Artist statement

Photography represents for me a highly creative, never-ending mind game, where novelties are created under flexible rules and flexible objectives. Success or failure within that context is less important than the process itself. On the whole, I consider art making an expression of self-definition, self-fulfillment and freedom to play.

Although creation is a process in flux, the core drivers of my work are the ‘anticipation of a discovery’ and the ‘need for experimental versioning’. Through an urge for discovery, I have adopted modes of working from that of a flâneur to that of a precautions retoucheur, doing everything in postproduction. ‘Experimental versioning’ is indeed one of the reasons I became an artist. Within this realm, I am allowed to create art, pose peaceful objections to ideas, master narratives, vernacular iconography and position myself in the spatiotemporal coincidence of the here, the now, the future and the everlasting.

I currently work in digital, however the traditions of fine art b/w and color analog photography still inform my practice. My portfolios Seafront Views, Specimens of American Suburbia No Place Architecture, Unmanned and Inanimate and World of Immaterial Objects, I favor finding my subjects in the immediate environment, as opposed to constructing a reality in the studio. Residing in different countries and taking pleasure from wandering suburban areas are the reasons for developing a strong ‘sense of place’ and for questioning it though my creative processes. In Specimens of American Suburbia, which delves with Place Identity and Photographic Representation, I focus on suburban places and architectural structures, which I encounter by accident. As a matter of fact, I never plan, or hardly ever go back to the same place for a retake.

While shooting in Greece, the US, the UAE, France, or elsewhere, I leave out information that can reveal the place’s origin. I intend to show that these areas can exist ‘anywhere and nowhere’. Under this condition, their identity becomes fluid, as they are no longer attached to a map, but inhabit a non-geographically designated place. An ‘anonymous’ place designated by the use of the medium, in the context of post- New Topographics landscape photography. The aggregation of multiple out-of-context places, however, in a portfolio elevates this anywhere/nowhere approach into ‘somewhere’. This ‘somewhere’ is neither urban or suburban nor real or unreal. It is a place, where skies are always blue, where one can find many colorful architectural curiosities. These, in turn, hail the viewer to visually and mentally interact with the work and alter the places into what I like to call ‘adversely possessed hyp-urbias’.

There are no people appearing in them, but somehow they do through the traces they leave behind. To push the envelope further on this, by not capturing people I don’t mean to create a deadpan view of the world. On the contrary, I intensify human presence, as people subliminally appear not only through remnant material objects, but also through the coincidence of my encounter with this or that place, my will-to-create a version of what I saw, the place itself, and the historical context about the place.

I continue capturing dystopian landscapes; that is ambivalent in terms of place identity and photographic representation. I am looking to elaborate on the notions of photography and place identity by tracing their relation to current western trends of artistic iconography, human geography, psychology, and architecture.

Cover Girl

There are more than 130 woman magazines in circulation worldwide. Most of them are featuring portraits of healthy (mostly young), beautiful and charismatic females advertising commercial products, services, know-how and live-how ideals. Undoubtedly, ever since the invention of the daguerreotype, what makes a successfully marketable portrait/cover is the physiognomic beauty and the emissive femininity of the featured cover girls. So inextricably linked are the face on the cover with the commercial output of a magazine that in colloquial language, we affluently use the term: “The Face of this or that magazine”…But how can a face speak of one’s identity? Is there any chance that the female face, under this context of branded femininity, is just empty of idiosyncratic substance? Is there a chance that the female face has become just another decorative element in the illustrator’s palette, there to sublimate a constructed beauty cannon for the masses and nothing else? If not, what is inherent in a face that could speak volumes about a woman’s identity? Is it a half Mona-Lisa-type of smile, a grim expression, a squirm or just the shape of her nose? To reexamine these Post-Renaissance, but still current questions and partake in the discussion in society around portraiture, femininity, gender, consumer culture and identity construction, I shot candid portraits of anonymous women in various places around the globe. I then proceeded with digitally compositing props around these women, in order to embed to them a false, quasi-semantic, quasi-purposeful identity.

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Artist:

Yiannis Galanopoulos