What is culture, who is it?
Artistic and intellectual culture, complementary to each other, forms with the social, the “living together” an inseparable whole appealing to our imagination, to our heart as to our head. It comes to question, titillate, jostle our beliefs, our fears, our knowledge, our values, our doubts, the world in which we live and the human that we are in this society. Far beyond that, it carries us, pushes us towards the future. It vibrates inside each one to express itself outside and comes back to us enriched with feelings, discovery, encounter, a shared experience, common and individual. It is invented and transmitted.
It does not belong to financiers, nor to the state, nor to the ratings, nor to intellectuals, nor to those who think they know, it is not reserved for an elite, you must not have more than fifty-two to understand it, feel it. She is not pompous, she is not sad, cold and conceptual, she can make us laugh as well as cry with emotion or sadness, she is not an empty thing, she is not a simple distraction or leisure. It is good to have fun, to have a hobby, but quite simply, this should not be confused with culture. It is not for anyone. She is you, me, us, she is our experiences, the street, she is the living and what we do with it.
Culture, artistic-intellectual-social, essential to the process of life is not a commodity, much less anecdotal, fixed, external; it is the breath of the future, essential for each one to love the world, to love us. It comes to seek in us our sensitivity, our sweetness, our dreams, our benevolence, our desire for light to make possible a personal or social understanding by teaching us to look at what is good in oneself and in the other but also to look at what we would not like to see in us and in our world. She’s a nanosecond ahead of our time when it makes sense.
Culture pushes the limits, our limits. It is a revolution of every moment.
The Caravan Project through its work, its research, its journey towards others awakens this dimension and shares with us their questions, their experience and the meaning of their work.
Alexandra Saliba: We are a collective of film researchers, artists, our name is Caravan Project. We embarked on a journey in 2011 to uncover untold human stories. We traveled all over Greece in a caravan. Through documentary filmmaking and photography primarily, we began to document these untold stories. Our goal was to save and disseminate the stories that can motivate and inspire people. And above all, it can shed light on another aspect of our country in crisis.
We wanted to find the stories of people who have their own values, who are trying to change their lives, who are trying to change the world within their community, people who still know how to love, who are sincere and who are kind of revolutionary. in terms of creativity, of course.
Ricardo Arias: Is this project your response to the crisis?
Stratis Vogiatzis: Of course we had to think of a way to react to what was happening in our country. We thought the best way to do that is to act as artists and as people who care about what’s going on around them, to go out there and collect stories.
As Alexandra told people, they can, through their lives and through their actions, inspire and motivate others to come out into the world, to express what they are feeling and to act in some way or another through themselves.
So we wanted to document stories. We thought sharing stories was a revolutionary tactic. And that’s why, after documenting some stories, we started distributing and sharing them in schools, universities and prisons. And each time it was a social experience that happened there. Because people felt the need to be close to others, to dream, to resist creatively, to go their own way in life.
We felt it was the right thing to do in these turbulent times.
Ricardo Arias: What is the change that all these actions produce in you?
S V: Caravan Project isn’t just a project, it’s a lifestyle, you know, it’s a way of looking at the world and being kind of close to the rhythm that exists around us. What we’re doing there isn’t just taking the camera with a scientist’s gaze. There is the life of the person, there is the life of the community. So we are part of it. We try to be a part of the life of the person we are documenting. And then we make a documentary about him or the life of a collective group.
So I think it influences us deeply, influences the stories we live and the people we have met. And I think they become part of our extended family after our time together. And of course, we are not the same people after the story.
Also, the way we make this documentary is not a report. You know, it’s kind of the result of an experience following a deep involvement, of an encounter between two worlds. This experience also transformed us as people.
A S: I think it’s very important, especially in the second phase of our journey through Greece and the way we are. We are dedicated to communicating the stories we have collected by setting up a space, with two tents and camping in a Greek city for a month, creating something like a space where we invite people to come and meet the other world that we try to present through our stories. And I think we’ve realized that’s a very dynamic feeling that we’re bringing through the second phase of our journey.
We realized the power of stories, we realized that stories, those kinds of stories that we don’t hear in the mass media, the mainstream media, have the power to awaken people’s souls and hearts. . And this is very important because we have realized that stories can act as catalysts for social change, maybe even too much! And it sounds huge, but that’s what we achieved through our trip and through our interaction with local communities and people.
GN: Has this experience that you have been living with people for four years changed your outlook on the future?
S V: I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself. The people we have met and what has happened in the trailer over the past five years just made the feeling I had before that stronger. You know, you have to fight, like life is a fight.
I mean, for what you believe in, for the other end of a struggle to get to you too, I’m struggling with … is the wrong word in English. But anyway, a fight you are fighting for. I also think that in the people we documented there were people who lived as drop outs of society, they didn’t have the luxury of being the beneficiaries of society, you know.
And if there is an inner bond that connects us to them, it is our duty not to let go because of the difficulties that surround them, nor to oppose their attitude, not to bend and not to surrender, whatever the circumstances, the difficult circumstances that surround them.
And to have this precious thing which I think is the most precious thing that we also want to talk about through our work, which is dignity.
GN: In a few words, why did you agree to meet with us?
S V: Because we think what we do maybe mean something to someone. And because we somehow want, as Alexandra said, to spread the importance of a person’s life story and through what we do and the people we have documented, that other people can be inspired or mobilized by different points of view; maybe we can help with that.
Translation by Lulith V., from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!