Greece as Photograph: Histories, Photographies, Theories

Moschovi, Alexandra Greece as Photograph: Histories, Photographies, Theories. In: Camera Graeca: Photographs, Narratives, Materialities (provisional). Ashgate, King's College London (under review), London. (Submitted)

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Abstract

In 1941, Alison Frantz and Lucy Talcott, archaeologists and members of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, published a book for “the benefit of civilian aid” in occupied Greece. Contributed by the members of the School and their friends, the photographs of ancient stones and Byzantine monuments, of bucolic scenery and peasant life, of sun-blasted islands, indigenous architecture and customs that featured in the modestly produced but not so modestly entitled publication This is Greece were selected and edited together with ancient verses to evidence that “in Greece past and present [were] separated by no wide gulf”. Haunting the history of Modern Greece and feeding Europe’s Philhellene sentiments since the early 19th century, this belief in the “continuity of tradition” and the inseparability of “the two Greeces—the ancient and the modern” seemed to uniformly underline the travel books and illustrated tourist guides that were published under homonymous or suchlike titles in the late 1940s and 1950s, and which rebranded Greece as a must-see destination for the educated European traveler.
This paper argues that similar idea(l)s, thematic and/or morphological, not only informed the ways that Greek photographers, amateurs and professionals, visualized Greece and the “imagined community” of the Greek nation in the post-war years, but would also constitute the point of ideological, conceptual and aesthetic departure from the imag(in)ing of Greece “à ciel ouvert” in the work of succeeding generations. Three distinct moments in the history of Greek Photography, the 1950s, the 1980s and the 2000s, are cross-examined endeavouring to show how photography from a “nation-building tool” that afforded post-war generations with iconic images of Greekness in an era of political turbulence, would, in subsequent decades, challenge the preconceptions of collective consciousness about national identity and associated motivations, historical narrative and factuality, and as such, at its most elemental, the ontological premises of realism itself.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Drawing on research conducted during a Research Fellowship at Princeton University, this paper was first commissioned as a keynote speech in the first international conference on Greek History and Photography at King’s College London (2011).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Documentary photography, ethnography, photographic realism, history of Greek Photography, Greek history and politics, cultural geographies, nationalism, national identity
Subjects: Photography > Documentary Photography
Culture > History and Politics
Photography > Photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts Design and Media > Department of Arts and Design
Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi
Date Deposited: 09 May 2013 14:11
Last Modified: 09 May 2013 14:11
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/3747

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