Gandhi Foundation: Why does Gandhi interest you in particular?
Christos Papachristou: I believe that Gandhi is a unique figure of leader and “fighter”. the thing that makes him special is not only the philosophy and methodology of nonviolence that he represented — other figures have represented the same, like Martin Luther King, Tolstoy etc. — but its factual use at a national and later, global level. His faith in justice along with his persistence turned nonviolence into the key tool of a big dream, that of a free country. That was really an inspiration for me since I was a child, to see what a man can do with his will and his mind, without even hurting anyone.
GF: How can we practise Gandhi’s teachings in the present day?
CP: That is a very tough question to be answered and I believe that I am the least of all persons that can give such an answer. Cohesion and inspired action could lead to similar results, since nonviolence is a way of living, if this is the way that most people decide to live. The strategy of disobedience can be applied in countries where real democracy does not exist. Faith and persistence are necessary for achieving such a thing, virtues that a great figure like Gandhi had.
GF: Are there more young people like yourself in Greece who recognise the importance and relevance of Gandhi?
CP: Unfortunately the way the system of educating young people in Greece is not good. The students’ evaluation system is created in such way, that the ones that memorize and read exactly what the book says — without basically understanding what the book is all about, and what the meaning behind all that, is — are considered to be good students. Therefore young people have knowledge but they don’t comprehend how to use it in a positive and meaningful way. So they know who Gandhi is, but, they have no idea what was his teachings were.
GF: There are now problems of social unrest affecting all the countries of Europe due to the economic crisis, and Greece was the first country to have riots after the police killed a 15-year old boy before Christmas. Do you think that it is possible for young people in Greece to channel their dissatisfaction into a positive force for change using Gandhi’s technique of satyagraha?
CP: The youth are feeling the need to do something about all the injustice they see everyday on TV, on the streets etc. They have the energy and the strength, but they don’t know how to use it in a meaningful way. So we saw what happened with the 15 year old and we saw the reaction that followed. They have anger that should be turned into love, they have the power to change the world but they are manipulated by interests and by political parties. No one is there to teach them how to love and I believe that nobody wants them to be informed and wake up, because they know very well if they do that, they will lose the game. Like I said before, the understanding for a change exists, even for the economic crisis, but there is no interest on how we can succeed such a change. Greek people believe that are too insignificant to do anything so they just sit back and try to live their life they way it always was. Drastic changes should be made and they all start from a single mind — like Gandhi — and evolve to a whole mass that has the power to effect such changes.
GF: What are other examples of your art work?
CP: My interests are mostly social, racism, child abuse, sex abuse etc. I have attached another work of mine, which is called shadow play. It is made from old broken child toys glued together. Although when you look at it you see nothing, when you hit the light you see a shadow of a dad hitting his child. There is a big analysis behind it but I don’t want to say too much about it since it is not our subject matter.
Christos Papachristou lives in Thessaloniki, Greece. He is 28 years old. He studied illustration, design, and photography at a variety of schools including the University of Sunderland in the UK. He has worked as a photographer and currently design carpets for a living. He has his own studio were he does paintings and installations. He can be contacted at email@example.com