For many of us, some things like the completion of primary education at a young age, are considered as given. For others though, adverse circumstances have thwarted their plans. People, of any age, under the burden of the current economic crisis, decide to return to school, in order to obtain a degree. These students vary; they are involved – besides obtaining the necessary qualifications – in a personal struggle with time, they try to win back the lost opportunity, they attempt to redefine themselves or even to fulfill the expectations of their loved ones.
Second Chance Schools in Greece have been offering basic adult education for over fifteen years. The European Union considers them as schools of important educational value. In Greece however, these schools have no permanent staff and the employment conditions, are adverse. They operate thanks to their trainers, who devote their personal time and money, working hard, sometimes even as volunteers. Those people have been disappointed as the situation is getting worse each year.
“second chance” is a personal project consisting of a series of pupils’ portraits (Greeks and immigrants), teachers, as well as photographs of the school area. We also took pictures of objects and we collected student manuscripts, answering questions about their past and their hopes for the future, which, in some cases, constitute comprehensive confessions of their lives and recollections. In this way, we wanted to record the school ecosystem and its ramifications. In our photos we depict, literally or figuratively, our relation to this world. Each one of these portraits presents the person we met through a special relationship with him and not just his/her image. At the same time, in an attempt to share a part of our own lives, we created, in collaboration with the school, a photography workshop, in which a small group of students participated. This process enabled us to change and, from observers of this world, to become part of it.
The project “second chance” has been presented as a self-published edition, in April 2016. This edition consists of two books. The first book consists of the photographs. The second book documents the collected student manuscripts and their translation in English.
Panos Charalampidis and Mary Chairetaki are a Greek photographic duo. They met in 2008, due to their mutual interest in photography. They investigate the world together, sharing thoughts and skills, while creating a common photographic vision.
Their recent artistic work combines a strong personal perspective with that of a documentary. They like to be committed to long-term projects, immersing into the world of their subjects and closely connecting to them. They are interested in exploring the social, religious and cultural identity of provincial communities or special and small environments. They practice photography in order to capture, interpret and convey the world of their subjects, while contemplating on their similarities and differences from the photographers themselves. This procedure simultaneously serves -in parallel- their artistic expression.
all images and text © Panos Charalampidis and Mary Chairetaki