Photography Center of Athens


... 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. In these portraits one can discern a morphological homogeneity unusual for the time. The point of view, the position of faces in the frame and their gaze - invariably turned to the photographic lens - demonstrate a consistently structured photographic unity in which one can see elements of taxonomic photography, still unknown in Greece.

The barren photographic landscape began to change gradually, mainly through what Yiorgos Depollas and other Greek photographers brought in from abroad where they had studied or worked. The founding in 1979 of the Photography Centre of Athens by five photographers - Costis Antoniadis, Yiorgos Depollas, John Demos, Nikos Panayiotopoulos and Stefanos Paschos - was decisive (After the departure of John Demos at first and Stefanos Paschos afterwards, the photographers Pericles Alkidis, Stelios Efstathopoulos and Socratis Mavrommatis joined Photography Center of Athens). Its primary aim was informing and acquainting the public with Greek and foreign photographers. It was a space exclusively devoted to photography, free from associations, organizations and societies, and open to any photographer who wanted to show his/her work. It exhibited work of photographers from other European countries, organized seminars and screenings, and managed to survive for twenty-five years, thanks mainly to the financial support of those who initially contributed to its creation and then to its functioning. Characteristic of the climate of the time was the response of Jean Claude Lemagny (then responsible for the photographic section of the National Library of Paris) to the announcement of the founding of the Photography Centre of Athens in a letter addressed to Yiorgos Depollas, on whose initiative the PCA was founded: "... I warmly congratulate you and your friends. In every country there is someone (Sue Davies in London, L. Colombo in Italy etc.) or some people who are striving for good photography. They are the avant-garde. It would interest me greatly to have any news concerning your activities. If I must pay a subscription, let me know and I will do so. In France it is the same, many are interested in creative photography but no-one buys! ... the harsh truth is that the avant-garde, whether through private or state vehicles, are always poor. Warm wishes and a Happy New Year". The Photography Centre of Athens gathered around it most photographers concerned with creative photography from the 1980s onwards. For a large period of time its role was also educational: through its programme of exhibitions it brought Greek photographers into contact with both European and American photography during a period in which no other similar activity was known in Greece.

Costis Antoniadis

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