'Ways of Seeing - Episode 1' is, for the photographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, also established as a world renowned director of photography, a step closer to a redefinition of the genre.
He manages to synthesize the subject of photography, the shooting aesthetic, the resulting object and the staging in the gallery space.
The coherence is poetic and expands the field of interpretation for each of the works. No visual of the show is broadcasted on the Internet or in the press before and during the exhibition. To announce the show, there is a flyer without image and Nicolas's portrait taken by a friend, the famous photographer Willy vanderperre. With this absence of visual, Nicolas intends to preserve the feeling of discovery and singular relationship with the work. In the gallery, Nicolas builds a path in space for about twenty photographs, all unique, like paintings, never reproduced. Among these, four are cast in resin blocks.
portrait by Willy Vanderperre
Paul Valery (1871-1945):
“Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.”
Walter Benjamin (1892 -1940):
'Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be’
John Berger (1926 - ):
"For the first time ever, images of art have become ephemeral, ubiquitous, insubstantial, available, valueless, free.”
In conversation with Nicolas Karakatsanis
"I’m completely open to the idea that we stumble across lucky accidents but I don’t believe photography is based solely on accidents.
I have always been approaching my work more as a painter than a photographer as I am fascinated by the uniqueness of things. Be it a painting, or a wooden chair, or a concrete sculpture… I love the fact that things are identifiable as a once in a lifetime gathering of elements that put together have this chemistry that let us feel things in a very specific way. So specific, that it will/can be perceived by everybody in a different way. That artist 'a person who is a master in his production form' made this device to touch the viewer in a very emotional way... Or not. That object has to be the Alfa. Something that has the potential of being everything, but also the danger to mean nothing. It can only be brought to life by the interaction between the viewer and the object. That interaction can only happen when time and space are present. Those 4 elements are key to a truthful experience of connection.
I believe the experience is only possible when you know that the object was only made once. Because of your feeling of a private experience towards that work, and the knowledge of the effort made to see the object in ‘real life’, it will enhance that emotional connection to it’s full potential. The fact that you know no one else can see it at the same time as you (unless that person is next to you), makes you feel privileged. And you can give yourself completely, and be open to accept whatever the work has to offer. A unique made piece is a catalyst, and a direct connection to the artist who made that object. It creates a deeper bond between the viewer and the maker.
In that sense I believe that the mass re-production of images are annihilating the sense of connection to the maker. Photography is, at base, the ultimate re-production medium.
In that sense I struggle with its core idea. Not being able to do different, I am a photographer, I try to come as close as possible to that Alpha feel, or as Walter Benjamin wrote, the Aura of the object.
Photography, being a re-producible item, weakens inherently the Aura, because of its lack of space and time, and the lost connection of its original nature.
‘Ways of Seeing- Episode 1' - The title of this exhibition is clearly an homage to the writer John Berger and his writings on the new culture, and its further developments of visual deportations.
The new body of works presented in this show started as a very personal project about relationships between human beings… A very broad idea that was kickstarted by a visit at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. I was mesmerized by the painting ‘Two figures’ (1963) by Philip Pearlstein. It reminded me of the London Painters like Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach… My intention was then to translate that connection I had watching Pearlsteins' painting into my own world. It is a very personal approach of how I stand in my own relationship to family, sexuality and social extends,… I try to combine multiple layers into the works. Its content, its form, its weight as well as the idea of being unique
What struck me during the process was that I was completely forgetting the actual fact of taking the photo.
I see them as works, as objects with a strong 2-dimensional feeling. To photograph these images was merely a first step.
The relationships to the works only come afterwards when I start tthinking of its presentation. The light sculpts the photography and I am the sculptor.. The model becomes a mere material which I carve with light..
Taking the picture is just one of the steps to produce that materialized connection towards whoever wants to see it.
In the idea of going against a mass reproduction feel, I choose to only produce a limited amount of works. I consider all of them to be steps in an evolving body work.
The future holds more experiments with materials and ways of creating devices that can create that ultimate Alpha experience I am always searching for."