Thessaloniki February - March 1999
THE BRITISH COUNCIL
ISTITUTO ITALIANO DI CULTURA
MACEDONIAN MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
MITROPOLEOS 23, THESSALONIKI, GREECE
TEL +3031.280743 FAX +3031.286847
Ten full years have gone by since February of 1988 when, diffidently, as if by fortuitous conjuncture, a group of five photography exhibitions were organised synchronously. The rest, as they say, is history, and Photosynkyria is now celebrated for its success and its scope.
The three most recent events, in 1995, 1996 and 1998, which were substantially subsidised by the Ministry of Culture, have led to the establishment of the Thessaloniki Photo Festival as an international event of enviable standing.
There have, however, been a number of developments in Greek photography lately. This is why the 11th Photosynkyria -now for the first time advertised solely by the English name under which it has become internationally known- has reverted, in anticipation perhaps of a more definitive shaping of the landscape, to a type of organisation reminiscent of its origins. The vast difference between then and now, of course, is the experience with the subject, which is now both broad and on a multitude of levels. Photography is no longer terra incognita in Thessaloniki; the public knows what art photography is and what professional photography is and what are the relations between photography and the plastic arts and to what degree photography is truly one of the principal means of expression and communication.
The basic co-organisers of the Photosynkyria exhibitions are the foreign cultural missions in this city, together with the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and Camera Obscura, which retains the role of co-ordinator. The abridgement of its programme is evident in the smaller number of exhibitions compared to recent years, by joint decision of Camera Obscura and the foreign institutions. At the same time, a number of independent exhibitions have been organised to be held in parallel with the event, on the initiative of individual artists and public and private bodies. Thessaloniki has reached a point of maturity where photographers and galleries and cultural institutions can all find expression in notable projects.
The horizon is already changing. Institutions like the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Culture, the Photography Centre of Skopelos and the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, which has now acquired the substance to fulfil its mandate, together form a fabric supportive of a serious and responsible approach to art photography in this country. Photosynkyria will logically develop on a new basis, aspiring to remain an annual international rendez-vous in Greece. Dare we cherish the thought that this transitional "10+1" will be the first of a whole new decade?
for Camera Obscura