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.

Out Of Place

Views From Expatria. Photographing Place and the Self In Transience

My project considers the role of place, and its relationship to the transient condition of being in ex-patria. Expatriation means the decision made by an individual to leave one’s home temporarily and re-settle in another country. Expatriation is different from immigration, which implies permanence. Expatriation is a form of transience. Frequent transits, a common drill for ‘expats,’ are associated with the psychosocial experience of leaving one’s home for another.

Transient citizens like myself face the complication of perpetually losing, de-rooting themselves from a place they could call ‘home’. Being an expatriate for more than 10 years and feeling like a perpetual traveler, within today’s ease of global mobility, I am concerned with the way social and psychological circumstances of ‘expatriation’ affect one’s imagery and how does this imagery inform the lives of others. Here, psychosocial extensions refer to specific social interchanges with others, material objects and the environment, that give way to certain human behaviors, for example; complex social interactions, attachment to home, place demystification, and chronic culture shock, to name a few.

Hence, the portfolio contributes creative parallels to the notions of transience, impermanence, and the state of being “out of place” (out of home). Can one in fact be “out of place” when everyone around him is “in place”? I wonder. What psychosocial mechanisms are at play and how do they affect the way one views places?

Within these themes, my subjects are grass blocks, protective barriers, prints of trees used in scaffoldings, vegetation, landforms for territorial marking, ornamental trees, water features, and gazebo objects. These are my protagonists that are seemingly universal in a state of banality, impermanent and somewhat displaced. More like the feeling of being an expat, metaphorically speaking. They look like they intervene in nature with a cause that is not really straightforward. I encounter them by accident in cities I reside, study and travel, therefore they are not bound to a specific geographical territory, its politics and cultural history. It takes a certain type of citizen with a particular “relevant” history to these countries, cities and/or sites to be able to empathically recognize their subtle, almost mundane presence and hence their causality and importance.

Drawing from art and landscapes studies, psychology, migration studies, human geography, my work opens up a discussion about
photographic place and psychosocial complex feelings of the self in transience.


Yiannis Galanopoulos