26/2 - 18/3 1998
NIKIFOROY FOKA 29 / 224-060
MO - FRI 10.00 - 14.00, 18.00 - 20.30
SA 10.00 - 15.30

Verbs of looking

The camera obscura is reminiscent of Plato's cave, with a myriad images encapsulated in it, awaiting the light which will render them incarnate.
A camera obscura would, I fancy, be a place for alchemists to live in, a place, I mean, where periods of time can be converted into moments, or, the reverse, where instants can be expanded into the incommensurate. Plato's legacy of ideas about the real, as well as the processes of chemical transformation which constitute life, and memory too, does not want to relinquish its store of images: all are linked with time, and give observation a potential charm.
Takis Zerdevas's photographs propose a new vision, another dimension of the gaze. His is not the passive gaze of the spectator. It does not passively observe and depict, but takes us with it into the picture, infiltrating us in among its visual planes. The gaze from behind the camera comes through to the other side, laying claim to its own position in space. Essentially it delineates this space through changes of focus, like a person travelling through the spatial levels and progressively overcoming them.
In former times, the Byzantine iconographers, in their wisdom, used the devices of "reversed" or "mixed" perspective in order to give a feeling of collectivity to the subject being enacted in the icon and so that the faithful would feel that the representation concerns him immediately, that he was there or could be present as a witness to the holy scenes which had happened once, and could always happen again through the divine mystery of the liturgy. This was the very opposite of the perspective system of the Renaissance with its dominant anthropocentrism, since it proposed a gaze of "fusion" with the image, for which the spectator had to be present, sharing the responsibility for the vision he was witnessing. The omnipresent, almighty God could be at the same time both God and man, as was apparent to anyone who could see and at the same time pass over into the space of metaphysical union, which was, is and ever shall be, world without end.
This is not what occurs in the photographic work of Takis Zerdevas, but this artist does set out from not entirely dissimilar points of departure. Zerdevas grounds the verbal energy of the gaze in the shadow of a traveller who has already walked on past us. This walking man is the shadow of our gaze thrown forwards in amongst the planes of the image. His passing through separates their levels, while the path traced by his steps brings them together again. Surface and depth are very close relationship, accurate and clear, without getting rid entirely of the perspective, of verisimilitude, but throwing open to question the exact value which the certainty, the exactitude of perspective, offers us.
Nice meanings in a nice equilibrium above a tightly stretched skein of tonal values from lightest white to darkest shade: painterly feelings, plastic values, shapes which register as volumes, while at the same time clearly remain drawings of what is visible, in a desolate, deserted landscape... such are the "landscapes", the tone poems, the reflections of views we are presented with in these works.
The gradations from deepest black to the lightest tones in Takis Zerdevas's photographic "environments", on paper or on transparencies (usually in series of three) entail the displacement of the "objective" characteristics of photography, as the position the viewer changes. Slight movements of the head adjust the angle the image is viewed at, without creating distortion. A total silence descends into these abodes of utopian reality, with a clarity, an almost metaphysical perspicuity as the gaze zooms out from the microscopic to the telescopic, hastening untiringly to absorb the total power of the feeling in a gaze of elegiac vision, that of the ascetic hermit or of the indomitable long-distance traveller....

Athina Shina