Photographes by Aris Georgiou, text by Elisabeth Foch. Schema and Chroma Publications, Thessaloniki, 1993. (Bilingual, greek-french). 98 pages. 24x24cm., 69 colour photographs.



Elisabeth Foch


From the book In Search of Crimson / Women in Red
Photographs by Aris Georgiou, text by Elisabeth Foch
Schema and Chroma, Thessaloniki 1992.

Why should a man decide to set off on the trail of women in red ? Does he himself know the reason for this ? What lies behind his chromatic obsession ? Is he fully aware of it himself ? Does he mean to accuse women of stealing the colours of the male ? Does he wish to win back for himself, like the magnificent frigate-bird decked out for the courting season, the colour he regards as his own? Or does he feel like a bull provoked by the matador's cape ? Can it be that he dimly remembers a red-clad figure or russet hair hanging over his crib and lighting up with this most primary colour all the things he was destined to feel ? Or does he perhaps recall from even longer ago that time when a misty light shone into the glimmering womb, pulsed, flickered and suddenly faded ?

In the wedding procession, in the granting of mortality, life and vision, the colour red is always there to attract and magnetise our glances. Even when one closes one's eyes, red is still to be seen through closed eyelids. Without any doubt, it is enthroned in the furthest depths of our memories, and the simple click of a camera shutter is enough to give it a voice, as in this invitation to follow the "Women in Red" on a joint expedition, an expedition which develops in a simple way, at the pace of everyday life, like a heart beating.

So, women in red, no less. All else (age, place, circumstances) is set aside. Only red counts, and it is declined in the feminine plural to the point where it becomes an obsession. How do you follow it, persecute it, provoke it, make it spring out, tame it, impress it, nail it down, flatter it, frame it, glorify it, immortalise it ? To do all that, you need to apply it to its alter ego : woman. And then, with a single step, you have set out on a long march, virtually a quest, expected to lead to a discovery. At its far end darkness erupts like an explosion : red is the first of all the colours, the most chaotic, the most powerful, the one which first appears alongside life and which departs along with it. Women carry it in the deepest part of their being, within all that contained violence whose ambiguity they are prepared to answer for. One need only see how woman adorns herself in red and makes it speak of everything : nobility, vulgarity, allure, revulsion, purity and defilement, passion, intoxication and drama, anger and serenity. With the grace of a priestess she uses it like a magic potion : the pointed tip of a red pepper on a plate, an armful of dahlias in church, a touch of lipstick or rouge, a vibrant shade on the fingernails, a drop deep in the pharynx, a silk square round the neck, an umbrella in the rain ...Red can be found everywhere in her daily life. It accompanies both her work and her pleasures, for better or for worse. And at the turn of her life, when black has quenched her allure, a hidden trace of red still remains in a glance which is worn out from all it has seen.

That is the message imparted by these women who array themselves in glorious red and enhance still further the magic of this flame-colour. A touch of red sparks off life-giving energy which we are all prepared to worship as our most intimate and our most universal possession. Let us follow its trail as we would the purple cloud ejected into the water by that mysterious Mediterranean mollusc, the murex. In antiquity its precious juice was very expensive indeed; in Rome only the emperor and conquering heroes had the right to dye their clothes with it. Triumphant, born in the imperial purple, women have taken it over. They have given it a meaning, the meaning of life itself. At times one fears losing it, like the words on the tip of one's tongue, which you must write down quickly before they disappear, here on the paper, black on white, side by side with red..