These three photographic sections of Giannis Voulgarakis’ exhibition are under the title Cities Masks and Bodies, which is the translation in Greek of Michel Tournier’s collection of short stories Petites Proses. The writer uses in this edition the photography as a mediator in order to tell a story.
In the first section, Giannis embarks for a journey to the neighborhoods in Athens city center, such as Metaxourgeio and Exarheia. Walking and wandering around in the city makes us see a series of night images of Athens in fragments, a city of senses and decay, of charm and declension.
In the next two sections, Giannis studies the human body and expresses his own approach to how beautiful and ugly, true and false are defined and to how the eye has learned to distinguish all these by following specific, firmly established stereotypes.
Dolls confined in windows pose smugly, looking at passers-by through their inexpressive masks with consistent apathy. Well-shaped bodies, with the perfect measurements, alienated figures that promote the idol of how someone should look like, transformations of the artificial and temporal female character.
By contrast, female bodies, stricken with time, naked, curved, bodies that each one has to tell a personal story, a likely painful adventure that hides an essential truth for the mortal flesh. Bodies that coexist in places that are wounded, violated and sunk in human oblivion.
By using a rich colour fan, Giannis expresses his deep concerns about life. With the strong saturated colours, he talks about urban landscape’s alienation and hostility; with the plastic and fake contrast, he talks about the eternal loneliness of the doll-idol; finally, with the soft colour range, he talks about a body that is so real and at the same time so affected by time that has passed or that will pass over it with ruthless velocity.
Some of the most exciting intellectual ventures of the twentieth century are associated with memory. The theoretical reflection on history is of comparable and similar concern. This is particularly so for the reflection that permanently departs from an understanding of history as a realistic representation of the past, revealing a convergence area with memory. Photography, even on its early days, held an important position on this field. It functioned, on the one hand, as a recording apparatus, a substitute of memory and on the other hand, as lens of self-reflection, a self-portrait of the mechanisms that govern it. The bulk of the relevant photographic output over the recent years tends towards this latter orientation. The challenge: to escape from the static image representing history as a series of images that don’t intersect with our own lives and to wonder where we stand and in which direction to gaze when talking about the past.
"This exhibition attempts to trace the shades of history as a picture, and memory as experiential image material. Eleven photographers from Greece and abroad, browse their images on the walls. Some mold their memories setting autobiographical recordings (Bougiaka, Collett, Georgiades, Keulards, Rapti, Tsagaraki, Zipela, Zotou) others transform to their own material aspects of the history of their ancestors by visiting places they lived (Schmitz, Tamouridou). Elsewhere the performance of history’s images is commented backstage (Psaroudakis). These images do not intend to simply show. They are doing things, first for those opening the album and then for us, when poring over it".