The “Mitos” project is an ongoing ethnographic tribute by Greek photographer Michael Pappas that focuses on local costumes throughout Greece.
“The photographic thread takes on symbolic dimensions and seeks to highlight popular culture and folk art seen in a contemporary context,” explains Pappas.
“The natural and cultural environment is the background that is associated with the ‘costumes’ while the protagonists are always the people.”
Michael Pappas is a Greek photojournalist who travels all over Greece.
He studied photography at the Academy of Leica in Athens and has been published internationally, including by National Geographic and has partnered with brands such Unesco and more.
Leading international photography magazine The Independent Photographer calls the continuing Mitos series by Pappas “a compelling ethnographic tribute to the time-honoured customs of his homeland.”
The Independent Photographer summarises the photography nicely from a technical standpoint saying; “The medium-format portraits depict Pappas’ compatriots adorned in traditional garb and set against a diversity of eye-catching backdrops.
“Invariably characterised by rich colours, textures, and dexterous use of light, they possess a painting-like quality that befits the socio-historical subject matter and arrests and intrigues with striking immediacy.”
In what Pappas describes as an often painstaking and exhausting process; to be portrayed honestly and in context, subjects were photographed in the locations to which they and their garments belonged and shared deep cultural and historic connections.
In many cases dressing and preparation would take hours, requiring several pieces to be worn carefully to project an accurate and beautiful result that consists of the dresses as well as jewellery and even headbands - each of which possesses its own special symbolism.
Such fastidiousness displays the deep respect of both Pappas and his subjects for the traditional attire, and importantly, what it is that they represent.
The clothes are family heirlooms that in some cases date back to the 19th century, and whether everyday, festive, or wedding garments, these are sacred, emblems of ancestors, identity, and history.
“The garment is a symbolic communication system that provides information about the social identity of individuals and cultural groups. It is a language of communication that works on two levels: materiality and meaning.
“Through the structures, forms and stylistic elements of clothing, the cultural codes of each society at a specific time and place become apparent,” says Pappas.
Mitos, The Thread of Greece has been exhibited at The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, Athens, Greece in 2018 at Musee Fragonard, Grasses, France in 2019 and at the International Photography Festival, Ioannina, Greece in 2021.
The Mitos project by Michael Pappas is a compelling visual archive and a beautiful tribute to Greece.
All images © Michael Pappas