"Ilias Georgiadis: Over|State"Over|State is the first photographic work from the young Greek photographer who presents a series which strangely and almost immediately mesmerizes you.
The dark shots where white slams violently into deep black put ghostly characters on the scene.
At the very heart of the photographs, these anonymous silhouettes float in a disturbing world with fuzzy outlines, as if they came from abstract reality. A strange impression of solitude emerges. Is this solitude the labyrinth of a mundane life in which everyone wanders? For Ilias Georgiadis uses photography to reach the depths of the human being where the obscure desires arise and overcome the trials of addiction and aloneness. --Laure Etienne / Polka Magazine
PHOTOGRAPHY SHAPED BY THE MATERIAL by Jean DEILHES, Université de Toulouse II Jean Jaurès
Comme la glace rejette l’image sans effort, et l’écho la voix, sans nous
demander pourquoi, la beauté de la matière n’appartient à personne car
elle est désormais un produit physico-chimique.
Like the mirror which effortlessly reflects an image, as an echo does a voice,
without asking why the material’s beauty belongs to no one because it is, after all, a physicochemical reaction.
Tristan Tzara, Les Feuilles libres, 1922, in Œuvres complètes, Flammarion, 1975, p. 417.It is surprising to realize how little influence texts about photography - and even photographer’s words themselves - have had on the medium’s graphic dimension, as though there is something superficial to want to take into account an image’s surface! Yet the idea of material has interested photographers and in more than one way. It is at the heart of Ilias Georgiadis’ work, of which this is the first exhibition in France, and of Over/ State, a body of work which is strong, dark, opaque and as free as it is beautiful.
Ilias Georgiadis’s photographic references are diverse: they can be memories of an experience, sometimes intimate, of his nightlife but also images are taken from newspapers or from albums. These very personal, fragments of reality are transformed by the very expressive photographic act in which the materiality is first; thus grain, blur, the lab’s accidental marks or the negative’s edge, come to the surface of the representation, highlighting their presence. Ilias Georgiadis’ extremely graphic work doesn’t try to erase the marks of the process, quite the opposite, the spectator is aware that they are in front an opaque material; an image which cannot be confused with the reality to which it refers. The prints of certain contact sheets say nothing more. Neither does the series title Over/State, one is above or beyond, or better yet a far cry from. It remains to be seen.
Sujets / Objets : Over / State
While highlighting that the image is distinct from the real and giving preeminence to the image over the naturalist perspective, as it were, the author explicitly reveals his expressiveness. It is in fact about creating a disenchanted vision of our world, in which darkroom accidents and material degradation are part of the process. The negatives are scratched and on them, one can see watermarks, bristles, and touches of dust, once enlarged and printed, they form white streamers. Impurities, marks, scratches, dust, scuff marks, very thick grain, all of which traditionally have obsessed photographic orthodoxy, which here alter our vision of the scene twisting it into a nightmare. The photographic gesture is a forced one when the negative is marked where a face should be: this disfiguration, deliberately assumed, incorporates implicit autobiographical writing.
Thick black and burnt white, coarse rugged grey, extreme close up’s of human subjects, dark nights: all fighting to annihilate any links to identifiable space. The pale light thrown on the faces, the devouring shadows which disfigure the contours and the alterations to the negative’s surface which appears to be worn from abuse, together manages in outlining a geography of the states of the soul where the constriction of nocturnal fear fights the apparition of shapes as free as they are beautiful. So the blinding paleness of these faces and bodies, on the surface of the images, is never quite that of a ghost: here the very flat black, without depth, draws graphically the forms of crude, raw gangue.
Letting time play its part
Ilias Georgiadis, born 1990 in Greece, is a young photographer who belongs to the Digital Native generation. In addition, his deliberate choice to use film emulsions is anything but insignificant: there is here a particular gesture which allows him to practice the photographic act, from framing to enlarging, according to a time-based principle. There, where digital insures and accomplishes, fully and totally the simultaneity between the capturing of an image and its apparition on the camera’s screen, the film forces the photographer to submit to the eventuality of time. Uncertainty, oversights and the intuition of the moment, as the image exists in a latent state on a roll of film, are part of the game; they bring their share of surprises; the moment the images are finally revealed, first as negatives then as positive. But between these states, that of the revelation of the negative and that of the positive print, Ilias Georgiadis introduces a new time interval during which the films are subjected to the hazards of domestic life. Like object lying around, getting thrown about and coated in dust, the films record their own index, the real, which comes from abrasions, friction and which progressively imprints these indelible marks of time as kind of textual writing.
The contact sheet is also a timeline, without any narrative perspective, such that the material itself is distinguishable in the marks which submit each image to the federating principle: photography as an object but also a subject in itself.
By forcing a return to the etymological source of the word photography, writing with light, Georgiadis re-exerts photography, the medium of the moment since the invention of gelatin-bromide silver solution (1871), in another time phase. Thus revealing beyond the developing and fixer baths, the principle of writing experience, to know something which takes time. The experimental dimension, as can be seen in the choice to let fate play her part, in the diverse alterations of the surface showing the extent to which this photography is free. Free of the photographic vision, Weston’s famous seeing photographically, which is nothing more than the heir of Straight Photography’s orthodoxy, free to let the real sleep and the dreams come out, in that which is uncertain, but so stubborn, that as soon as we awake, our eyes open to the world.
"Over|State" by Adam Grossman Cohen
Ilias sometimes carries a small but powerful pocket flashlight with him when he is making his photographs. I use the word ‘making’ deliberately because even as he works spontaneously, seizing the unexpected, unplanned moment as it happens, he is both instantly reacting to and consciously [ to the point of self-consciousness? ] making/shaping the subject in front of him.
The blinding light from his torch (I know because I’ve been in front of it) is a light that cuts into the dark the way a sculptor cuts into stone. In the process [one which he then continues afterward, taking it to its very limit in the printing], he reveals shape and detail; but its as much about his own private struggle as anything else’s.
“(Over|State)Is a question about fighting one’s demons, about not feeling safe, because when we cross the margins of safety we understand that the distance we keep with people around us is a living organism that corresponds with our fears and anxieties……. …. the fight of getting over solitude, psychological pain, self-destruction, trying to be close to people. Sometimes seeking romanticism and love, sometimes truly experiencing them all…….a question of social identity, of being on the fringe,... making pictures to defend...”(1)
I don’t believe you should look at this work as a series of ‘pictures’ or ‘photographs' in the normal sense of the word. See it as a body of work; in movement. The evidence of a struggle with, and in life. Living, Moving on.
Adam Grossman Cohen
(1): Words by Ilias Georgiadis
Adam is a New York City-born filmmaker and photographer based in Berlin.