University Studio Press,Thessaloniki 1996. 123 duo-tone and colour photograph. Trilingual: greek / english / french. Texts: Aris Georgiou, Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Leonidas Antonakopoulos, Jean Arrouye, Ioannis Epameinondas, Elisabeth Foch, Sofia Kazazi, Dorothea Kondeletzidou, Sania Papa, sakis papadimitriou, Niki Loϊzidi, Angelo Schwarz, John Stathatos, Efie Strousa, Jean-Marie Verlet.184 pages, 28x21cm. Hard cover.


Two or Three Opening Remarks

University Studio Press, THESSALONIKI 1997

The points of view, opinions or preferences that I tend to utter in the text which follows are expressions, at times categorical and at times hesitant, of the preoccupations that accompany, support or shake to its foundations a particular course through life. In the passing years I have often noticed that I have, almost automatically, taken action to correct my path. That this has occurred at all is due principally to the acquisition, albeit delayed, of knowledge which my own negligence may have denied me, but which time has eventually insisted on bestowing. And time, like knowledge, is endless.

So some of the points of view, opinions or preferences expressed here are temporary. The question of how many will survive to outlive others that may alter will not be a measure of the "prudence" or "folly" of this project. It will simply be further proof that photography and writing, two ways of providing a type of record, are themselves no more than boundaries -- boundaries in time, for the most part, between what went before and what comes after.

This glance at the past could perhaps have been arranged under stylistic headings, rather than following the simple flow of time. That would have been more tedious for the reader, however, and more difficult for me. So, for better or for worse, my account will follow the hands of the clock, the months, the years. Perhaps a little selfishly, this approach will meet my need, after so many years in the field off photography, to weigh in the balance what has been a rather multi-faceted career and to assess the results either personally or with the assistance of third parties.

The reader will find it easy to understand the two-fold, parallel approach which has been adopted. The framework of these retrospections consists of a personal narrative (in Helvetica print) which feels free to discuss problem areas as the need arises. This narrative is backed up, wherever such resources existed, with passages (in Century print) written by other people or by myself in direct or indirect response to smaller or larger parts of the work. The whole book is divided into two halves, A and B, which correspond to two approximately equal periods of time.

By way of a foreword

In 1974, I was still an architecture student at Montpellier when Maurice Saltiel— secretary of Techni, the Macedonian Artists' Association, and an old friend of my late father's—took me by the hand and led me to Dinos Christianopoulos, telling me to show him my work, I was doing a lot of painting and drawing at the time, not to mention photography, and Dinos Christianopoulos came to my house to see my portfolios and pictures. That first encounter, at the age of twenty-three, with the Thessaloniki poet and prose writer was a hard blow to me. But it was also the start of a dialogue, chiefly with myself. The "principles" Dinos Christianopoulos set before me seemed at first to be insurmountable obstacles. But gradually, as my own inner promptings persisted, his principles and his objections (or reservations) became a kind of sparring partner, and I stopped trying to dodge them. My insistence on going my own way, along with the continuing esteem I felt, and still feel, for his firmly-held beliefs, established, I think, a climate of mutual respect between us and a dialogue which, for me at least, has been a constructive one. Some years on, in my forties, I am not easily shaken by anyone's "principles"; that on-going dialogue I had with those of Dinos Christianopoulos—as well as other, parallel dialogues—has led me to develop principles of my own.

In 1974, at about the same time as I met Dinos Christianopoulos, I also met Sakis Papadimitriou, though I was unaware of the precise connection between them at the time. In the years that followed, music, improvisation, "composing" in general, photography, the visual arts, translating, organising cultural events, and books kept us in constant communication with each other and led to an association that was, I believe, fruitful for us both. Sakis may not have felt the same need to affirm his choices, being eleven years older than me and accordingly more experienced; but it mattered a great deal that he trusted me enough to take risks. What really counted in our time together was the all-embracing nature of our interests, our devil-may-care conviction that whatever happened we'd come out on top in the end, and, needless to say, the fact that we were constantly branching out into new fields.

In 1975, I was in my fourth year at university when my professor of architecture, Jacques Artigues, told us: "Try to solve your problem. Judge your solution for yourselves. If you see that it works, keep it. If not, start again." How simple! How wise! It is one of the few things I have retained from my studies. I apply it whenever I need to, adapting it to circumstances, as required.

In 1992, at the age of forty-one, I have been back in Thessaloniki for fourteen years, after two years at the Higher Business School in Athens (1969-71), and seven years studying architecture (1971-7) and doing a post-graduate course in town-planning (1977-8) in Montpellier. During these fourteen years, a great deal has happened in Thessaloniki, and I have done quite a lot myself too.

Let us take another backward glance.