When I first laid eyes on Istanbul’s working Greek schools in July 2006, words failed me. Built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century by a then flourishing Greek Orthodox diaspora, with moving dignity they defend the community’s bourgeois cosmopolitanism against the starkness of reality.
Over the year that followed, I would return again and again to their austere magnificence only to find myself swept up each time in a maelstrom of ambivalence: the alienation of the empty spaces and the largesse of their architecture, the atmosphere of stateliness and the absence that does not detract from it, the objects’ perishability and their persistent claims to utility value, decimated numbers and continuity in the education conveyed, a sense of loss and the reassuring certainty that home is where meaning has not leaked away.
Documents of national history or data from the era of the real, lost homelands or education missed: in every case, this mute record is an audible echo of memory, a glimpse of the lines on our palms.
Paris Petridis, The Rum-Orthodox Schools of Istanbul, Agra Publications, Athens, 2007
b. 1960, Thessaloniki, Greece
Lives and works in Thessaloniki. After studying Economics at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and at the New York University, he completed his PhD in Photography at the University of Sunderland. His work deals with memory. Traversing a variety of photographic genres (still life, landscape, architecture, portrait) and operational modes (snapshots or tripod-based views), he composes images which relate the marks left by existence, by movement and by conflict, to a present that is anything but complete. Recent group exhibitions include: Places of Memory, Fields of Vision, Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki (2013) • Oriented and Disoriented in the Middle East (Part A), Museum of Photography, Thessaloniki (2012) • Time Within Us, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul (2010) • Photographie Hellenique, Theatre de la Photographie et de l’ Image, Nice (2008). Among solo shows: The Void and the Country, AD gallery, Athens (2011) • Education Lost, Hotel Mezzara, Month of Photography, Paris (2009). A number of books have been published on his work: Here: Sites of Violence in Thessaloniki, Agra Publications, Athens (2012); The Rum-Orthodox Schools of Istanbul, Agra Publications, Athens (2007); Notes at the Edge of the Road, Agra Publications, Athens (2006); Wedding Album, Istos publications, Athens (2002); Kath’ Odon, Istos publications, Athens (1998).