CULTURE

The city spotlight shines on the art of photography

As the work of photographers is increasingly appearing at art galleries and is in great demand in the art market, a large, annual event dedicated to photography presents a wealth of choices and captures the current status of photography as a medium in art. «Month of Photography,» which is the name of the event, comprises more than 20 photography exhibitions – both by international and Greek artists – spread across venues and art galleries in Athens. Organized by the Hellenic Center of Photography and its founder Stavros Moressopoulos, it is in fact one of the oldest projects in the area of photography in Greece. It was first held in 1987 and, with the exception of some intervals, has uninterruptedly helped advance Greek photography, enlarge its public and helped it enter the realm of art galleries. It is with this long-term objective in mind that Moressopoulos, originally an amateur photographer who had worked in the area of management, established the Hellenic Center of Photography back in 1986. Before that, he had been part of the small photographic milieu in Thessaloniki which had pioneered photography exhibitions in this country. Besides other collaborative projects, Moressopoulos established, as early as 1977, a magazine on photography called «I Photografia.» The magazine closed down a couple of years ago because, according to Moressopoulos, the magazine’s increasing focus on theoretical rather than technical matters had thinned out the interest in advertising. The first two «Month of Photography» events, in 1987 and in 1989 (the event started out as a biennial), were large projects that drew international attention and triggered exchanges of photography exhibitions with other European countries. According to Moressopoulos, this was also the first time that a great number of Greek photographers were given the chance to show their work internationally. Examples of the exchange program that the Hellenic Center of Photography had helped activate include the participation of Greek photographers at the Nice Audiovisuel Biennale of Photography and the presentation in Greece of the World Press Photo 1990 exhibition. At a time when, apart from the Photosynkyria project in Thessaloniki, there was very little happening for the exposure of photography in Greece, events such as these marked a significant contribution in the field. With the change of goverment in 1990, financial support was removed and it was not until 1997 and the cultural agenda of Thanos Mikroutsikos – then minister of culture – that the «Month of Photography» was relaunched. It was roughly at that time that the Skopelos Photographic Encounters were established. It was also then that the «Month of Photography» first collaborated with the Panhellenic Association of Art Galleries. Since then, a large number of the Athens galleries have hosted a photography exhibition (either of their choice or based on a suggestion of the organizers) each October. It is an arrangement that has achieved one of the initial objectives of the Hellenic Center of Photography, which is to get photography into the art galleries and to break the divisions between art photography and other genres in the medium. An abundance of exhibitions in Athens The «Month of Photography» for this year consists of 26 exhibitions held at art galleries and other cultural venues across Athens. Curated by Stavros Moressopoulos, «Allegories of Space and Time» at the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center is a group exhibition that gives a sense of contemporary Greek photography. An interesting exhibition on the theme of football, organized by the Magnum agency and the Goethe Institute, is being held at the Benaki Museum. The numerous solo exhibitions include the work of Barbara Crane, Mona Breede, Yiannis Stathatos and Florica Kyriakopoulos. For information on venues and exhibitions visit www.hcp.gr or www.cultureguide.gr.