Døcumatism is a non-profit association organising artistic projects and creating films starring anti-heroes in stories that cancel the existence of boundaries and stereotypes, making cinematography a functional tool for those living excluded in the margins of society to seek solutions.
Active in Athens since 2009, and founded by the filmmaker Menelaos Karamaghiolis – the team of filmmakers, videographers, artists, curators, historians, social workers, researchers, and educators, have been seeking through films and art events, to instigate dialogues and find possible solutions to key social issues.
Grace Chimela Eze Nwoke is member of Døcumatism. In initial research for her master’s dissertation titled: “Second generation of migrant descent, social identities and social control: The case of the “Afro-Greeks“, she used interviews with the second generation of Nigerian descent, and a questionnaire which were distributed to 62 people of African descent.
Diaspora Digital News interviewed Grace about ‘the AfroGreeks’ project in line with her heritage.
Grace was born and raised in the centre of Athens, to Nigerian parents.
“Through my studies in social and cultural anthropology I began to research and learn more about the second generation of African descent; driven by personal concerns I had about the formation of my identity and my relation to the multiple African communities and the Greek state. Becoming a member of the team Døcumatism, and being the key researcher of the ongoing collective community project ‘the AfroGreeks’, I came to the realization that all I had known about the African Diaspora in Greece was just the surface of the rich history of our presence in the country and that right now, the new generation of descendants from African countries are writing history by redefining their identity and celebrating Blackness in their own terms”, Grace says.
Being a Second Generation of African descent
“When referring to the second generation of African descent, I frequently find myself thinking about the best term to use in describing this social group. Throughout the research conducted, I have come across and used the terms: Black Greeks, Greeks of African descent, non-Caucasian Greeks, members of the Black Diaspora, Second Generation Africans, and Afro-Greeks, a term that we chose with the team Døcumatism, as the title of the project, having a critical approach on the term and the title, together with the protagonists of the project.
Døcumatism and ‘the AfroGreeks’ Project
The ‘AfroGreeks’ project began with informal and sporadic actions in 2009 up till 2015, when Døcumatism officially started working on the project with the Afro-Greeks themselves.
“The term Afro-Greeks was first used publicly in 2019 as the title of a video which was presented as part of a public dialogue at an event organised by the team Documatism in the neighborhood of Kypseli in Athens Greece, and that was when I first got involved with the project myself. Before then, even though no one can trace back who coined the term, it was mentioned in a song written in 2011 by the Afro-Greek musician Mc Yinka.
These actions led to a public discussion in 2019, about the African communities in Athens, which took place in the neighbourhood of Kypseli, a beautiful area near the centre of Athens that has been seen as a ghetto for the past 20 years, due to the fact that it is the home to many foreigners including the majority of people who are of African origin. Døcumatism has always been based in Kypseli and has been present in the area with various artistic initiatives that have contributed to changing that narrative. What triggered the whole discussion was a video created as part of the project’s first installation in the municipality of Kypseli that took place at the multilingual library and multicultural centre “We Need Books” as well as at the Catholic Church, with parallel events made by the African communities.”
Døcumatism – Projects and Initiatives
There is an ongoing project exhibition presenting an archive of over 80 videos including research regarding the African diaspora; accompanied by live events by the Afro-Greeks themselves: concerts, dance battles, workshops, open discussions, guided tours, podcasts, and film screenings in cooperation with the African communities and several artistic groups, with an aim of giving visibility to the “invisible of Athens” who stand up for being Greeks of African descent.
A network of collaborations is now created within the community, through the project ‘the AfroGreeks’, because the heroes of the project are also protagonists, co-creators, and artists. Most of the heroes of the project ‘the AfroGreeks’ are 2nd and 3rd generation with stories that clearly capture the problems of integration which are primarily due to colour.
The protagonists of the project’s video installation are members of the African Diaspora in Greece, as Døcumatism has interviewed and so far, filmed more than 200 Greeks of African descent living in Greece and the archive of audio-visual material being created is the first record of the oral history of the African community in the country in the 20th and 21st century, as an integral part of the national narrative and Greek history.
Døcumatism’s most recent work is the first Greek interactive documentary – ‘MEETING WITH REMARKABLE PEOPLE’; making it an engaging cinematic portrayal of the crisis in Greece in the last 15 years. The remarkable people on the platform are anti-heroes from different backgrounds, belonging to several social groups.
Other collective community projects have included collaborations with universities to deeply explore the unknown history of the African Diaspora in the Mediterranean, and detect common grounds within European countries. The project research has already begun regarding the first Africans in Greece who were found in the 16th century during the Ottoman empire in Crete and the research continued, reaching the migrant populations from African countries in the 70s and 80s that came to Greece, up until the appearance of populations coming from African countries as refugees today. Common actions have already been planned with the municipalities of Chania and Heraklion, the Vikelaia Library, the Nigerian and South African Embassy in Greece, and other local groups, non-governmental organisations, local African communities, and also educational institutions in Greece and abroad.
Interview Edited by: Theresa R. Fianko
Additional Information: Grace Chimela Eze Nwoke and Døcumatism
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