Evi Karagiannidi: Photographs carry proof that randomness is justified, that it is part of a coincidence, and even “nothing” is not something random
We know that photography is “evidence of an incident”
Do you also believe that there is a “wonderland”? Is the photographer a young child-viewer who makes an innocent approach?
We live inside the “miracle” every day, we wake up and feel healthy; in fact, lately we have strongly realized it, but I understand that your question is based on the portfolio entitled “The Camera in Wonderland”.
I was born and raised in a neighborhood of Athens with small houses and gardens. It remains a miracle if I walk among the smells and memories of my childhood, with a carefree sense in whatever I see and feel. I learnt life away from the “social lessons” and “obligations” of everyday life in the capital. During my residence at the Sirius Art Centre in Cobh, I felt like a child in front of an ocean liner while at the same time, I looked at our achievements with this humbleness. This is a legacy we carry in our DNA. Thus, I touched the truth of my identity as a person. I realized the need that society imposed on me to find idols, to see stereotypes and I spoke through the symbolism of the fairytale about the nostalgic feeling of this loss of innocence. The truth is that, if you are not going “to be”-to see “reality”—, then the image is of no use.
Do we photograph and record simply or do we capture what we already know so as not to forget it? Also, how do you imagine the future of photography?
We know that photography is “evidence of an incident.”
It is worth bearing in mind that in order to conceive an event, it is necessary to question, but without vacillating between the absolute event and the illusion of our imagination about the event itself. The truth of this controversy lies in photography and in the fact that we will never know “what would happen if.” With photography, the event itself is defined as unique, non-fungible and thus it touches the uniqueness of our own existence. In the times we live, the inability to recognize a true event due to its easy electronic-reproduction is emphasized. This weakness establishes photography (the recording of the world and events thanks to the light they reflect), as a means of image reliability and verification of a phenomenon. Perhaps, for this reason, we will continue to photograph in the future in the way we have known so far. Let me hold on to this view and ask for the certification of the photograph and the way it was taken, before I look at it.
It is fascinating to photograph cityscapes that are full of detail, often enigmatic. Is it also a freedom without end? Do you follow rules in your approaches and topics?
The history of photography, although short, has traditionally taught us that photography functions both as an exchange and as a reflection of the image of a person.
More particularly, photography is inextricably related to objects–human creations, to an idea-point of view, to an emotion. All this usually works in order to define a point or an event, which often touches us, within the saturated world of meaning and symbolism. I think that freedom in photography leads to the photography of “nothing”. In other words, when within color, within the shape itself, within the light or the lack of it, I do not see what I see, but simply with an expanded perception of perception I let myself into the “here and now”. That’s when sometimes, the image of the world I perceive, irreducible, is captured on the sensor or film and revealed instantly. It’s like photographing with my eyes away from the camera’s view finder, as if I’m not peeking out of its “back screen”. Besides, that’s how I start photographing, without seeing through the camera, I just make a random shot about the co-presence of humans and objects in the world. Yes, I believe in this “decisive” moment mentioned by Henri Cartier Bresson. This is the rule for me and maybe it is true, it works, because our world is oversaturated with pseudo-meanings and pseudo-aesthetics…
The photo is a note without words, it uses its own symbols. What do you think about the texts that often accompany photos?
In most of my photographs, “logos” is dominant and represents all the meanings of the word in the Greek language, this means analogy, cause and written/oral speech. The relationship between the image and the written word is a revelation that constitutes essential information and concerns the many readings of the uniqueness of the image. Certainly, the photographed subject has different interpretations and perceptions and is discussed from viewer to viewer. For example, in the photograph below, the title of its location, is very dynamic, for those who know the film Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni.
In the Halcyon Days project, the square frames in the forest are full of mystery without giving information. Is it an investigative process, a decision of self-discovery? In general, the photographic experience is (also) this? Is the photographer an important part of the photograph itself?
In the photographs of the book Halcyon Days, I follow the light of winter, I observe the dynamics of the harmony, the balance throughout the process of capturing the light on the sensor. It is something like a dance for me, it’s the moment when there is no difference in what you see and what you feel, if, as a photographer, you can remain within this balance.
Ultimately, the photographer’s connection to the light is inscribed on paper, subtle, sensitive, and it is connected to the essential truth of his/her existence.
In the familiar environment that I know from my childhood, which I used to visit frequently, I realize that my photographs record the reflections of our natural dynamics, and, within me, of the relationship between man and man, time and place and I admire its revelation.
Photography has brought into my life the proof that randomness is justified; it is part of a coincidence. Even “nothing” is not random. For example, I will refer to the process of fixing light on paper in the darkroom. There, I observe that the photographer’s concentration during the printing of the photograph leads to a commitment with boldness, to the acceptance that time changes with a different convention than the already accepted. That’s the one, time, that plays a decisive role in highlighting other forms that are not known–identified as “something.” The photographer’s freedom to determine the combination of forms in the photograph being printed is also an emotional process, irreplaceable.
What is your relationship with the camera? Is the photographer an important part of photography?
Difficult answer… I started when I was 9 years old, I got used to it. My relationship with the camera can be a relationship of dependence, although I proved to myself that I can do without it, but recently when I held it again, I felt that it took me for a walk to heaven. But, certainly, photography in my life is a pleasure, I would say a necessary one, just like paradise.
Your personal plans?
I don’t have any personal plans, I just photograph whenever I feel ready and then I combine my photographs into books, exhibitions. I frequently visit photography festivals, I travel and communicate with other photographers I follow, so my connection to photography remains constant and I would say that as the years go by, it becomes more and more intense. Besides, what interests most me is to photograph. Many times after a photographic walk, I do not look at the photographic results immediately, I scrutinize them later… after a long time, there is no rush.
I want you to tell me about your favorite photographer, how you approach him.
The photographers I have been influenced by are present in a unique way in my life. I will tell you the story of the discovery of my first favorite photographer. I am in the library of the Photography Circle lost in the world of the photographic moment, not knowing which book to start with. A friend of mine observes me, understands this difficulty, and advises me to “start with photographers whose last name begins with A”. Therefore, I opened the first book called Summer Nights, Walking by Robert Adams. Since then, I have been following him without knowing it. I was first impressed by Paris Photo in 2007 when I visited his retrospective exhibition at the Foundation Cartier pour l’ Art Contemporain. The next time was in 2010, in New York a day when I randomly found myself in Matthew Marks Gallery and I saw up close the exhibition of the book Summer Nights, Walking. I hope to visit an exhibition of Robert Adams’s works soon.
And a favorite city of yours…
There are some places in Paris with which I synchronize myself. Maybe it’s because photography has helped me with that, maybe it’s because the location just happened to offer the freedom that so many people have fought for, maybe because it is no coincidence that it is called “the City of Light”.
MFA in design and media communication, photographer www.evikaragiannidi.com
cofounder of Luminous Eye www.luminouseye.net