ARIS GEORGIOU, ...imon progonon...

ARIS GEORGIOU, "...imon progonon..."

Black and white photographs 1987-1990. Photographs from eight archaelogical sites: Athens, Delphi, Delos, Dion, Epidaurus, Thasos, Knossos, Samothrace. Macedonia - Thrace Bank, Thessaloniki, 1990. (Bilingual, greek-english). Texts by Antonis Anezinis, Dimitris Pantermalis, Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Aris Georgiou. 120 pages, 98 duo-tone photographs, 27x27cm., hard cover.


From the periodical Foto Pratica, No 278, Milan, February 1993

Our ancient forebears, those who are referred to in the title of ".. ημών προγόνων...”, are the ancient Greeks. This book of photographs by the Greek architect and photographer, Aris Georgiou, deliberately harks back to a past age — and what an age! — but it also develops a meditation — a visual meditation, in fact — on a past which is experienced, studied and consumed in the present. It is a book of very fine black-and-white archaeological photographs taken between 1987 and 1990 at Delphi, Dion, Delos, Epidaurus, Thasos, Knossos, Athens, and Samothrace. But it is also a book of photographs which asks the attentive observer a number of questions relating to how difficult and complicated for the ordinary viewer may be the photographic representation of a group of archaeological sites. How should one approach these photographs?

The present writer knows little about archaeology or ancient Greek history; and though he thinks he realises that such sites as Argos and Mycenae are missing because they belong to Mycenaean civilisation and not Greece’s classical period, still he cannot understand why Knossos is included and places like Olympia and Corinth are left out. Can his inability to understand be due to his ignorance of the Engish language (the text of the book is in Greek and English)? Possibly — but not solely. A book which is based chiefly on visual images cannot rely on the written word alone to convey its fundamental concepts. Unlike, and in contradistinction to, other photographers, Georgiou turns his attention exclusively to archaeological sites, and completely ignores the modern urban environment in which they now belong. It is a very wise choice and enables him to avoid offering us a presentation which would in the nature ot things be fragmented and pointlessly differentiated. The book is interesting in that it presents the archaeological sites both as places with monuments and as places where there are gathered ruins or symbols which can be perceived only as such by the people who visit them. It is in this experiential relationship between visitors and sites — a relationship that is conveyed by specific photographs, amongst the monuments and the ruins, and that ranges from mass tourism to recreation and studious interest — that the real present of archaeological areas (not only in Greece) is to be found. The day of the “photograph album” is past, as is the age of the grand tour. Accordingly, Aris Georgiou’s book of photographs is a contribution to the new practice of archaeological photography which is scientifically methodical but at the same time sensitive to the ways in which non-specialists will make use of its knowledge.