Isolation and Discovery – Review of “DD/MM/YYYY” by Kostis Argyriadis

In the very back of Kostis Argyriadis’s new book, DD/MM/YYYY, he writes:

DD/MM/YYYY is a series of personal photographic explorations of place and presence. It explores time and what remains of it as it flows between us. In a way, it is an isolation in a small universe that I’m trying to create and within which I am trying to exist comfortably.

An isolation. A bit of separateness in a universe he’s trying to create. An effort to be comfortable in one’s own reality.

This is an engaging idea.

“DD/MM/YYYY” by Kostis Argyriadis
Self-published, 2022
review by W. Scott Olsen

Every photograph, every image at all, is an isolation. At one level, this is an obvious bit of de facto truth.  But what if we were to focus more on the metaphorical element of this idea?  Every image is an act, and then an artifact, of separation, of perhaps loneliness, of certainly character and soul and mind. Every image is separate from the rest of the universe. Forget context.  Forget milieu. Forget any type of connection at all.

Now imagine that the isolation is not meant to be reportage. The image is not intended as much to preserve some scene for study or understanding as it is to express some inner state. 

The book, he says, is about place and presence. How do I exist in this place? What does this place call for from my heart?

DD/MM/YYYY is an intriguing book that provokes lingering on every page.

If we were to borrow the language of literature, we might say this book is a type of personal, psychological or emotional poetry. Poetry is form given to emotion. But I think philosophy is closer to the mark here. DD/MM/YYYY is a book of phenomenological photography.

As a quick reminder, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first-person point of view.

I am aware we could argue all photography is engaged with phenomena. But rarely does that fact take such center stage. The images in this book do not ask us to understand them in any type of social framework, nor do they ask (at least not first) us to provide our own emotional context. In the form of a frozen moment, these images ask us to understand the artist’s state of thinking and his engaging with the phenomena of his world.

DD/MM/YYYY is a collection of black and white images. All of them are dark—either nighttime shots or lowered exposure. Many make use of double exposure. Nearly all utilize blur or soft focus. All of them are square, 1:1, meant to be read from their center outward. And while they may be isolations, every one of them is an isolation that implies a larger, more first-person abstract curiosity.

The title is not an invitation to fill in our own day and month and year.  Rather, the opposite.  It is declarative. There is no day, no month, no year. They are all the same, unspecified. Any one will do.

Yet, despite all this, DD/MM/YYYY is not a depressing book. For me at least, it’s very much a book about curiosity in a world of isolated moments, curiosity about how all this stuff we see came together. Curiosity about how the parts of what we perceive work with each other and how those relationships express something I have yet to understand or articulate about myself.

The external, visible world is certainly a provocateur. And I am serious when I say this book really is a phenomenological approach to articulating the self in time. But, as is true for all of us, phenomena/images as memories get layered on top of each other.  Is it possible to have a series of isolations? Can multiple separatenesses be understood together without diluting their separateness? Do we look at the double exposure, the layering of two isolations, as merged into one isolation?  Or are there, in fact, now three – the two individuals and the one merged? The joy here, of course, is that there is no single answer.  We get to tease out all the threads and all are equally valid.

Again on that back page, Argyriadis says,

What I discover (or find) in this series are human forms and traces of nature, bombarded by fragments of memory that I collect to create this new passage, which may be a new isolation or a way out. At the same time, I am attempting to remain consciously present, aware, always in the way that every new answer leads to a new question, starting a new circle while ending the previous one.

As I look back on this project’s moments of creation, I observe that there is always something more to unfold, a reminder of what is actually important without seeming important, a fleeting glimpse of the everyday, magical, yet trivial events that life provides.

DD/MM/YYYY asks to be read as memoir. It is not a narrative so easy to conceptualize as a road-trip or event. It is a memoir, perhaps without a narrative arc at all, of an interior state of mind and being presented with the sights of the external world.

As dark and moody as the images may be, they do give evidence to his idea that there is always something more to unfold. Everyday, trivial events can be magical.

Born in 1981 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Argyriadis attended ESP Photography College. His work has been exhibited in international exhibitions, solo and collective in France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Thailand, Hungary and Spain. Selected works are part of the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki, Greece.



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