Ogygia was the name by which Homer designated the little island of Gavdos, of the southern coast of Crete. These photographs by Alexandros Avramides transport us to that island, the southernmost point in Greece and so in some sort a terminus, land’s end. The camera laced south, and the images he shows us – silent, unclear, taken through the darkness – stand out like question marks, wondering what may lie beyond the curved horizon of the sea, beyond the end of the world.
The device he uses to create these images is a pinhole camera he designed himself, a black box with a minute aperture in the middle of one side, opposite a light-sensitive surface; its numerous construction defects contribute to the production of unexpected photochemical formations. The photographs are presented through darkness; they reveal not only the landscape beyond, but also the darkness within the camera at the moment when the photograph was taken. The result is that we, looking at these pictures, do not feel as though we were in the midst of that place, as one usually does when looking at a photograph; but instead we have the impression that what we see – the sea, the rocks – is somewhere out there, beyond us, in front of the camera. We see the world through the darkness within the camera, ambiguous, gray, enigmatic.
Since with a camera of this type sighting is impossible, the assembly and arrangement of the visual elements forming each image is necessarily fortuitous and beyond the control of the operator. The camera absorbs the visible reality creating unformulated images: Bright flashes of light appear at the edge of the pinhole, the horizon swings around, the dark silhouettes of the rocks occupy disproportionate areas of the frame, while the ever-restless sea spreads out like fog. Looking carefully at these pictures, one can even discern black dots, flecks of dust or faint fingerprints “dirtying” their surfaces. Scattered randomly across the photographs, these become part of the light-sensitive material which gives form to the images, appearing like chance events occurring at the time when the photograph was taken, fingerprints evidences of that point in time.
I believe that each subject a photographer selects demands a particular photographic mechanism, that is, a particular form of representation. Looking at these photographs, it occurs to me that no other type of camera would have been appropriate for Alexandros Avramides on his expedition to the edge of the world. (Costis Antoniadis)