Cities masks and bodies

When I first came across photographs by Giannis Voulgarakis, I immediately though of this title. Reading the book once more, I was convinced that Giannis' photos had many things in common and shared the same atmosphere with this particular edition.

This photography exhibition consists of three sections under the title “Cities Masks and Bodies”. The sections do not document specific events but process shreds of reality and prove that photography's ability to represent in relief the sight of the world is an entirely personal matter.

In the two first sections, Giannis studies the human body and tries to examine and express his own approach to how beautiful and ugly, true and false are defined and to how the eye has learned to distinguish all these by following specific, firmly established stereotypes. In the first series we can see female bodies, naked and wounded, curved and stricken with time, bodies that each one has to tell a personal story, a likely painful adventure that hides an essential truth for the mortal flesh.

By contrast, the dolls confined in windows pose smugly, looking at passers-by through their inexpressive masks with the same apathy. Well-shaped bodies, with the perfect measurements, alienated figures that promote the idol of how someone should look like, transformations of the artificial and temporal female character.

A contrasting coexistence, emphasized to the edge, between young, stretched and cold faces with high cheekbones and flat forehead and the broken and wounded human body, sunk deep in a calm internal balance, odd and nevertheless provocative.

In the third section, Giannis embarks for a journey to the neighborhoods in Athens city center, such as Metaxourgeio and Exarheia. Walking and wandering around in the city makes us see a series of night images of Athens in fragments, a city of senses and decay, of charm and declension. Indistinct figures and spaces emerge through intense color combinations that reflect an emotional, attractive and at the same time heartbreaking melancholy.

Giannis shows us his own view of the world consisting of emotions of affection, loneliness, anxiety and oppression, a world full of doubts and obsessions, a dark and yet magic world.

Curated by: Dr. Nina Kassianou, Historian of Photography, Artistic Director M55 projects