In Greek mythology, Gaia existed before anything else. The omnipresent and shapeless figure of Mother Earth, and primordial deity who bore the Gods of the seas, skies and mountains, is the spiritual embodiment of Earth and all life. Gaia is strength, the giver of life, but often taken for granted and treated carelessly as humans become ever more preoccupied with material power.
Greek artist Antonis Tsarouchas has created a fine art photographic series named after the mythological goddess, as a metaphor for the power of womanhood. “As the Earth faces a crisis, modern women face oppression, discrimination and sexism. They create and give life and when people see strength, they try to control it,” Tsarouchas tells WOM. “Seeing the inequality that they face forced me to take a stance by creating this project, in dedication to all the women who face everyday sexism, discrimination and oppression.”
Tsarouchas, 25, was born in a small village near Mount Olympus in Katerini, Greece, and moved to Germany one year ago to pursue his artistic career and the hope of a stable living situation away from the economic crisis and everyday hardships of his homeland. “As I was growing up, the situation in Greece was getting worse, people started to lose their houses, their dignity and their life,” remembers the artist of life back in Greece. “I was one of them, coming from way below the middle class I was not getting any shot not only in art but in life too.”
It was at this time that Tsarouchas began his artistic project with the goal of recognising, celebrating and supporting the strength of women, inspired by the mythical figures of ancient Greek mythology as well as in his own life. “During these problems I witnessed the power of women but mostly I recognised my mother’s strength, putting her dreams and pleasure aside just to see me smile,” says Tsarouchas. “Society doesn’t allow women to be themselves, they prefer to see the masks that they want them to wear.”
The series features a mix of digital collage and photography and focuses on themes of masks and identity. “Mostly I draw inspiration from feelings rather than images,” the artist tells WOM. “I feel the need to expose to people the true side of life and the mysticism of their souls. Nostalgia, Sadness and Vanity were always home to me.”
Tsarouchas worked together with other artists on the project, including Elifcan Ünal, a 27 year-old motivational writer who found the experience empowering. Ünal told WOM that the collaboration, which was her first professional shoot as a model, “showed me a facet of myself which I’ve never perceived before: strong, fearless and ready to conquer.”
Women are cyclical - like Mother Nature.
Women can be cold like winter and hot like summer.
Women can lose their leaves like trees in autumn
and they can bloom like flowers in spring.
But women don’t recognise the sacredness
of their own bodies and souls.
Cultural, family and social pressure prevent women
from finding her inner Gaia.
Sisters from another misters; I beg you to be pure.
To be courageous. To allow your souls to express
themselves through your beautiful bodies.
Get the pressure and the expectations
from the outside out of your way.
Just connect with your inner GAIA
and trust MOTHER NATURE.
- Elifcan Ünal