Blog­ger’s life in plas­tic draws likes on so­cial media

Nikos Pa­padopou­los uses Play­mo­bil fig­ures to make po­lit­i­cal, so­cial satire

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ALEXAN­DRA KASSIMI

In an at­tempt to ex­plain to his son where each mem­ber of their fam­ily slept in April, 2013, Nikos Pa­padopou­los re­sorted to the child’s toys for as­sis­tance, tak­ing Play­mo­bil pieces to por­tray the setup. The de­pic­tion, which was ex­e­cuted purely on ed­u­ca­tional grounds, inspired Pa­padopou­los and the 36-year-old be­gan us­ing the lit­tle plas­tic fig­ures to de­pict Greece dur­ing the cri­sis. Pa­padopou­los has cre­ated a Face­book page, “Plas­ti­co­bil­ism,” where he has up­loaded im­ages of these scenes, which has drawn more than 16,000 fol­low­ers to date.

“What inspired me to cre­ate this pho­to­graphic pro­ject is the con­di­tions in my coun­try right now, con­di­tions to which you can’t re­main in­dif­fer­ent, that force you to re­con­sider a lot of things, that make you care for your neigh­bors, that make you change as a per­son. More im­por­tantly, it’s these con­di­tions that force you to break your si­lence as they pro­duce an in­ner need for you to ex­press your­self. They are con­di­tions that make you dis­cuss what’s go­ing on, that make you shout out the agony that you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. That’s what Plas­ti­co­bil­ism is all about. It’s my cry of agony and my psy­chother­apy at the same time,” Pa­padopou­los, from Thes­sa­loniki, told Kathimerini in a re­cent in­ter­view.

A physics grad­u­ate, Pa­padopou­los went on to com­plete a PHD in as­tron­omy be­fore get­ting in­volved with scenog­ra­phy and blog­ging. His main source of in­spi­ra­tion is cur­rent events. “I am inspired by cur­rent events mainly be­cause of the mis­ery as­so­ci­ated with them. I di­rect this ‘ide­ol­ogy of plas­tic satire’ to who­ever is in­ter­ested. One does not nec­es­sar­ily have to em­brace it, be­cause, like ev­ery other ide­ol­ogy, it’s just an opin­ion. More­over, it’s an ap­proach to things, which in this case is ex­pressed through Play­mo­bil fig­ures,” Pa­padopou­los ex­plained.

His scenes are sim­ple and com­pre­hen­sive, but at the same time very cre­ative. A bold plas­tic fig­ure flir­ta­tiously wav­ing on a mo­tor­cy­cle – for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Yanis Varoufakis, per­haps? – a burnt tree with a charred corpse be­side it, and a citizen chained to an ATM, wait­ing in line for his daily with­drawal al­lowance, are just a few of Pa­padopou­los’s cre­ations.

“My satire is for Greek vot­ers who are able to think for them­selves. Through my satir­i­cal de­pic­tions I try to show ev­ery in­di­vid­ual citizen what he causes, or can cause by his tol­er­ance, his in­ac­tiv­ity, his in­dif­fer­ence, and his ques­tion­able life stance,” said Pa­padopou­los. His mis­sion is for Greeks to “re­al­ize where they went wrong. The peo­ple must own up to their mis­takes first and fore­most, then the politi­cians,” said Pa­padopou­los, adding that “politi­cians are here as the con­se­quences of peo­ple’s mis­takes.”

Con­tro­ver­sial, Pa­padopou­los’s Play­mo­bil art caused a re­ac­tion from the Geo­bra Brand­stat­ter com­pany which makes the toys. Ini­tially ti­tled “Play­mo­bil­ism,” his Face­book page was re­moved last year with­out warn­ing as the toy man­u­fac­turer was con­cerned about trade­mark in­fringe­ment and the po­lit­i­cal use of its prod­ucts.

How­ever, this did not hin­der Pa­padopou­los’s drive for artis­tic ex­pres­sion. The two par­ties reached a so­lu­tion whereby Pa­padopou­los wouldn’t have to re­move any photos from his blog or Face­book page as long as he used a dis­claimer, fol­lowed the com­pany’s guide­lines, kept the page non-com­mer­cial and did not use the brand name. Hence, the blog is now called “Plas­ti­co­bil” and the Face­book page “Plas­ti­co­bil­ism.”

As he em­phat­i­cally states, his aim is not to awaken Greek cit­i­zens, as his only goal is to be able to freely ex­press him­self.

“No­body comes to their senses by look­ing at a pho­to­graph if he is not al­ready pre­pared to come to terms with re­al­ity. How can some­one be awak­ened by look­ing at a Play­mo­bil fig­ure in the trash when he doesn’t share the same sen­si­tiv­ity when look­ing at an ac­tual hu­man be­ing dig­ging in trash?” said Pa­padopou­los.

Pa­padopou­los cat­e­go­rizes his cre­ations un­der satire, but the Greek blog­ger be­lieves that these pho­to­graphs serve as a chron­i­cle of the harsh re­al­ity cit­i­zens in this coun­try are fac­ing.

“In or­der for one’s satire to have a sub­stan­tial mes­sage, it’s a pre­req­ui­site that one is fa­mil­iar with re­al­ity, has ex­pe­ri­enced it, or is still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it,” said Pa­padopou­los.

Nikos Pa­padopou­los says his aim is not to awaken Greek cit­i­zens, as his only goal is to be able to freely ex­press him­self. ‘No­body comes to their senses by look­ing at a pho­to­graph if he is not al­ready pre­pared to come to terms with re­al­ity. How can some­one be awak­ened by look­ing at a Play­mo­bil fig­ure in the trash when he doesn’t share the same sen­si­tiv­ity when look­ing at an ac­tual hu­man be­ing dig­ging in trash?’ he says.

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