From 1975, for at least a decade, Greek photography remained anthropocentric and attached to straight depiction. Yiorgos Depollas, began his unique journey in the Greek countryside, photographing people he met on his way. This series of photographs, inspired by deep humanism and of interest regarding the living conditions of these people, is perhaps the first example of the path that led to the photography which John Stathatos calls New Greek Photography.
Recent years have seen the emergence into publicity of an increasing number of unknown documents, including manuscripts, texts and photographs, whose effect has been to stimulate established opinions and political instincts. These documents, often fragmentary and ambiguous, rarely contribute much to a more thorough understanding of power games, while their assessment by the mass media, based upon current events and influenced by fragile political circumstances, usually does little more than muddy the already murky waters.
Yiorgos Depollas ‘S 13 Strange Death is an enigmatic contribution to the conspiracy theory industry. In this context, nothing is ever either fully revealed or definitively hidden; the polysemy of meanings carbines with an endemic climate of perplexity to form a perfect couple: one that can exert a precisely graduated degree of pressure, whilst simultaneously feeding the public’s latent appetite for fables.
‘The imaginary and the real’, ‘the manufactured and the natural’, ‘the personal and the social’ and ‘the photographic mirror and the photographic window are terms that despite the fact that they show two opposing views of the photograph cannot be separated in Art photography and they themselves cannot explain their differences.
The birth of the insane asylum, the place where mental illness was isolated from society, can be attributed, according to Michel Foucault1, to the practice of the mass committal of wandering outcasts (the unemployed, beggars, invalids, syphilitics, epileptics and degenerates) to the Hospital Gιnιrale, founded in Paris in 1655.
Yiorgos Depollas’s latest exhibition entitled Inlook, held in December 2003 at the Fotografiko Kentro Athinon (Photography Center of Athens), seemed singularly strange at first glance, even for one acquainted with the photographer’s earlier work, which is often sprinkled with a critical approach and his particular brand of humor. The distributed press release confused things somewhat by saying that the exhibition had a two-pronged approach: on the one hand, it deals with the “particularities, advantages and values” of the Greek people and on the other, with “the views, correlations and impositions” that dominate the contemporary art scene.
On Friday, 27 February 2015, those who were in the city of Volos had the opportunity to experience such a contact with Yiorgos Depollas, who presented his nearly fifty-year path in the photographic area, through pictures of different connections of his work, as a guest of the Photographic Club.
I always had a particular feeling for those lonely old men who stand looking at the sea, thoughtfully gazing nowhere. I suggest, I suppose, that this has to do with the idea of an affair that some people have with the sea and with the idea of resignation of loneliness, a classic psychological condition, something like ‘The End’.
The status of photography as art was questioned for much of its historical course. To a much lesser degree did photography doubt art or itself. Yiorgos Depollas, a renowned photographic joker, in the series Inlook (2003), on the occasion of the international exhibition Outlook, which took place in Athens that same year, castigated one aspect of contemporary art: themes of an anecdotal nature with a pompous presentation commented the often insipid way photography adopted idioms of the broader art domain.
The theme of Yiorgos Depollas’s series of photographs On the Beach is, at least at first glance, a particularly popular aspect of modern Greek life: summer recreation at the seaside with activities as variant as the height of the waves. Yet how did the Greek beach become baptised as the font of rejuvenation and the playground for summer romping?
When browsing through the album On the Beach, one thing is certain: at some point the reader will smile. The reader will realize that the dark aura enveloping the bodies of the bathers hints at their consecration, at their transubstantiation into characters of a very personal mythology. He or she will realize that with these photographs, Yiorgos Depollas does not describe situations, but tells stories with a smile drawn upon his own face.
I saw these photographs in February of 1977, the same day I met Yiorgos Depollas for the first time. My mind went immediately to the works of Paul Strand and the portraits he had photographed in France, America, and Italy and which I had seen, not so long before, in a major exhibition in a museum in London.
Some months ago, talking with Yiorgos about his future plans, he told me he wanted us all to meet again in a photographic ‘series’. The idea was to take photographs of all of us who had met together fifteen years ago (when we were looking for solutions to the creation of the Photography Centre of Athens) as well as all the other younger friends who had met us later on and had stayed with us until today