Nikolas Ventourakis’ work in ‘Leaving Utopia’ revolves around the preconceptions that dominate people’s judgments, even when all evidence calls for the opposite. Taking as example the social and financial crisis that Greece faces today, he highlights people’s inclination to look for the familiar, for easy answers that will not challenge their mindset. Using documentary visual language, he builds fictional narratives that play with the assumptions that we are all ready to make. It’s a series of pictures of people and places in the state that they existed before the crisis: an abandoned basketball court, a middle-aged man eating alone, a terrace, empty billboards. Yet, as one is affected by his preconceptions and, more often than ever, the media, he is led to believe that the images describe an aftermath of the crisis.
The title of the project does not refer to an idyllic past that has been lost. It’s a suggestion for people to change their perceptions and realize that, even before the crisis, Greece was hardly a utopia. This, of course, does not imply that the crisis did not have some very real, horrible effects that ruined the lives of far too many. Ventourakis is simply expanding the discussion, working in parallel with the main stories heard and read over the last five years.