Επί νοός ειρήνη / Wish Peace in Mind
Wish Peace in Mind by Theodore Nikolaou is a multifaceted view into the world of mental health. Through nine visual chapters, including the photographer’s own personal experience, the artist helps us get to know those who we might see as “other”—through images which, reflection reveals, could ultimately represent any of us.
For the last five years, Theodore Nikolaou has been systematically visiting psychiatric hospitals and departments all over Greece, investigating a fragmented public mental health system, recording the contradictions, the personal dead ends, the stigmatization, and the social exclusion that it generates. But he does not stop there; he is not only interested in darkness. His work also includes life after institutionalization, a life of light, in community reintegration and psychosocial rehabilitation programs. There, he meets people who work, fall in love, travel, and hold hope for the future. The photographer hands them the camera and integrates their own perspective into his work, while also contemplating the democratic nature of photography, the definitions of “art” and “reporting,” who their ultimate agent is, and whether there can be an unbiased representation of the world of mental health, with subjects themselves as its authors.
The broad term “mental illness” often hides deep suffering. Social reintegration—a profoundly democratic and radical reform—is work that has been left incomplete in Greece. The aim of Wish Peace in Mind is not just for the viewer to discover or navigate a new world, but to illuminate it, to become one with it.
The title of the exhibition comes from a wall in the Attica Psychiatric Hospital, on which a patient had written the phrase Wish Peace in Mind.
Theodore Nikolaou is a photographer and a journalist, born in Chalkis, Greece, in 1982. His first contact with investigative journalism was at TA NEA, the Greek daily published by the Lambrakis Press Group. He specializes in social reportage and has undertaken dozens of research projects and missions. Over the years, his interest has shifted towards photography. He completed a years-long journey through Southeastern Europe, which resulted in a book entitled Aimos. Wanderings in the Balkans, published by Agra Publications. He seeks to place people at the epicenter of all his work, primarily focusing on mental health; refugee movement; economic, ecological, and public health crises; socially vulnerable groups; and social transformations. Articles, projects, surveys, and interviews of his have been published in the Greek and international media. His photography has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions both in Greece and abroad. He holds a master’s degree in photography and visual language, a bachelor’s degree in economics and has specialized in documentary photography. He teaches visual storytelling at photography and journalism workshops.