Photos shed light on dark worlds

The human casualties of the Sierra Leone civil war and the isolation of the North Korean regime are the chief focuses of two arresting new exhibitions of photography by the internationally acclaimed Yannis Kontos which are to be inaugurated tomorrow at the Frissiras Museum in Plaka by Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. The exhibition «North Korea: Red Utopia» comprises some 50 photographs from one of the world’s most secretive societies while the images in «A-pories» (a play on words between the Modern Greek word for «questions» and the Ancient Greek «insurmountable») suggest an absurdity behind global developments. Speaking to Kathimerini English Edition about the images from North Korea, Kontos said: «It took me three years to get access to the country and my photographic documentary managed to escape from the regime’s censorship. «The pictures provide their own answers to the ‘major riddle’ of Asia and shed some light on this country which is the focus of global debate after conducting its first nuclear test,» said Kontos who has produced some of his most powerful work during assignments in inaccessible and dangerous locations including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Kosovo. As for the «A-pories» collection, the 35-year-old artist and award-winning photojournalist described it as «a series of images which go beyond documenting developments in some of the most critical parts of the planet to hint at the existence of an absurd world.» According to the museum’s curator Thanassis Moutsopoulos, in Kontos’s work «the certainties of this world appear to collapse together with the monuments of the ex-Iraqi leader or the cities of former Yugoslavia.» The constant presence (and, perhaps, intrusion) of the media in the modern world is a recurring theme in many of Kontos’s photographs. «The television is omnipresent, in huts and ruins, in solitary apartments and hotel rooms, conversing with the subjects of Kontos’s photographs,» Moutsopoulos said. One of the most interesting features of the «A-pories» exhibition is Kontos’s documentary «Life as an Amputee» – an insight into the life of one of the thousands of people maimed in the Sierra Leone civil war – whose striking images have been reproduced in countless major international publications. Another arresting, and disturbing, highlight of the same exhibition is a series of photographs taken in a psychiatric institution for children in Aleksinac, Serbia. Kontos, who has received 19 international awards for his work including first prize in the «Contemporary Issues» section of the World Press Photo competition last year, said he was flattered that his new work is being showcased in a venue previously committed to more conventional art forms. «This exhibition gives a different dimension to my work as it is being shown in a museum which has traditionally been dedicated to European painting and is showing photography for the first time,» Kontos said. Both exhibitions are to run until May 13. Frissiras Museum, 3 & 7, Monis Asteriou and Kidathinaion, Plaka, Athens, tel 210.323.4678, 210.331.6027. For further information visit

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