Beyond the mountains
The following photographic project was produced during the Vovousa Festival Residency Program in 2017.
Vovousa and Perivoli are two vlach villages situated in the Zagori region at the heart of the North Pindus mountain chain in the north of Greece. Vovousa is known for its forests and timber exploitations and Perivoli is the home to local shepherds and mountain pastures. Both worlds come together on one peak—an island outside of time that is isolated and far away from the rest of the world.
During a one-month residency in Vovousa I immersed myself in this location in order to depict the region and its population. I decided to make all photographs by using a pin-hole camera. I made this unusual choice of equipment because I wanted to obtain an aesthetic that could refer to the work of the Manakian brothers who were pioneers of early 20th century Balkan photography and film-making. They too had focused their lens on the region. Using such a process requires making long exposure times that can sometimes last between two minutes and eight hours for a single shot. This limitation allowed me to distance myself from the instantaneous and realistic qualities of the photographic medium.
Due to the retro aesthetic yet contemporary subject matter in the photographs the viewer is left with a dubious feeling about the authenticity of the images. Furthermore, photographing a moment as opposed to an instant brings about
textures and shapes which emphasise the materiality of the photographic image and its anachronistic nature. The ghostly atmosphere that resulted resembled the chiaroscuro style and suggested a world that appears as both unreal and outside of time—Or maybe even disappearing…
In a second phase, and in order to make the project more immersive, I narrated my own experiences and encounters with the inhabitants of the village. The text in the book presents itself like a travel journal that confronts us with the inhabitants of these mountains. This narrative complements the photography and offers a second vision from the same source and on the same subject. The result is an interaction takes place between the text and the images as the one describes the other while the other is the result of the latter.
Translated by Marwan Bassiouni