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MANOLIS SKOUFIAS (HELLAS)
LA PROVINCE

MYLOS GALLERY




Provinces: the parts of a country which lie far from the capital

One phrase popular among architects describes buildings as "containers of life". Perhaps that expression may serve as a starting-point for an understanding of the way in which Manolis Skoufias has attempted to show us some fragments of the Greek provinces.
In these works, images of houses and of the histories of those who live in them are juxtaposed in a reconstruction of scenes with which the photographer is familiar and in an attempt to re-investigate photographic conventions.
The farm-houses standing in isolation on the plains of Imathia are not treated as pretexts for atmospheric compositions but as shells that house people. Nor are the pictures merely illustrations to the texts: the texts and the images co-exist with the austerity of archive material, producing a background tension which manifests itself in the visual aspects of the composition.
A white mark on a house, a blur which undermines the photograph's descriptive inclination and its self-satisfaction: these are the points at which the text and the image become intertwined, the sparks struck by the collision of the present and the entrapped past.
Simultaneously, the inexplicable light accentuates the power of these solitary buildings to capture the gaze - a hypnotic power which stems from their solitude.
Yet their attraction acts first and foremost on the imagination.
Their rudimentary architecture, completely lacking in morphological rhetoric, usually places them in the shadow of the established iconography of the picturesque, the traditional or the interesting. Yet they possess a quality of value: in their isolation and their privileged relationship with the earth and the elements of nature, their capacity to protect is multiplied. They become refuges, condensing the entire psychological concept of the 'house'. This gives them the inner life of spiritual entities. These houses keep watch over the landscape, standing guard like the distant sentries of army camps. The lonely trajectories of their imaginary inhabitants reflect this situation and ring in harmony with the farm-houses, creating a counterpoint of enigmatic existences and events, a collection of mementoes of the provinces.

Kostas Manolidis