“Spirits Unseen” is the product of Myrto Papadopoulos’s research and photography in the remote villages of the Pomak minority in Thrace. From 2017 to 2021, she undertook multiple journeys and explorations in the mountain Pomak villages with the aim of engaging with the female community who stay close to these lands to tend to the needs of their households. In contrast, the lives of the men follow different trajectories, as they are forced to migrate to the cities of northern Europe in search of work.
As the traditional structures and relationships in the Pomak community adjust to these social and economic conditions, both genders appear to be engaged in a dynamic exploration of questions of discrimination in the world of employment and education. Spirits Unseen focuses on gender roles in a society where couples marry young and at the same time seek their own voices and identities amidst the shadows of history and the codes of tradition.
Papadopoulou’s works appear to balance on the invisible boundary between the light and the dark, which coexist in a mystical land. Animals, trees, water, symbols, people, and earth make up natural materials for the composition of collective ritualistic processes. Organic and human forms at times commune with one another under a light that is new; at others, they emerge soundlessly like subterranean waters, not as something otherworldly, but to reveal secrets and sensitivities.
All are illuminated fleetingly as elements of a scene, rising up to forge a moment of understanding before disappearing once again.
All images ©Myrto Papadopoulos