AD Gallery, Athens GR: Yiorgos Kordakis – 10.000 American Movies

AD Gallery opens the sixth solo show of the photographer Yiorgos Kordakis entitled 10.000 American Movies on Friday, February 21 at 20:00.

Kordakis has started working on these photographic series in 2009, when he decided to explore whether his wandering in the USA, in new, unknown to him territories, would possibly refresh his mind and help him redefine himself. In February 2013 he has been awarded for these series the 1st Place-Outstanding Achievement at the 6th Photography Masters Cup Awards in New York. 

The American landscape is recognizable all over the Western world: As the enigmatic backdrop of thousands of Hollywood movies, it has traveled the globe, reaching the hearts of millions. It has helped tell all kinds of stories, forever canonizing the American dream and aesthetic.  It was a great surprise for Kordakis to find many of these vistas still vibrant and untouched, alongside the tired clichés. 

The majority of post-war generations in Europe was obsessed with Americana – the music, the cars, the “promises” of the American Dream. It “worshiped” the American movies populated with heroes like Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen, as everything was unbelievably different, exotic and foreign to a young person growing up in a Mediterranean country. 

Yiorgos Kordakis writes in the artist statement which accompanied his participation in the 6th Photography Masters Cup Awards: “On arrival, I just began to drive. I took photographs with no fixed goal, no concrete vision of a project.  The retro vehicles, signs, buildings — it all made my heart beat faster. It was so surprising to see actual evidence of these movie images embedded in my brain from films I watched as a young boy. I wanted to capture this landscape as I saw it from my mind's eye. I soon realized that I was investigating the place that these childhood impressions occupied in my memory. Over the next four years, I returned periodically for months at a time. At the end of my trip, I realized that I was trying to create new memories over old ones. Small towns in Kansas, ghost towns in North Dakota, downtown Las Vegas — I kept thinking of movie directors who passed by these places, got inspired, and said, "Let's shoot the scene right here!" ” 

He has spent four years feeling strangely at home in a foreign land, searching to find a way to document in the present these childhood mental images of the past through a long “traveling”. Staying away from any journalistic fact or engagement, he pursued to capture  landscapes that have inherent cinematic qualities. A backdrop that tells a story by itself.  His photographs – “movies” have something to tell about the strong feeling that there are so many things that we love and yearn, which cannot be defined by a name yet – like a hopeless hunger for something we have never tasted or an endless desire for a place we have never been before. As Andre Breton says, “During my whole life my heart yearned something I couldn’t name”. This kind of desire has led Robert Smithson in the creation of HOTEL PALENQUE Yucatan is Elsewhere and beat generation (Jean-Louis 

"Jack" Kérouac, Irwin Allen Ginsberg, William Seward Burroughs) in the search of On the Road. Kordakis’ vista of the American landscape has a lot in common with the equivalent vista of the German director Wim Wenders in his movie Paris, Texas. In an interview of his, Wenders says that “the USA was for me a utopic place compared to my country”. The exit from a “narrow” and “heavy” in terms of history place and the search for a new beginning is probably the central story of life. The photographer, as the German director, is not looking for landscapes in which stories of social success and fancy prestige are registered, but rather for stories of enigmatic outsiders. 

In the same statement Kordakis mentions: “When I began, I felt like an actor in a never-ending movie set, but as I worked, I realized that I was more of a director, seeking a reality that is found only in the mirror of film. I like to stay as far away as possible from my image, with nothing — not even the camera itself, or people in the frame — to distract from the moment of preservation.” Thus, he creates a “simple”, bare narration with no unnecessary elements, which is based in the characteristics of an “empty” landscape. 

Lately, Yiorgos Kordakis’ photographs evolve further. The photographer simplifies the color in its final process, making it look like monochromatic and it reinforces the relationship between image and memory, reminding us Edward Hopper’s paintings.   

Exhibition duration: February 21 – April 5, 2014

Visiting hours: Tuesday-Friday 12:00-21:00 and Saturday 12:00-16:00

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