A productive shutterbug fest

Most new cultural institutions in the Greek countryside are doomed to be short-lived. They rise and shine when they are founded, only to disappear soon afterward due to their lack of financial support. The event, Kythera Photographic Encounters, initiated by photographer Yiannis Stathatos, which were just held for the fifth consecutive year, seem to be the exception and to have followed a strong course so far. They have drawn a sufficient number of photography students, as well as photographers. They have struck a balance between exhibitions and the study of photography, while they have managed to secure their financial independence. Therefore, although the island of Skopelos has not succeeded in holding on to its privileged relationship with photography, Kythera, judging from this year’s event, has been strengthened year after year. «We very consciously chose the term ‘Encounters’ over ‘Festival.’ Our goal was to turn the island into a meeting point for people who love photography. We wanted young people to benefit from the presence of older people and to present exhibitions and projects that shed new light into both historical and modern photography,» said Stathatos to Kathimerini. Undoubtedly, one of the institution’s greatest advantages is its location. The island of Kythera is ideal for an autumn photographic rendezvous, with its beautiful exhibition areas, such as the Potamos British School and the Patrikia School in Karavas, and the nature of the island simply calls out to be caught on film. This year, the Encounters events added another motive for the participation of photographers who are just beginning their careers. A new prize was instituted for artists up to the age of 35, with the winner earning a personal exhibition as well as a catalog the following year. This year’s winner, Hara Varsamidou, presented a series of extraordinary portraits and came from a group exhibition of young artists who were proposed by 11 experts on the Greek photography scene. Among the events that stood out, one should not omit the very good exhibition by Yiannis Kostaris, who recorded the private time of today’s young people and stole moments from their daily lives. Equally interesting was Lambros Logothetis’s effort, who specializes in environmental photography and presented shots of landscapes and the migrating birds that stop at Antikythera. The display of British photographer Susan Trangmar, who spent two years in Israel and Palestine, as well as the «Para thin’ Alos» exhibition of old photographs of swimmers from the collection of Nikos Politis, curated by Stathatos, were also striking. In the study of historical photography, Haris Yiakoumis’s lecture about an unknown incident in Greek and Turkish relations which took place in Asia Minor’s Focea in World War I was particularly interesting.