THE PRINCIPLE OF OUR HISTORY

We are Symeon and Anna and we live in Alexandroupolis, a city in northern Greece. About three years ago we decided to create the “Art Traces” team in order to implement projects and actions that we had in mind for a long time. But let's take the story from the beginning.

We lived a normal and balanced life, everything was running around, we had our jobs, we made some money, we had just moved into a new home. Of course, our job was not what we wanted, like most young Greeks in the years of the financial crisis. We had jobs that we told ourselves were "good", since in the years of the financial crisis having a job, even one you don’t like, was enough. We thought that some time in the future we would do something else, something better and fulfilling, like dedicating ourselves to photography, travel, experience other cultures and turn all of that into images we could share. Of course, that would happen sometime in the future.

Modern man is like a hamster running in its spinning wheel. So, like a hamster, we ran around and around, faster and faster, without knowing why or where we were running to. In fact, we were not getting anywhere, we just “existed". Until one day ιn June 2015, we had to get off the hamster wheel. Symeon was diagnosed with  Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic nodes.

 In one second everything changed for the worse. We were not living a normal life, we no longer had balance, everything was not going well. In fact, everything was turned upside down, and we didn’t know anymore if that moment in the future we have been waiting for to start living our dreams and wishes, would ever come. The only thing that was certain was the present and it was extremely hard.

Unfortunately, the first set of treatments did not go as well as we expected and Symeon had to go through bone marrow transplant. For three years the hospital became our second home. Cancer and its treatment give you plenty of time to think. The endless hours and days in the hospital put you in the process of getting very close to yourself, whether you are the one who’s sick or a loved one. And since the future seemed extremely uncertain, we would have to make the best of the present.

 So, almost automatically, we both put ourselves into a process of introspection. The two main questions we asked ourselves were “what kind of life are we leading?” and “what is the most important thing for us?

We came to the conclusion that we should get off our hamster wheel and stop compromising and settling. What we really wanted to do, besides being there for one another, was to do things together. So we decided to move on and set goals that we could achieve together.

• Our first goal is to cure Simeon, we are succeeding so far.

• Our second goal is to love each other and have a relationship based on sharing and truth, we are achieving this as well.

• Our third goal is to travel not as tourists but as travelers. Living in the places we visit, getting to know people, learning from them.

And this is how the story of "Art Traces" begins. With a just a backpack we decided to go on routes without restrictions or program, photograph places and people who have something to say. Our first project, which is still in progress is “Roman Traces”.

Our second project starting in September 2019 is “2 The End Of The World”. Walking the Camino Francés (French Way) the route of St. James of Compostela (Spanish: El Camino de Santiago, French: Chemin de St – Jacques, English: Way of St. James) is about 860 km, through many cities, the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where the sacred relics of the Apostle James are buried. Our goal is to reach Finistère, which was considered the end of the world until the Middle Ages.

We kept thinking why we should make this trip. Is it because we want to see if can make it till the end? We made it till the end of a more difficult journey. Is it because we want to discover our limits? There are no actual limits because each one of us sets their own limits. In the end, we thought that there doesn’t have to be a reason. The only reason is that we are healthy, we want to live and enjoy a journey without setting any goals. Whether we will reach the “end of the world” is unknown, what is important is that we will start walking to find out what is there until the “end of the world”.

Cancer got us off our couch and put us in a path of self-awareness, sharing and love. After experiencing the disease, we became more sensitive, more compassionate, stronger and more loving.

“I am a bow in your hands, Lord; draw me lest I rot. Do not overdraw me, Lord; I fear shall break. Overdraw me, Lord; do with me as you please. Who cares if I break!"

Three kinds of souls, Three prayers... Nikos Kazantzakis
Symeon

Symeon Chatzilidis

Symeon Chatzilidis was born in 1981 in Alexandroupolis where he lives and works as a photographer. He studied photography at IEK Corfu and European Civilization at the Hellenic Open University. He is a founding member and Vice President of the Creative Photography Center of Thrace. He has attended seminars with Nikos Economopoulos (MAGNUM agency), from 2010 to 2014 attended workshops ART THERAPY and photography with photographer Haris Kakarouhas.

His works adorn private collections in Greece and abroad and have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions including PHOTOBIENNALE LOGOS (Thessaloniki Museum of Photography), GREEN PROJECT at the (Michael Kakogiannis Foundation Athens), (WALK AROUND ART). He has participated in the photographic work of the Creative Photography Center of Thrace "TERRA THRAKIA" which has been published in a photo book.

He has taught and teaches photography at the Thrace Center for Creative Photography, KETHEA KIVOTOS in Alexandroupolis and Corfu Psychiatric Hospital.

SYMEON CHATZILIDIS
ANNA

ANNA PARASKEVIDOU

Anna Paraskevidou was born in the Pontian village of Yagdan in Armenia in 1988. She settled in Greece with her family in 1992. She studied at the Democritus University of Thrace in the Department of Agricultural Development.

Her engagement with photography began in 2011, she attended technical photography seminars, photo editing and the art of photography. She has attended photography workshops such as "ART THERAPY" with photographer Haris Kakarouhas. She has also attended DSLR video editing and editing seminars. She is an active member of the Thrace Center for Creative Photography, has participated in photography exhibitions and activities.

For the last two years, she has been working as a photographer.

ANNA PARASKEVIDOU

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