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Sani Sand Forest

The Sani sand hills, which lie between the shore of the Thermaic Gulf and the marshy, brackish savannah, have evolved over time into a battlefield where the Aleppo Pine struggles to survive. Their only allies the wild thyme and oregano, and the stubborn schinus, the trees valiantly resist the wild north winds which sweep the coastline, spraying salt everywhere, and form their own unique ecosystem, like a strange colony of extra-terrestrial beings, almost mythological in their inspiration.

The sand here has blossomed into a strange, eerie forest, the tree trunks twisted out of shape, or crawling along the ground like reptiles, or mythological invertebrates, growing ever longer and more involved and entangled, but never gaining in height. A monstrous vegetation which, in these monochrome photographs by Fokion Zissiadis, seems to represent in vivid relief the battle for survival between nature and the wild and harsh conditions of the place – not just the barren soil, deprived of fresh water, but above all the implacable, relentless rage of the north wind, particularly in winter.

The black and white photographs, taken in the baking heat of a midsummer midday, which almost seems to represent in cross section the shapes of the vegetation, against the background of the white sand, convert the colours, deliberately, into shades of grey.

The choreography of the tree trunks, tormented by the implacable winds, the clustering leaves at the end of the branches, like flowering trophies, the epic drama of contrasting forms … all seem to convey the certainty of an eventual victory for the life force, however twisted and distorted a form it must assume, however harsh and hostile the conditions with which it must do battle

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