Panayiotis Lamprou: Work, Education, Evolution @ 3rd Athens Biennale MONODROME

This year’s 3rd Athens Biennale 2011 MONODROME is well synchronised with the major historical events taking place in today’s Greece and has somewhat created a controversy in the country’s arts world. The turmoil of the current political situation was colourfully depicted in the Biennale’s official teaser video (directed by George Zois), which was withdrawn soon after its release by the National Television Network (ERT). The Greek Biennale was also criticised for its ‘fashionable’ iconography although it is certainly debatable whether art must so tentatively follow the socio-political changes of its immediate environment. Undoubtedly this is -by all means- not a parthenogenetic phenomenon.

Amongst the participation of some 100 artists, photographer Panayiotis Lamprou presents a series of photographs inspired by one of the key components closely related to Greece’s very own national reality, the police force. He constructively explores the communication methods of his narrative and its consequent involvement with the viewer. Lamprou is not afraid of exposing or challenging his subject matter. He has profoundly proved this in the recent past with the “Portrait of My British Wife”, second prize winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
|Kostas Prapoglou

In addition to his statement on the Biennale’s official video, Panayiotis Lamprou talked to REVma -/+ about his participation:

REVma -/+: Your participation in the 3rd Athens Biennale 2011 MONODROME is addressed by a series of photographs titled “Work, Education, Evolution”, in which the Greek police force becomes your observational focal point. How did you decide to choose the particular subject especially during this hectic period of Greek sociopolitical history, whose recent past has been heavily stigmatized by the role of police force?
P.L.: It is the second time I choose to focus on the subject ‘work’. My first theme was ‘OAED’ (the Organisation of Employment and Social Security against Unemployment in Athens), where I wanted to search the sources of the meaning. With my second attempt I wanted to search a representation for the meaning. The opportunity I had also gave me the chance to view how the system works for its protection. As for this hectic period and the police force, I felt that what drives violence is fear and revenge.

REVma -/+: Do you believe that it can be possible at this given time to separate and distinguish the artistic value, ideology and perspective of your current Biennale exhibition from the actual subject matter?
P.L.: I don’t want to separate it but I want to connect it.

REVma -/+: Looking at your work over the past 2 years you come across as an emerging controversial artist-photographer who likes to stimulate his audience’s imagination with provocative human-centered iconography. Has this developed as a passion and/or is it a personal need?
P.L: With my work ‘untitled history’ I realised that Photography helps to come to the core of a subject without judgement, reality then reflects its character in clarity. I still keep on this step.

REVma -/+: This year’s Biennale has been criticized for its “easy” subject, its “fashionable” context. Do you agree with this statement and what would you choose if you were to decide its subject for the 2011 Biennale?
P.L: I feel that Monodrome is a very precise exhibition describing art. It reinvents the theoritical space in which we explain contemporary art. It is a point of view, which has sense and stands in this moment in the world history. It is clear to me that Greek culture remains influential and creates a new perception for the world. Therefore every piece of art at Athens Biennale is a word of conscience for the contemporary man.

REVma -/+: You currently live and work in Greece but your work is also exhibited abroad on a frequent basis. Do you believe that Greece can be a platform for a young photographer’s full career development or do the differences (if any) in culture, mentality and prospects dictate an alternative path?
P.L.: I can’t really say I choose a path, rather than my interest driving me. For the moment I am in Greece where crisis is a strong phenomenon and gives plenty of information about life.