Immersion in photography and cinema on isle of Syros

Located on an idyllic hillside on the island of Syros, the Photography Circle’s Syros branch is once again preparing its annual series of photography and cinema seminars for the new season. Established only last year, the Syros Photography Circle is the brainchild of Platon Rivellis, an established photographer, teacher and scholar of the history and theory of photography who founded the original, Kolonaki-based Photography Circle in 1988. Today, the Circle, as it is broadly dubbed, numbers 300 members whose involvement in black-and-white photography is both professional and amateur. The central aim of the Circle is to promote the art of photography through practice and theory backed by in-depth technical and artistic seminars, an extensive library of photography books, and state-of-the-art darkroom facilities. Furthermore, the Circle is responsible for a number of scholarly publications on photography written by Rivellis and books of photographs by the club’s members that have been previously displayed at the numerous exhibitions organized by the group. The new Syros Circle center, designed by Nana Karamangioli, is located approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) outside the island’s charming capital Ermoupolis, and has an extensive 250 square meters of living quarters, and an underground darkroom and teaching area of another 250 square meters, where the seminars are conducted. The center is built on a 6,200 square meter plot and constructed of local stone. The photography seminars are separated into technical and theoretical classes and are due to start in November 2002, running until May 2003, with weekly four-and-a-half hour classes that concentrate on the history of photography, aesthetic appreciation, comparative studies of the great masters of black-and-white photography – such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton Watkins, Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans and Robert Frank, to name just a few – based on slide displays of their work and oral presentations, as well as group or individual assessments of students’ work. On the technical side, students are taught how to use manual cameras, the art and technique of framing a shot, and black-and-white darkroom techniques ranging from basic to advanced level. Seminars are held at the Kolonaki branch on Wednesdays and at Syros on weekends. In the summer months, Rivellis conducts advanced photography seminars on Syros for members who have completed the first winter course. In 2001 Rivellis also established a series of cinema seminars that are conducted exclusively on Syros and concentrate on the great auteurs of world cinema. The seminars, which begin on Friday evenings and end on Mondays, are organized in cycles, each of which focuses on the work of a great cinematographer, such as Buster Keaton, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Carl Dreyer, G.W. Griffith, Jacques Tati, Wim Wenders, John Cassavetes, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rosselini, Vittorio De Sica, Fritz Lang, Murnau, Pabst, Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, Orson Welles, and others. The Circle also invites guest artists to conduct topic-specific seminars: Currently they are in the middle of a series on poetry and criticism, and are preparing a September seminar on fine printing with photographer Guillaume Geneste. All of the Circle’s courses are conducted in Greek, although Rivellis is fluent in both English and French and interested in organizing seminars in either language for groups. The Photography Circle, 44 Tsakaloff, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 010.361.5508; Amarandos, Kato Manna, Syros, tel 02810.791.64; website

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