Andreas Gehrke

The polyptych Kaifa, Peloponnes is part of the series The Ionian Road, consisting of landscape photographs Andreas Gehrke has taken in Southern Peloponnes, Greece in 2007. “The fires began towards the end of August and by the time they had died down 67 people were dead, 260,000 hectares of forest and farmland had been consumed, destroying thousands of homes. One of the hardest hit areas was the Peloponnese in southern Greece, a region known for its olive groves, forests and unspoiled (and undeveloped) beaches. In the aftermath of the fire, as residents struggle to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, there are rumours of large companies taking advantage of the destruction to push through controversial development plans that will change the nature of the Peloponnese forever. Large, “Costa del Sol“-style developments are being pushed as a way to get the region back on its feet and a long-planned road scheme looks as if it will finally be built. The Ionian Road, which will give access to the region from the overpopulated Athens region, will be a six-lane motorway passing through areas previously given Natura status by the European Union, a classification aimed at limiting development in areas of environmental interest and sensitivity. With government aid still only trickling into the region the private sector is stepping into the breach, financing recovery efforts and promising to help residents whose homes, farms and villages have been destroyed. Some of these companies are the same ones who will profit from the Ionian Road: on July 24, just a month before the fires began, the Greek government signed an agreement worth € 2.8 billion with a consortium of Greek and European companies to build the road, that gives the consortium its toll revenues for the next 30 years.“