A photo archive goes on display in Thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI – Leonidas Papazoglou’s rich photographic archive – which was saved almost by miracle – is showcased in «Photographic Portraits from Kastoria and its Environs at the Time of the Macedonian Struggle,» an exhibition currently on display at the Museum of Photography in Thessaloniki. The archive belongs to Giorgos Kolombias, who built the impressive collection over the years by gathering the works of the Kastoria photographer. The exhibition brings to light rare, previously unseen images of the town during the tumultuous early years of the 20th century. With a selection of more than 2,500 negatives in his hands, the collector studied Papazoglou’s archive extensively: Greek guerrilla fighters, Bulgarian partisans and Turkish soldiers, villagers and members of the middle and upper classes, all reflecting the region’s longstanding, multicultural character, where Greeks, Turks, Jews and Turkish-Albanians lived side by side. According to Kolombias, despite a certain amount of damage, the Papazoglou archive is of major importance for the history of photography. At the same time it reveals the qualities of a photographer who, nevertheless, lived in an Ottoman province: his gift of composition, his original point of view, and an ability to express peoples’ emotions as well as his excellent technique. It is precisely this excellent technique which prompted the Museum of Photography to include the exhibition as part of a tribute marking 100 years since the beginning of the Macedonian Struggle. The photos chosen for the exhibition portray scenes from the period before the independence of 1912, a transitional period in which Bulgaria and Greece were involved in a bloody dispute over the new lands, just before the end of the Turkish occupation. Meanwhile, in terms of sartorial tastes, this was also a period of growing European influence as opposed to traditional garb.