The 13th Photosynkyria is the second to be organised by the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography under the new system of rotating curators. Last year, the photographic gaze was investigated by Costis Antoniadis; this year, John Stathatos takes us on an exploration of the fantastic in photography, while his Vindication of Tlon celebrates that great writer, Jorge Luis Borges, who, though bereft of sight for much of his life, perceived so much through the eyes of imagination.
In his short story Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Borges invents not one but two intertwined worlds: Uqbar, a mysterious country lying between Khorasan and Armenia, and Tlon, the imaginary world whose description is the sole concern of Uqbar's writers. In turn, the metaphysicians of Tlon "do not seek for the truth or even verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding. They judge that metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature". Not merely the metaphysics, but the zoology and topography of Tlon are fantastic; briefly and in passing, as though appalled or embarrassed, Borges mentions "its transparent tigers and towers of blood".
In a postscript dated 1947, he recounts his discovery of a centuries-old conspiracy devoted to the creation of an all-embracing Encyclopaedia of Tlon - perhaps "the vastest undertaking ever carried out by man". As more volumes of the encyclopaedia are brought to light, the author realises that study of the virtual world of Tlon, a facsimile twice removed from reality, is proving more attractive to humanity than that of the real world.
From its earliest days, and in reaction to its supposedly representational nature, photography has shown a perverse predilection for the fantastic, a tendency greatly reinforced by recent developments in digital imagery. The subject of photography and the fantastic is explored in depth by Photosynkyria 2001, which includes A Vindication of Tlon, a major international exhibition in the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art; a number of satellite one-person shows; and a one-day conference with presentations and lectures by artists, critics and art historians.
A Vindication of Tlon presents new and specially commissioned work by Joan Fontcuberta (Spain), Wojciech Prazmowski (Poland), Erasmus Schroeter (Germany), Susan Trangmar (UK), Victor Koen (USA), Eleni Maligoura (Greece), Holly King (Canada), Eric Emo (France), Philip George (Australia), Lynn Silverman (USA), Haris Zevlaris (Cyprus), Nikos Panayotopoulos (Greece), Olga Kaloussi (Greece/Germany) and others.

Associated satellite exhibitions on the subject of photography and the fantastic include A Cabinet of Photographic Curiosities by Buratonni & Abrioux (France), Joan Fontcuberta's recent Semiopolis series, Riwan Tromeur's (France) extensive installation Des Grands Nords, Lizzie Calligas's Swimmers, Marialba Russo's recently completed Incantesimo series (Italy), and a selection of Erasmus Schroeter's hallucinatory Bunkers.

As usual, a number of solo exhibitions lying outside the principal theme will show new work by Hector Dimissianos, Jean-Jacques Dicker, Nikos Koukis, Christos Apostolakis and others. In this context, we are particularly pleased and honoured to present the first ever exhibition of photographic work by the well-known British art historian and critic, Ian Jeffrey.

Photosynkyria's audience is aware of the fact that the event, while remaining faithful to its roots, is constantly on the lookout for exciting new departures. This year we have widened our horizons to include work in another medium, and the opening of A Vindication of Tlon on February 24th will be accompanied by the world premiere performance of a new musical composition commissioned from Panayotis Leftheris. To mark this development, Harry Lefakis has organised EchoSynkyria, a concert of music for small ensembles by young Greek composers which will take place in the courtyard of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, while this year's seminar by Ferdy Carabott takes "Sound & Image" for its subject.

Photography is only one of many activities within the field of art and culture, and perhaps one of the least insular; film, video, literature and the other visual arts often interface with photography. Surprisingly perhaps, music, like photography, a fertile field of research and experimentation, suggests further connections, while offering new opportunities for a constructive breaching of hitherto isolated categories.

Finally, readers will note that the Photosynkyria catalogue has undergone a further development, and now consists of two independent publications: a general catalogue, and a monograph on the subject of photography and the fantastic.

Aris Georgiou
Artistic Director,
Thessaloniki Museum of Photography