Man vs nature

Motionteam/Ververidis

By Harry van Versendaal

Nikos Markou, widely considered as the link between the old and the new generation of Greek photographers, spoke to Athens Plus about his 10-year project, “Topos: Nuances of Space,” currently on show at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography.

Apart from the relationship between man and the environment, what else links these photographs?

This exhibition is the result of the most conscious part of my work which has been in the making for about a decade, when I started delving into this place that is Greece.

What I consider “place” is living space, one that you feel you belong to and which for me, is the place you feel the need to protect.

Just because you were born in Greece doesn’t mean that your “place” is necessarily Greece – I don’t see it like that. Some people like to travel and feel they belong everywhere. I have a bond with the country.

How do you choose your subjects?

There is no rule. Photography is a part of my life – it is a need and I do nothing more than record situations that interest me and which I want to keep, to record on film.

Your captions given no information about the location; there are only dates. Is that your own choice?

Yes. I don’t think the specific location is important. The date is simply a personal diary, although these photographs do not constitute a diary.

There are no close-ups, but mainly small figures in large landscapes. The scale often makes the landscapes seem larger than they actually are.

I’m interested in a general view of the place I decide to photograph, whether urban or natural, although the latter in the sense of pure nature is not easy to find – there is always some form of human intervention, whether a pylon or a cultivated field, and that’s why I rarely choose a purely natural landscape; but what often interests me are the details that we are not used to observing in our everyday lives.

So I am interested in the general, as long as there is something there – it is hard to explain what that something is that makes me lift up my camera – or not – but I also like to look for details.

Now with regard to people – since I started out photographing people in my first two projects, mainly documentary photography, that lasted four years and then stopped suddenly. After that I decided that people as personalities didn’t interest me; what interests me is what people create or destroy within their environment, since that is what remains. It is difficult for me to even notice such images now – I have ruled out that kind of photography.

I think the most important thing for me is the place in which we live, how we act upon it, usually in a negative way unfortunately, and what we are handing down to the next generation

Your photographs look as if they have been taken in the late afternoon, or after rain. Why don’t you make use of the bright Mediterranean light?

Generally I don’t like blue skies – in photographs, I mean. Of course that affects me more generally. The times I choose to work are usually on cloudy days or in the late afternoon.

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