Home: New Photography from Greece

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Photography Centre of Thessaloniki

10 May - 7 June, 2015

10 May – 7 June, 2015 DELMAR GALLERY

Curated by Jacob Aue Sobol and Sun Hee Engelstoft for the Photography Centre of Thessaloniki Presented by Delmar Gallery, Trinity Grammar School in association with Head On Photo Festival


FOREWORD In the summer of 2013, the small mountain village of Lafkos was home for five days to twenty-one aspiring photographers. They travelled from all corners of Greece for an intensive workshop with Danish photographer, Jacob Aue Sobol. Sobol is a member of the renowned photographers’ co-operative Magnum Photos, whose founding members included Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. Working within this language of humanistic photography, Sobol challenged them to photograph what home meant to them. Over subsequent months, they continued developing this theme. Delving deep into emotions, memories, associations and identity, the extraordinary photographs in this exhibition are the result. Honest and intimate, they weave together textures of life, humanity and Greek culture. The Photography Centre of Thessaloniki organised the initial workshop and presented a curated selection of the photographs in an exhibition at Thessaloniki’s Casa Bianca in February, 2015. The tour of the exhibition to Sydney has been made possible by the efforts of the Centre’s director, Thanassis Raptis, and staff at Head On Photo Festival. Delmar Gallery would like to express particular thanks to them and to the photographers who have entrusted us with their work and shared with us their home. CATHERINE BENZ CURATOR, DELMAR GALLERY

Home is a place of memories. It is where we have our roots. It is a place we keep returning to. If we want to learn more about ourselves and the world we live in, this is where we look – in our own backyard, the place where our personality is shaped and dreams are built. Two years ago, I began my own Home project. I found two pictures that inspired me. The first taken three years ago of my twin brother putting his hand on my grandmother’s forehead as she was dying, and the other of Sabine’s sister giving birth in Greenland back in 2002. For me the obvious existential character of these two images started off this project called Home. And so, since April 2011 I have been photographing friends, partners and acquaintances, but also encounters with strangers that I felt a connection with, and who invited me inside their apartments or houses. In my workshop in Lafkos, I gave the artists the same assignment or inspiration: “Photograph your Home in a village you don’t know and where you have never been before. Show me what Home means to you. Not how it looks like but how it feels.” The project turned out amazingly. In the process the artists not only used their camera to take pictures, but also as a tool to create intimacy and closeness in a poetic and direct way. In spite of photography’s seemingly concrete form, they exposed layers in people that are not immediately visible, but nonetheless shape who we are and give meaning to our lives. This is their Home. JACOB AUE SOBOL

Home is not a space, a place or something material. It is an idea, an environment, a state of being. It is where, stripped bare, you are part of a place in time.



“Home” is an imaginary journey from nowhere to everywhere. Each instant, a dérivé, an expedition, a tiny miracle. Looking, means, Touching. I touch the edge of the leaves on a naked shoulder the rain on a bus window a bunch of wildflowers the water


I touch each and every thing that drags away with it the threads of souls and I weave narratives of love, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, joy, sorrow, delight, emotion, life.

Where is home? Is it the place where we were born, walked for the first time, grew up, fell in love for the first time, dreamed gazing out of the window, or is it where we we lived for some years to study? A place that drowns you, cheers you up, depresses you, relaxes you. A place where friends gather around filling it with laughter and smiles. A hug, a cozy sleep, dinner with the family.


The workshop at Lafkos began a collaborative search. What does ‘home’ mean to each of us? I followed my “photographic” path and found that home is the feeling of joy and sadness, the agony shown on the face, on the body. The lines of the buildings, the geometry that surrounds us, even the alienation from people we see every day.


Home is a concept that exists between every present and past, every presence and absence of a place, a person, a feeling, a moment. It’s when you lose yourself in a way that makes you aware of who you are. It’s the sense you carry under your skin. A place that you keep feeling nostalgic for even if you have not found it yet. The constant search for a destination. The chaos in which you choose to roam.



What is a home? Is it the place where you live or a shelter for your feelings and emotions? And what does it look like? Is it an apartment or, is it, as Hugo said, a home that looks just like the person who inhabits it? In a two-way journey between emotions and experiences, these photos are an amalgamation of the photographer’s own view and reality.


In this clearly personal and many times painful process, sometimes the photo captures the photographer and all that’s left is the examination of the final product.

Our home is where we feel that we are swimming in familiar waters. Either with our neighbours, or with strangers, the feelings are the same… Home can be found in apparently familiar locations, but also prima facie unfamiliar places. I photograph better when I feel at home. I photographed situations which other people would

avoid. I saw what ‘home’ means for other photographers and my jaw dropped! In the end, our home is ourselves and our projection of others and that’s what makes us unique!


My work deals mainly with religious issues and political realities. The projects I do are the result of research on issues that preoccupy me. My photos are mostly cerebral. After the workshop in Lafkos and my contact with Sobol, I started trying to see my feelings – through the images I create.


My latest project makes reference to psychologically disturbed individuals in psychiatric clinics and the work carried out by the rehabilitation groups with these people. It’s my view of my own “HOME”, my country and what is going on here now.

Photography allows me to find meaning somewhat differently to what i am used to with practical vocabulary in our everyday lives. The house is defined spatially and most of the time according to familiar “co-ordinates” such as objects, people and much more. But, carrying your body and thoughts day by day, and having the possibility to express yourself through moments that can fit inside a rectangular space, i came to understand that my home is not at


all connected to the things that i use daily, in fact it is not related to anything that i “use”. The home for me is our sexuality, our skin and the instant touch that lies at the end of our every move. Every time you share your sensuality and accept the feeling of your lover it’s like your body is transformed into a place that is ready to receive.

The workshop at Lafkos gave me the motivation to develop the project further, with photographs of my family, my hometown and photographs I take while on trips by myself, driving my car in the country, which is my favourite thing to do when I have the time.




Photography is part of my daily life. Everyday life offers us surprises that turn into interesting images through the photographic frame. This perserverance to discover and to focus on the seemingly trivial is the aim of my photographic thinking. So the photography window remains “open” all day, sustaining my motivation.


The idea of “HOME” could be related to a traveller, the sea or even a parking lot or rubbish tip. It is a project that always continues because its presence and power are constant.

At the workshop, Vassilis Karkatselis started to choose his photographs according to the thematic criteria that the teacher had set. He let himself be guided by the teacher and accepted the challenge of focussing his lens on subjects that he hadn’t previously been interested in. In an environment with no other responsibilities and obligations, this way of collecting images looked like – to be honest – just a

pleasant monologue. That is, until the last day, when the goal shifted, when it was understood that the final presentation of each photographer’s work should be a story like a novel, a narration with a beginning, a middle and an end. That was the moment which gave a totally different character to his choice of the final 45 images for the Lafkos portfolio.


When I started this project in Lafkos, I thought it would be very difficult to accomplish. The people of the village were complete strangers to all of us, but thankfully, they proved to be very hospitable, accepting us into their homes and into their lives for the short period of the workshop. By entering their homes and their lives, we were able to identify elements of our own lives, our outlook on the world and finally our HOME. During the workshop, Jacob pushed us all to our limits. There, at the limit of what you know, is when you can open your mind and take a leap of faith.

It was much clearer what HOME meant to us, in a faraway place where we had never been before, than it would have been doing this project close to our real home. Most of us believe that HOME is the place where we sleep at nights, where we have our personal belongings, a place that protects us. Now I believe that HOME is my memories, my feelings, my fears and my hopes, and also a place in my mind that makes me feel secure and warm, a place where my friends are, a place where I can make new friends. Welcome to my HOME.


Photography serves as a means of communication in my continuing journey towards attaining intimacy. My work is about the silence that precedes the storm, the subtle stare, burning sexual desire and imaginary love. Through portraiture I approach my subject and steal a fraction of its personality. Later, I re-imagine it and present it as my own. In that sense, I like to think of my work as a form of self-portraiture. What is home, really? Don’t we all, consciously or subconsciously, try to answer that in our personal journeys? Is it a condition? A state of mind? Is it our own, personal freedom? Well, the question alone is more important than the answer.


Jacob Aue Sobol helped me trust my instinct and let my intuition take control. That is the most precious contribution his workshop made to my practice. As long as you’re searching you’re on the right track. This project is a self-portrait, a projection of myself in a personal, metaphorical fairy-tale that strives to connect with one viewer, or maybe more... who knows? As long as we all try to find our own home.

Home is where the mind finds rests Whatever makes you remember your identity When you forgive yourself for losing it, and recollect your true existence Home is where the soul belongs and your spirit demands to return



I capture images from everyday life, images that contain rawness, life, intimacy, eroticism. Most of them were taken during the last five years. When I take photos I am trying to be close to my subject, even if I haven’t already “met” it – in fact, photography for me is a way to approach people, to gain new experiences, to know myself better. I prefer to be part of the experience of photography rather than observing from a distance. Some photos depict objects and plants but most of all I love taking portraits of people in their own places.


What I try to achieve through my photos is to re-create the world and through it to show my own reality, the way I understand whatever surrounds me in everyday life and sometimes in the lives of others. My work is a glimpse of life through time and place, through the eyes of a man and the city he lives in. The basic principle of my work is the observation of the world through my personal perceptions, going beyond a superficial and literal approach. Colour is one of the key elements of reality, of everyday life. The absence of colour in most of my photographic projects allows the viewer to enter the world that I create and to go beyond the obvious.


For me, photography is about inventing my own language, a means of expressing myself. I took up photography because of this need, the need to express thoughts related to myself and those around me and the camera is the means to achieve this. It is a tool with which I capture expressions, feelings, thoughts and fears - not only mine but also those on whom I choose to focus my lens. Among the themes I deal with are the family, portraiture, and the duality of memory and remembrance. The family and individual portraits focus on the depiction of emotional states (pain, fear, longing, sadness, innocence) as well as my personal concerns.

The concept of “home” is primal: it concerns everyone whether consciously or unconsciously. For me, home is a concordance between myself, places where I feel safe and people I feel safe with. When I feel safe, I am at home. No matter how far I am from my actual home. The urge to photograph comes to me most of the times when I cannot handle reality, when I don’t feel safe. It works as a medium or a way to connect with myself, to help me comprehend, to help me accept or hide from reality and to make me feel safer. Sometimes it works as proof of an experience. In this exhibition my work is an attempt to represent home, or the absence of it.


Absence of colour, disruption of time, discontinuance of existence, annihilation of place… My photographic world is a journey back in time, to my earliest memories, a never-ending attempt to keep time frozen, towards a future that, in the end, looks like the beginning. My inspiration comes from vignettes of life, shapes and the past. What inspires me leads me inexorably to replicate a vicious circle of remembering past experiences and reliving emotions. “We come from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life” - Nikos Kazantzakis, The Saviours of God: Spiritual Exercises, 1923.





My Home, my world… A place that recalls memories from my childhood years that have been transformed in my adulthood. Home… It’s about people I am fond of. About their uncertainty. My uncertainty. Intimacy, the unknown and vanity. Loneliness and the hope for change. Stoicism and vulnerability with which we accept what happens around us. After a lot of experimentation, during the workshop with Jacob I was lucky enough to come close to what photography is for me. I want to create images that tell a story, that look like a film still. I select people that I feel close to and places that reflect human absence in a way that can be connected with the portraits and create a story.


Photography is the way that I can express all I feel and think in my everyday life. I think that the idea of Home is not a simple one. It is tied to who you really are - true emotions, true circumstances. This project is a starting point for me to find it.


The Photography Centre of Thessaloniki is a nonprofit organization that was established over 20 years ago. In Greece, it has became well known for its continuing advocacy for art photography and its programme of exhibitions and other events (such as street happenings, school guided tours, media campaigns). Since mid-2000, its activities have expanded around the world with its involvement, as a founding member, in the Photofestival Union and World Union of Photography Centres. The Photography Centre of Thessaloniki has also become known in the Balkans over the last 15 years, through the development of collaborations and exchanges with individual photographers and important institutions and organisations that foster photography with events promoted under the umbrella “Aspects of Balkan Photography”. The Photography Centre of Thessaloniki aims to establish an international forum for exchanges and research into photography.

In order to achieve this, it:- Promotes education in fine art photography, with programmes for both photographers and audiences. - Supports photography as art, as part of a broad field of interaction between the arts and society. - Works towards the development of a strong dialogue about art and photography, what they deal with today and how they express themselves in relation to any conflicting opinions, techniques, characteristic expressions and contexts. - Organizes exhibitions of Greek artists (multidisciplinary and interactive, where possible), aiming to promote Greek artists and their work in Greece as well as abroad. - Produces cross-cultural exhibitions aiming to exchange experiences, familiarise Greeks with today’s contemporary European spirit and foster individual and collective networks.

Published by Delmar Gallery, Sydney in collaboration with the Photography Centre of Thessaloniki www.fkth.gr fkth@fkth.gr HOME 10 May - 7 June 2015 Curated by Jacob Aue Sobol and Sun Hee Engelstoft Toured by the Photography Centre of Thessaloniki Part of Head On Photo Festival, 2015 Copyright remains with the authors. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited. DELMAR GALLERY Trinity Grammar School 144 Victoria St Ashfield NSW 2131 Australia www.trinity.nsw.edu.au Front cover image: Lukas Vasilikos Inside page 8: Panagiotis Skalkotos Exhibition installation photography by Silversalt, 2015



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