National Hellenic Museum Presents LIVES AFLOAT: THE GREEK REFUGEE CRISIS THROUGH THE LENS OF TASOS MAROU 2015 – 2017 Review – Aiming for Europe But Landing In Greece

The vast swirling and radiant sea towers over a little grounded boat, no people, just remnants. We have heard a lot about refugees and the crisis happening all over the world. Countries torn apart by war or ravaged by the elements, their people act because they are left with no options. Now, the National Hellenic Museum is presenting photos by Tasos Marou who has been documenting the refugee crisis landing on the shores of Greece.

Stats, graphs and text get us familiar with the magnitude of the crisis. We learn about how many people flooded Greece and what those refugees were facing. Where they were coming from as well as what was driving them to such extremes. As these facts seep in, they lay out the daunting task that they presented for this small Mediterranean country.

Tasos Markou’s photographs are presented hung as groupings. Amongst the photographs are quotes that help us understand the personal and emotional weight of the situation. A group of photos of refuges still in life vests climbing out of the sea with a quote from Tasos the reads “They didn’t realize they hadn’t made it to Europe. They made it to Greece” sets the tone for what we are about to experience.

As we peruse the show we catch glimpses of life. Children are playing, adults are comforting and helping each other. Medical teams provide a stark cleanliness to the background where people are covered in mud. The heavy feeling of grey permeated the entire show even as bright and vibrant colors present. The colorful tents also provided little respite as they were surrounded by hordes of people waiting and waiting and waiting.

The refugees didn’t want to stop in Greece. Such a small country, amid its own financial crisis, couldn’t support them all. As the refugees moved so did surrounding countries—they moved to build walls. Maps allow us to understand a little bit more from a broader perspective, but the show personalized the refugee crisis. With photographs of border crossings and a reference point for the height of the fences we were able to get a glimpse of something we hope to never have to experience.

Crossroads is a companion show to Lives Afloat. A project lead by Tasos and French photographer Lois Simac, we are presented with black and white photos taken by refugees. We experience this as a break from the normality of refugee life. With a combination of both documentary and posed photographs, we can experience the photographers as they are learning and working together. In the midst of their own tumultuous lives they are able to explore, beyond survival , this is collaboration as creativity.

National Hellenic Museum LIVES AFLOAT
National Hellenic Museum LIVES AFLOAT
National Hellenic Museum LIVES AFLOAT
follows: National Hellenic Museum, “Lifes Afloat: The Greek Refugee Crisis through the Lens of Tasos Markou 2015 - 2017,” photo by Tasos Markou.
National Hellenic Museum LIVES AFLOAT
follows: National Hellenic Museum, “Lifes Afloat: The Greek Refugee Crisis through the Lens of Tasos Markou 2015 - 2017,” photo by Tasos Markou.
National Hellenic Museum LIVES AFLOAT

National Hellenic Museum Gives Us Glimpse of the Refugee Experience

Walking around the show, which was hung on movable walls, we could see beyond where we are standing. We can peer through the show to see where we are about to be, or where we were. From this writer’s viewpoint, this is an especially interesting effect.  We are positioned like the refugees.  They are looking forward to a better life‑—they have glimpses of it, but until they arrive there it is only a glimpse. The walls are placed far enough apart that we are not sure if they are meant to be passed through or not. Little things like that make us further take into consideration the lives of the people we are experiencing through Tasos’ work.

Tasos threw himself into his work. He explored how he could make the lives of the million people that landed in his backyard better. We are left with an odd feeling as we exit the museum onto Halsted Street—how can we make lives better?


Exhibit is announced as open until Spring 2019
Tasos Markou speaks on the Greek refugee crisis: Saturday June 23 2pm – 4pm
Museum Hours
Tuesday – Wednesday – Friday 11am – 5pm
Thursday 11am – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
Monday Closed

The Museum will be closed the following days:
July 4 – 4th of July
September 3 – Labor Day
November 22 & 23 – Thanksgiving
December 24 & 25 – Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
December 31 – New Year’s Eve
January 1, 2019 – New Year’s Day


National Hellenic Museum
333 South Halsted


Members are always free

  • Adults $10
  • Seniors $8
  • Students $8
  • Children $7 (3-12 years)
  • Child under 3 years FREE

National Hellenic Museum

For more information please visit the National Hellenic Museum website

Photos courtesy of National Hellenic Museum.

Editor’s Note:  For another example of how Greek artists are presenting the refugee crisis amidst the country’s continuing economic malaise, read the Picture this Post review of Greek actor/director Christopher Papakaliatis’ award-winning feature film, his second—WORLDS APART.

MartinJon is an artist, coach and healer who is passionate about helping others grow. With a core belief that everything we see and experience is a reflection of ourselves MartinJon  presents a unique approach to seeing the world and our lives. Learn more about MartinJon and all the facets of his work at his blog or connect on Instagram @MartinJon where you can connect with him directly.

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