Aristotle Roufanis and the Loneliness that Connects

31/08/2017

One of the most magical hours of the day in any big city is the moment at dawn when all the street lights go out and for a few minutes all you can see is scattered lights in a sea of dark apartment buildings. This unique moment is recreated in the photographic series ‘Alone Together’ by Greek-born, London-based photographer Aristotle Roufanis, who’s been travelling the world to create these deeply emotional and striking images. Fascinated by the urban environment and the way we behave within it, the photographer has often turned his lens to urban and architectural landscapes before; but with ‘Alone Together’, a new chapter is written in his body of work, which marks both technical achievement and worldwide acclaim.

Text by Kiriakos Spirou
All images courtesy Aristotle Roufanis. Copyright the artist and Arte Globale.

To understand Aristotle’s intention in this series, one must imagine the darkness surrounding these tiny illuminated dots as a sea of solitude, which engulfs us as we go about with our lives in the city. “The bigger the city, the lonelier we feel” is one of Aristotle’s mottos that has often been quoted by magazines and blogs, and which suits the series quite well. Originally inspired by his own experience as an expat living in London, ‘Alone Together’ is a visual meditation on urban loneliness, and how one can often feel lost and alone in the crowd. And I don’t use the word “meditation” lightly: these images are in fact super-high-resolution composites, and when presented in exhibitions are printed in very large sizes, thus allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in every detail. These are not images to be glanced upon, but in a way to be visited, allowing the eye to travel over the city, and study like an invisible observer the lives of mortals below.

From Miami to London and from Paris to Hong Kong, the series ‘Alone Together’ is an ongoing project that will be complemented with additional images over time. Naturally, Athens couldn’t be missing from the assortment. The images accompanying this article were taken in the Greek capital from two of its many hills—can you guess which areas they depict? We are used to seeing Athens as a vast grey sea of concrete, but in Aristotle Roufanis’s images the city is caught with its eyelids half-open; whether it’s about to go to sleep or just opened its eyes still half-dreaming is up to the viewer to decide. What surely strikes us nevertheless is the meticulous detail and amount of work spent on each image, as well as the sensibility by which the photographer is eavesdropping on the city’s denizens, as if trying to hear their stories in the silence of the night. Maybe it's through this listening in solitude that we might be able to come closer to each other after all.

Aristotle Roufanis is presenting the series Alone Together for the first time in Mexico City, at ZsONAMACO FOTO art fair (20-24 September 2017). You can see the complete series and additional images from his portfolio on his website.