, when hardly any people are on the go and only the birds are gradually waking up to start the day.
Her project titled Urban Secret Garden is a photography project in the making. Shooting started in 2010, as an improvisation of an aimless walk. The artist chose a special time for her photographs, a moment when the night is not entirely gone, and the sun’s rays have barely started to shine their light: “By seeking the dawn-walk motifs throughout the city, I discovered freedom in the hours before conscious light. I was there when darkness turned into light with a sharp noise; there when morning bird song collided with last night’s laughter; there when the mesmerizing buzz of automobiles drowned the sound of the flash light. Floral patterns joggling with ancient ruins, car lights beamed down central avenues, construction sites laid silently with distant buildings at sleep – a kite, a plastic bag, a pole, white chairs, shiny balloons, amputee trees - all entwined into a body of photographs to create a secret urban garden.”
Her walks through the city became a weekly ritual. During these walks, Lia Nalbantidou also captured –on her part– traces of usage and cultural practices, by photographing abandoned garden chairs during one of her mysterious walks or the temporary dwellings of homeless people.
“During my night walks, I tend to draw a personal city map. My landmarks are quite different from those of the official city history. I come across abandoned buildings and large-scale warehouses, small-scale hovels and construction sites, vacant parking lots, closed down enterprises –all human wounds. Athens has about 20.000 homeless people. No numbers on Thessaloniki’s homeless are readily available. In winter 2014, many people make their homes in abandoned buildings. My photographs attempt to weave an assemblage of symbols, redefining the public space by occupying it “tactlessly”. The stroll is uncertain, so am I. Current history is under construction.”