Ilias Georgiadis and the Potency of Blackness


For his second solo show, young Greek photographer Ilias Georgiadis takes over the bare space at Void to set up an installation that includes a photographic slideshow, writings, black-and-white prints, and a 32-page limited-edition zine. Before engaging with photography, Ilias was exclusively a writer, and his writings still inform his visual work by way of hand-written notes from his notebooks. For the exhibition “Over|State”, Ilias fills the space in an obsessive gesture of covering every surface with images, with the intention to recreate his working studio and the kind of atmosphere he is surrounded by when he works. Evocative, suggestive and experimental, Ilias’s photos narrate an anonymous story of delirious blackness, which tenderly conceals a captivating depth of emotion behind its apparent bleakness. This is the transcript of an interview that took place over the phone one warm Wednesday night.

Interview by Kiriakos Spirou
Photos by Ilias Georgiadis, courtesy the artist

Is the Οver|State series something you’ve been working on for a long time?

The work shown at Void is part of a wider ongoing project which I have been developing in phases, and whose main part has been in progress for the past six years.

What’s the subject of this body of work?

For me this work is purely autobiographical. I experience photography as a way to approach things I’m afraid of, to see things about myself, and as a way to look at things in my life. So this work is the result of confronting difficulties in my life and overcoming them. It’s also related to another thing that is important to me, which is to come closer to other people.

What form does this exhibition take?

This exhibition is very important for me, because it’s the first time I attempt to do something that goes beyond a typical exhibition format. And the space helps a lot in this case. So I decided to do a kind of installation that combines a photo slideshow with Xerox prints, whereby the prints have a secondary function and support the main slideshow. In Over|State there are two parts: one is the photos, and the other is the written notes, which create a certain atmosphere in relation to the other part. Together with the team at Void we tried to include as many objects as possible, not only notes but also old prints I have made, or other prints that have been present in my workflow over the years and now are part of the installation. There are also other elements in the installation, like an audiovisual projection with archival material that hasn’t been published or shown before, and is in dialogue with the rest of the work on display. The main idea behind this exhibition was basically to transport my workspace into Void.

Are these notes things that you write yourself?

These notes have a particular significance for me. Since a very young age I had a very special communication with writing, and my contact with art began exclusively through writing: I used to write short stories, poems, novels... After a while I realised that writing was something I could do but didn’t find fulfilling. So I left it aside but without destroying my work or quitting it altogether. And that practice transformed into something that was truly my own, it’s something I do without thinking too much, without being a self-standing thing for me. Now I still write, but as scattered words, very freely, mostly as a kind of healing. So all of this practice, together with other things I would do from time to time, created a body of notes, poems etc. Later on, there was a time when I was working a lot trying to understand how my photographic work could have a sense of narrative—for things to have a connection between them, so that one could move from one image to the other. It was within that state of mind that I began reading what I used to write earlier, and realised that there were things that had a connection with my current work, and that they helped me get across what I want to say better.

What kind of techniques do you use to edit and process your images?

I only work in analogue. My method is the classic analogue technique.

So then what are these deformations on your prints?

Those are things on the film mostly, including dust and scratches that accumulate over time... It’s basically a process of destroying the original material.

And where does this come from as an intention, as a process for you?

I’m not sure if I can answer that. It’s something that comes out during the making process, something that comes out spontaneously while I work. It’s a difficult question, because it’s like trying to explain why you like something or why you choose something over something else. I can only say that it’s part of a intuitive process.

Are these images from places you travel to, or are they from your everyday life?

I don’t see myself as a traveller, I’m not the type of person who would go on a trip to photograph. Many things I’ve taken photos of are close to where I live, and most people in my images are friends, or strangers who later became friends.

So what has photography taught you that writing hasn’t?

My connection to other people.

Do you mean the act of photographing?

Yes, that’s exactly. What I found annoying in writing is that in order to write you have to be alone in a room and write, on a keyboard, a piece of paper... Whatever. I found that monastic process very annoying. Photography is the complete opposite, it’s a mechanism that brings you closer to the other. It gets you out of your room, out of your house.

So tell me a bit about the zine you’ve published as part of your exhibition.

This zine is a very nice experiment the people at Void designed, and is trying to communicate what we did with the installation in the space. It gives it a character, an experimental design. And what comes out as a result is very beautiful and doesn’t have a beginning, middle or end, you can leaf through it without a particular order, or even to take a page out and put it up on your wall. There’s also a limited edition of that that is in part silk screen-printed. I loved that as well because I never got involved with silk-screen printing before in my work and it’s very unique.

The exhibition Over|State with photography by Ilias Georgiadis is on display at Void (Nikis 30, Athens 105 57) from 01-15 June 2017, Tuesday to Saturday 19:00-22:00. The exhibition is part of the official programme of Athens Photo Festival 2017. 

Void is listed in the und.irectory at no.39 and is part of our suggested Route no.7.