My name is Bakalis Spyros.
I was born in 1985 in Athens.
My relationship with photography began in 2013 when during my military service in Lesvos I started working with the camera of my mobile phone.
At that time, I discovered that a photograph can function both as an expressive and a recording language.
Although my studies up until then had nothing to do with photography, the dynamics that the medium exerted on me were such that I decided to dedicate myself to it and start a new career.
The Greece of the recession and immigration were at that time the most important issues that occupied our society. Curious by nature, I tried to capture with my lens these two states of historical significance. Since then I have been working on issues that spark my curiosity.
My goal is, through my photographic work, to research and record social issues and human correlations, to give answers but also to raise questions for the viewer; to stimulate their conscience.
In 2019 I succeeded in the placement exams at the University of West Attica and began my studies at the Department of Photography and Audiovisual Arts, where I still study today.
I work as a freelance photographer in the field of reportage and documentary photography.
In 2017-2019 I worked as a photographer in the newspaper “ETHNOS”. A difficult yet wonderful school, which gave me the opportunity to gather experience and knowledge but also to work with very good colleagues.
“Football United” as an idea was born in Idomeni in March 2016.
Thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, had set up a makeshift camp on Greece’s border with North Macedonia, which they where trying to cross in order to continue their journey to the rest of Europe.
On my first days there, the embarrassment I felt when trying to record with my camera what was happening, was very great. My embarrassment was dissolved through football. An informal match was set up in the fields of Idomeni and I was meant to be the missing player of one team. I did not speak the same language with any of my teammates, but I could communicate with everyone normally.
Football, apart from being a sport and entertainment, had become a new language of communication, such as music, painting and mathematics.
It is amazing how the ball can eliminate, for the duration of the game, all those wounds, inflicted by the difficulty, the sorrow, the pain and the misery that life creates for the tormented and poor people. For all those who experience the injustice produced by the most powerful directly in their skin.
It’s magical how these wounds heal when those people kick a ball. The smiles and passion that fill their faces. People are transformed through football. They are released. They demonstrate the reason why human beings are on earth. To be happy.
“Football United” is my first long-term photographic theme, which I have been working on consistently since 2016. In all of my travels but also in my life here in Greece where I reside, I try with my camera to capture this transformation that the tortured people experience when they play football.
I am seeking to record the face of happiness, joy and carefreeness. To highlight football as a form of “art” through which people from anywhere in the world can communicate. To “speak” with people in our common language, the one that gives birth to football.
To highlight football as a form of psychotherapy, through which, at least for the duration of the game, the wounds in people’s souls are healed.
So far my project has travelled to Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.