PDN Photo of the Day

A Greek Island Pulled Between Tradition and Modern Life

In 2003, Kristina Williamson graduated from Parsons with a BFA in photography and moved to the Greek island of Kythera, population 3,100, to spend a year photographing its people and culture on a Fulbright grant. Inspired by a sociological study of a different Greek island and its response to modernization, published in the 1970s, Williamson wanted to look at the pull of tradition and change on the island’s inhabitants as its population waned. After showing the images at several venues, they were collected in a book, One Year on Kythera, published by Kytherian Publishing in 2013. A selection is on view from November 17 to January 3 at the Half King Photo Series in New York. “I came to Kythera because I wanted to tell the story of life on the island,” writes Williamson in a statement. “Over the years, hope for better opportunities drove many Kytherians to emigrate, leaving behind a dwindling population. I was interested in those who chose to remain on Kythera, and the intermingling of traditional and contemporary cultures reflected in their daily activities, homes, possessions, and surrounding environments.”

On the island, Williamson found a tight-knit rural community that reminded her of the Pennsylvania town where she grew up, and which welcomed her curiosity. “They saw me there, alone, trying hard to find my place on the island and they wanted to help,” she has said in an interview. “My camera was the least of their concerns. I remember, in the early stages of the project, being surprised by how seldom people would even ask what I was doing. I had been conditioned to prepare myself with some explanation for: ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘Why are you doing it?’ ‘Who is it for?’ But instead the questions I was asked were: ‘What village are you from?’ ‘Are you Greek?’ ‘Are you hungry?’”

In her photographs, Kythera is a rich, beautiful place, defined by its relationship to the sea and its rocky green hills; young and old enact with humor the rituals that define community. Writes Williamson, “On Kythera, time moves more slowly. There is time to be with friends and family. Time to dance. Time to witness the drama of the tides rolling in, the clouds rolling out, and the intensity of summer reverberating off white-washed walls. These images of an island and its inhabitants are a celebration of a place which changed me and which is itself, however slowly but inevitably, subject to change.”

Related Stories:

Do What You Love

The Shepherd’s Daughter

Mediterranean Coastal Beauty

Posted in:



, , , , , ,


Comments off


Comments are closed.

Top of Page