Photobiennale gets under way

Cuts in state funding as well as those resulting from a logistical mistake in the past two years could have hurt the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography’s biennial institution. In spite of it all, the 2010 Photobiennale will remain, at least for this year, on the map of European photography festivals, alongside Rome’s Fotografia and Madrid’s PHotoEspana – a place it has rightfully gained after 21 years. The biggest photography event in Greece, despite its financial difficulties, has opened its four-month cycle themed «Topos» (Place), the second part of its thematic trilogy, which started in 2008 with «Chronos» (Time) and will end in 2012 with «Logos» (Discourse). With a program «adapted to the current economic crisis and a management plan – with sponsorships, joint productions as well as 44 collaborations with institutions and organizations – that does not limit the quality,» according to museum director Vangelis Ioakimidis, art venues and galleries around Thessaloniki are hosting exhibitions in which the concept of place is portrayed through four different approaches. First, there is the «place» in the geographical sense, as depicted in photographs from journeys, in research and in locations that are of particular geographical, historical or even personal interest. Then we have place as an inherent part of history, where photographers become the witnesses of historical regions and the references to collective or individual memory are pivotal. The third category refers to place as the result of a construction, namely places that artists create themselves, that come up in theater or in the natural environment where artists intervene. The last is the artist’s own microcosm, images where the place is only an excuse for the photographer to bring out social, political or existential issues. Among these places one can find Pavlos Fysakis’s «Land Ends,» featuring four spots on the horizon: Gavdos island in southern Greece, Nordkapp in northern Norway, Cabo da Roca in Portugal, and the Urals mountain range in western Russia. Nikos Markou’s «Topos: Nuances of Space,» a Thessaloniki Museum of Photography production, explores the concept of a quest and focuses on the photographer’s travels around Greece. His natural and urban landscapes reveal uniqueness and difference. Vassilis Vrettos’s «The Marble Masons of the Acropolis» record the restoration and conservation work of the Acropolis monuments, taking visitors back to antiquity and allowing them to ponder the consequences of the damage that time does on places as symbols of historical memory. Costas Ordolis’s «Shapes and Shadows from the Theater» brings out the poetic dimension of theater, where bodies and objects are highlighted through the endless battle between light and shadow. Italian Bruna Biamino brings symbolic places from Israel that carry an important historical burden, through landscapes from the Dead Sea and the Negev and Judaean deserts. In «Time Within Us,» 15 artists from Turkey, Russia and Greece showcase the contemporary creative tendencies of the three countries through 150 photographs that were presented at the Istanbul Modern. Polish photographer Tomasz Moscicki displays images from his six trips to Mount Athos, between 2001 and 2009, printed using the gum bichromate process that is reminiscent of painting. Stratis Vogiatzis’s «Inner World – Chios» depicts indoor venues from 24 of Chios’s mastiha villages, revealing a way of life that no longer exists and Lizzie Calligas’s impressionist works contain photographs from the transfer of the Acropolis marbles to the new Acropolis Museum. The series «Out on a Limb» by Myrto Papadopoulos, winner of the Cedefop competition at the 2008 Photobiennale, focuses on construction work, while the winners of the «Imagine a New World» competition will present their outlook on what constitutes a «new world.»

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