July 16, 2013

Closer to Nothing Than "Something"

from: Quiet Lunch

Courtesy of Alexis Vasilikos
     Photographer Alexis Vasilikos spends his summers on a little tear of land, the Greek island Leros, tucked away in the Aegean Sea. It’s a pinprick on the world map; an obscured place, not easily found. In his images the viewer sees little corners of everyday life, things right outside the line of sight and easily forgotten.
     “I’m not seeking to capture anything in particular,” the native of Athens said. Vasilikos, who has been shooting over 18 years now, has an eye fine-tuned to the artistic spontaneity of nature. “What I enjoy to see is a kind of energy that stills the mind.” 
     What he does capture are scenes the common man might be quick to shrug at–a dark stain on a flowered tablecloth, a mass of corroded pipe, the patterns of a shadow, the symmetry of a fir. They are mostly every day things that could be seen anywhere in the civilized world, but when seen through Vasilikos’ lens they become pregnant pauses in an unknown life.
Courtesy of Alexis Vasilikos
     If the images seem senseless, lost, without any historical underpinnings, that’s the point. “The seeing is present,” Vasilikos explains. “We don’t need to get into any kind of story to see.” As the viewer, you’re only given what you’re given.
     With Jerome Montagne, Vasilikos co-edits Phases, the site portal for defined and emerging photographers. The Nothingness of All Things is Vasilikos’ title for his portion on the site. His portfolio is divided into ten different galleries, each marked with a vague title, which somehow fits.
     “The titles give a conceptual orientation to the mind,” he says. “I’m aware most people, because of our education, find it difficult to see without adding some kind of concept.” He wants the viewer to stretch their mind over the photos and worry less about context and more about the actual scene within the frame.
     His pictures soar from a warm summer afternoon bursting with crisp color, to a shadowy winter vision of something unidentified. There are intimate close-ups and distracted zoom outs, flowing rivers, and dogs, plenty of dogs. You’re never quite sure where you might be, or where it was you just arrived. Some of the photos have an unintended humor in them. One shows the arm of a cactus protruding from the open zipper of a male’s pair of pants. Another shows an older woman playfully boxing a cardboard cutout of Evander Holyfield. “There is an element of humor in life itself, a kind of cosmic joke,” Vasilikos explains. “We are aware of this when we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Courtesy of Alexis Vasilikos
     Vasilikos, who now uses digital, takes a very loose approach to his photography. He wants whatever meaning is derived to stay elevated, changeable. “There is no self during the shooting. The pictures don’t come from intention, so much,” he said. “They are a form of dancing with the play of phenomena, a kind of improvisation with whatever situation arises.”