CULTURE

A 61-day American road trip

Jack Kerouac said that all of life is a foreign country. So perhaps the journey might be nothing more than an effort to more easily accept the alienation we experience on a daily basis. Traveling means reconciliation and this struggle between what we consider «ours» and what is «foreign» is one of the most interesting and educational aspects of human nature. It could also be a yardstick by which we measure – and come to terms with – ourselves. Titled «Road Trip: USA. 16994.61,» photographer Yiorgis Yerolymbos’s fourth solo exhibition, which opens at the a.antonopoulou art gallery tonight, is part of a long journey. With a Fulbright scholarship, the photographer landed in New York on February 1, 2008, carrying only two cameras and a notebook. In 61 days, he drove 16,994 kilometers, traveling through 27 states, 35 big cities, nine national parks, four deserts and across three seas. While on the road, he took thousands of photographs, 11 of which are going on display for the first time on the walls of Angeliki Antonopoulou’s gallery. Visitors will also be able to leaf through 50 more images, of smaller size, which have been arranged in an album-like display. What could urge somebody to leave the security of his daily life and test his boundaries by wandering around a vast country? It must be more than just an adventurous nature. «It was a process of personal maturation. It was like pushing the restart button; I saw my life from a distance, I realized that the boundaries of my world are much wider. While driving, I found myself. It was a great experience and at the same time a tribute to the great photographers who familiarized us with America’s beauty through their amazing shots. I didn’t just want to be a consumer of their photographs, I wanted to test my own powers,» said Yerolymbos. Looking at the map of the distance covered, two horizontal red lines stretch from New York to San Francisco and back, with stops in places including Indiana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and Louisiana. Every shot portrays a different world with wonderful landscapes, avoiding the postcard concept. «I wanted to keep a distance from the obvious and at the same time be respectful and discreet toward all these wonderful places I had before my eyes. I also wanted to show how different all these places are. Louisiana and Montana are as far from each other in mentality and geography as Finland from Portugal. Still, most Greeks always talk about the United States as if it were a homogenous country. «Traveling helped me understand more deeply something I already knew: it would be wonderful if we Greeks had a substantial understanding of our country’s real value. We occupy a unique geographical location. This may sound like a cliche but I experienced it: The Grand Canyon and Death Valley were stunning but on the way from Athens to Thessaloniki you see lakes, beautiful mountains and plains, Mount Olympus. I have never seen such density anywhere. We often boast in a shallow way to foreigners about our beauty and then we go and construct monstrosities on these landscapes…» a.antonopoulou.art, 20 Aristofanous, Psyrri, tel 210.321.4994