15.06.2018 - Aspects of Balkan Photography: For a common narrative

ASPECTS of BALKAN PHOTOGRAPHY: For a common narrative

Photography Center of Thessaloniki, for the twentieth year, continues the institution of Balkan photography meetings in Thessaloniki, under the general title “Aspects of Balkan Photography”.
This year, it organizes a series of exhibitions, thematic days, workshops, lectures, projections and other events in the city, where photographers from the Balkan countries participate.
In these events, major trends of contemporary photography are presented in this part of Europe. Some of them resulted from the cooperation of active centers of photography.
From the whole of exhibitions, one can clearly see the integrations and divergences of the European photography today, as far as it concerns the content of writing and form as well as certain particularities that characterize the mosaic of people that live in the Balkans.
This time we invite you to the wonderful building of Vila Petridis (located on Anagenisseos street, area of Thessaloniki’s Courts), that was recently renovated, for a special exhibition of photography, installations, artistic book and video-art.

Its title: “Aspects of Balkan Photography: For a common narration”
Curators : Vasilis Karkatselis, Vasilis Mantas and Aggelos Sofianidis.

Participants are:
Omer Tevfik Erten (TR ), Lyubomir Ignatov (BG), Iordanka Tenova (GR/BG), Serhat KIR (TR), Luka Klikovac (SRB), Andrea Shkreli (GR/AL), Berkay Yahya (TR), Kyriakos Katsareas (GR), Argiris Liapopoulos (GR), Thanassis Raptis (GR), Angelos Sofianidis (GR), Aleka Tsironi (GR), Zoran Todovic (SRB)/ Vana Urosevic (FYROM)

Opening: Friday 15th June 2018
Open:Monday to Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday12-6pm, closed on Sunday

Vila Petridi (Anageniseos str, Thessaloniki), tel..2310553992

Duration of exhibition: From 15/6 until 6/7/2018.

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With the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports
and with the collaboration of the Cultural Center of Thessaloniki


Aspects of Balkan Photography

Photography Center of Thessaloniki, with a pervasive agony about what is happening around and with a lot of curiosity, began to explore the uncharted landscape of Balkan countries photography, starting from Bulgaria even since 1996.
In 2001, after the incitement and the persistence of one of its co-founders Stavros Dagtzidis, Photography Cen­ter of Thessaloniki organizes the first “Aspects of Balkan Photography”. In the catalogue of this exhibition, for the first time, someone can find -except for the photography participations - documented essays of historians of Art and researchers from all over Balkan countries, with reference to the photography history of each one of the countries.
In this first attempt -as far it was possible -all tenses of Photography at that time, were presented. Dozens of Balkan guests participated in the conference organized by Photography Center of Thessaloniki , in which, there was a first attempt for the foundation of a center for Balkan Photography.
The years followed, we contacted the Photography De­partments of Universities while simultaneously we met a lot of important individual photographers. This network had been enriched and the bonds between us were more empowered by exhibitions where we participated together with Balkan photographers, in Greece and in cities like Istanbul, Beograd, Čačak, Sofia, Plovdiv and Burgas. These exhibitions were supported by editions and photography catalogues, thematic seminars and other activities.
The fruitful exchange of opinions has been going on until today, resulting in tightening of the relationships between us and building strong friendships. These friendship bonds, which are based mostly on our common references about European Photography, keep going on, are being enhanced and also renovated by regular exchanges of exhibitions, which give us new opportunities to organize more com­mon activities, discussions and create chances for more new photographers to bring their work out to a wider art public.

For a common narrative

It could be argued that a photographer's view cannot be restrained within territorial or temporal limits which can define and identify it. Even so, there are artistic schools or trends which are spatially defined, either based on a school that establishes typologies, such as Düsseldorf or Munich, or based on certain unifying elements of style that created a specific strong and recognizable trend, such as “North European Photography”.

Can Balkan photography be defined as a transnational school or trend?
Is there a dominant unifying element among the photographers of the Haemus Peninsula that can define it?
After almost two decades of networking Aspects of Balkan Photography and looking back on the series that have been presented by photographers from all the countries of the region (whether within the institution or not), it cannot be claimed that there is a specifically strong common element, either in aesthetics, form, content or another internal or external characteristic of their work, which can function as a unifying element for these works; one that would define the art of photography in this region and make it leave its mark on the global scene.
The works of Balkan artists, however, do converse in an underlying way. They line up one next to the other creating a mosaic that is not chaotic, but harmonious and well-formed, while at the same time it can be regional or not and even contradictory. That is because this unifying element among Balkan photographers stems from their common cultural elements and their shared influence by the events of our common history. The deep sense of familiarity that the Balkans feel when they travel to another country of the peninsula is well-known. We experience it every time we meet either in our country or theirs.
The same goes for this new production of the Photography Center of Thessaloniki.  We will see works of global scope, modern, interesting in every aspect and with something in common. All these different 'photo-stories' presented at the exhibition feel familiar and they form-or attempt to form- a common narrative about Balkan photography. A narrative which does not take shape like a puzzle in front of the eyes of the spectator, but is rather perceived by blending the aftertaste of each story.  

Angelos Sofianidis

Omer Tevfik Erten (TR)

My work on hate crimes has led me to shoot a series on the shelter problem of trans people: transevi (transhome). During and after the shooting of transevi, I received some insightful feedback on my work. As a result, I started to question the point of view of the photographer as a subject who perceives transgender people as victims. I came to understand that in the arts, trans people wanted to see stories in which they are portrayed as strong characters.
After gaining some experience in the intersection of activism and photography, I developed an interest in the storytelling aspect of photography, in which an emotional bond is formed between the photographer and the observer. In this context, I created the series Burçak in 2017. 

Lyubomir Ignatov (BG)
“Forget the who, the what, the when, the where, the why Did you love something with all of your might?”  Bane-Calling Hours

Iordanka Tenova (GR/BG)
Memories of one summer
The portfolio contains photos that I took last summer with my cell phone. They speak of many different emotions that fill my everyday life and remembered me of times that have past.

Serhat KIR (TR)
Through the objects and spaces that seem ordinary in everyday life, the city is in a production process within the political discourses, starting from personal approaches to issues such as the relationship between the individual and the city.
 In making such comparisons in his work he also considers this production process as a research process.
 A series of photographs with autobiographical values, some of which were made by the city and the ones by the urban individual, were published in 2016 by Frederic Lezmi and Marcus Schaden with the name "KANTAR".

Luka Klikovac (SRB)
Since the dawn of civilization, in all cultures and societies, death means an ending. It  accompanies us throughout our lives, it is unbiased, and its power is undeniable. It is exactly its power because of which it is usually displayed in various, mostly creepy, shapes and forms in literature, religion and art.
Although it does not seem that way at first sight, the notion of death is terrifying to a modern man for many reasons, and his perception of life is completely dislocated.
One of our ideals is the eternal youth. In other words, the essence of life is neither to live, nor to glance at the watch, nor to count the days, nor to await something, but to make time stop or at least slow down.

Andrea Shkreli (GR/AL)
Unstable Optical Fields
An old analog camera and four expired negative films were enough for this photographic series which took place in a transitional period of my life.
Having photography as only medium of communica­tion and exploration and having the need to seek (under difficult economic pressure) solutions and answers to problems, I photographed unawared daily news, events, photographic evolution and so on through the screen of my computer and television. Finally I rewinded the negative and captured new images on the same already exposed film.
So latent images were created, which are loaded with experiential stress in the development of personal sur­vival problems. Two years later, these negatives were by coinsidence discovered, developed, and these wonderful images are ready for interpretation.
Through the photographic series “Unstable Optical Fields” I found a new form of photographic expression beyond the “photographic standards”.

Berkay Yahya (TR)
The stone

The stone I couldn’t throw, the photo I couldn’t take...
The photobook “the Stone” which builds itself on memory, consists of the photos taken during my indecisive moments whether to take picture or being an actual part of the resistance. The work depicts the transformation process of Gezi Park protests around LGBT Blok between the dates of 31.05.2013 and 15.06.2013. It also aims to give a comparison between past and present through the qrcodes indicating the date and location of the photos taken. The Stone narrates the story of a stone, last out of three, picked up from the sidewalk on the night of May 31th to to June 1st and couldn’t be thrown

Kiriakos Katsareas (GR)
People who are transformed into heroes of a photographic narrative while stopping at bus stops. Body postures, cultural, emotional, political stances.
People alone. In pairs. More people or less people. Like a microcosm. So many and so different from each other. They may or may not want to meet. They have avoided, desired, chased, got tired, ignored. Unique, unprecedented figures within an equally unique composition. A line of microcosms never to be repeated.

Up close everyone’s existence is unique. The sum of a powerful differentiality. When viewing from far away, the distance alters that perception. It standardises and concentrates. The unique­ness collapses. Faces, expressions, aesthetics and body types become smaller and lean towards an undefined repetition. They form a motif where faces turn into dots. They transform and they become standardised. Human barcodes at bus stops like “products”. Tiles, Mosaics, As­phalt. But not only that. Within an absolute, monotonous, painful, flattening grey.

Don’t keep the distances.

Thanassis Raptis (GR)
Dead Souls day
The recent years we have been witnesses in wild slaughters of hundreds of innocent people: Usually in big populous cities all over the world, places of west type of entertainment get painted in blood of innocent citizens. Psychologically unstable people fully armed, spread death around in American schools, always under the tolerance of the law regarding gun possession! The images of hell from bombings and executions in cold blood of innocent people (especially kids) coming from battle fields and racial clearings, also flow in our screens. In all this barbarism another one is added, the loss of hundreds of innocent refuges and emigrants who get drowned in to the unwelcoming sea waters of South Europe.
In this video, images of the victims appear, since they are widely spread on internet, while at the same time we can hear the voice of an Orthodox priest who is reading the Christian names of dead people in a real ceremony of a Dead souls Saturday. In this way the Orthodox Church - even without knowing it- pays tribute to all these innocent victims -heterodox or of other religion- without taking the religion sign into account.
It is an utopian, strong desire of mine which can only take shape through the language of art!

Angelos Sofianidis (GR)
In the presented works, I tried to create artists’ book in which a theatrical work can be presented through photography simultaneously as the book of the play and the play scene.
The theatrical performances depicted on the books are “Kato Cosmos” (script: Rapti Maria, directed by Varvara Doumanidou, Blackbox, Thessaloniki 2016) and “Aristophanes’ Ploutos” (directed by Kimoulis Giorgos translated by K H Myris, Theatro Dasous, Thessaloniki 2016).

Aleka Tsironi (GR)
Identity Elements 
When in March 2014 was announced the abolition of the insurance civil service, in which I was already working for ten years, it was important to visualize the subject of my work. I started photographing people coming to issue the European Health Card in order to travel to European Union countries. If they asked me about the reason, I was replying that I was creating a personal record and that I was interested in the reasons for citizens’ mobility.
This project is an attempt to “portraise” the crisis through people traveling to study, visiting relatives who live permanently abroad, for educational purposes, tour­ism, health. This topic is a partial, subjective documenta­tion of the current reality, which pushes the people who are in it to seek, sometimes successful or not, their “place” outside the borders.

Zoran Todovic (SRB)/ Vana Urosevic (FYROM)
The glass from which one can drink water again
The project is based on the family story and diary of Vlada A. Popović, the paricipant in the Great War who, fleeing from the devastations of war, left his home together with his family and sought exile in Greece, where he stayed for almost three years, until the war ended. In the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 he lost even his temporary home. In his diary he writes how, while walking through the city, he suddenly noticed a glass in the middle of the cobbled street, still undamaged, while the old buildings on both sides were being swallowed by flames…
…Inspired by the diary, we created a book made of silk («Intersected Travelogues »), which consists of photo album prints of the German army and its campaign to the South (1915-1918), family photos, reproductions of Dadaist art (which emerged at the same time elsewhere in Europe), photographs of artefacts from this period, etc.
Through this project the glass returns to Thessaloniki after one hundred years.

One can drink from this glass again…