Interview: Platon Rivellis speaks to in[+]frame
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Interview: Platon Rivellis speaks to in[+]frame

October 8, 2019


Although you are well known for your photographic,
teaching and writing work and activity… …we would still like you to tell us
a few words on how you to define yourself… …and what is your development
and your relation to photography. I started to get closely interested in photography
in the mid-70s. Later on, I gave up my job at that time,
working as a lawyer… …and got involved exclusively with photography
in several ways. Firstly, I considered setting up
a photograph store, which I did… …but after a while I shut it down
because it was not what I really wanted. Instead I was mainly preoccupied
with the teaching of photography. So, if someone asks me
about for one professional capacity… …I respond, ’I am a photography teacher’. Naturally, I am also a photographer,
as, especially in photography… …you cannot be a teacher
unless you photograph. But I am mainly a photographer because
I enjoy it, I am fond of it and I love it. And as a result of my teaching
I got much involved with writing… …and I wrote books in order to help my students
keep in touch with what I teach. Along the way, 27 years ago,
I set up a photographic society in Athens… …which is called ‘’Photography Circle’. So that all friends,
students and everyone else… …who loves this kind of photography
in which I am involved… …can be together and
share expenses and thoughts. This is more or less my photographic course. Do you believe that
we can approach photography as art… …under the traditional meaning
of the term art? Does it differ from other forms of art? It is certainly something different,
as every art is different. While, all arts have the same
deep and ultimate aim. There is no traditional meaning in art,
every form of art has its own tradition. Photography has its own short history,
for it was born at the beginning of the industrial age. But nevertheless, it inevitably conveys
all the other forms of art… …since the nascence of the world. Therefore, it is a form
that one may relate it closer to painting… …another, like myself, closer to poetry… …but anyway it is a form that ‘borrows’ from arts,
while giving itself to others. For me, it should be considered as
an independent form of art… …with its own laws and disciplines. Of course, let us not forget that
photography has many implementations… …which also exist in other forms of art. But in photography they are outnumbered
and more familiar to the populace. For example, the house painter uses colors,
as the TV industry uses cameras and lenses… …as there are songs just for entertainment… However, in all of them exists a form
that is artistic. So, photography also includes these applied aspects,
and it also has an artistic side. Does the evaluation of a photograph
complies with concrete and universal criteria… …that may also apply
on other forms of arts? Universal criteria exist in all arts
either of general or specific nature… …with respect to the person
who makes the judgment. In other words, each one of us
carries within himself unwavering criteria… …as well as many other
that are completely personal. Therefore, in the case of photography,
one will implement them accordingly. Only that, photography has additionally
its own criteria… …and people involved in different arts
would not know them. For example, although
I move inside the world of art… …I do not comprehend deeply
most of the other forms… …the way I comprehend photography
or cinema. So, I choose not to express opinion
about other arts… …that I may enjoy,
but I do not understand them deeply. It’s reasonable then, for one to stop and say,
’it seems interesting, but I do not know it’ Unfortunately, in photography
this happens rarely. Most people think it’s something so easy
and simple to do, which is not true… …and everyone speaks his mind. While I believe that they would not make
so easily judgments… …about classical music, dance,
painting or other arts. In other words,
deep knowledge is needed… …in order to have a serious and
worthy of importance, opinion. Therefore, who is entitled,
who has the authority or the responsibility… …to judge a work of art? Everyone has the right and the power,
according to his level of knowledge. Well, no one is going to say:
‘’I know nothing, zero’’ But the more he progresses,
the more he realizes that he sees deeper… …in what stands in front of him. Consequently, everyone,
in all forms of art… …creates a scale, as one might say,
of critical capacity. I think that whoever listens to us
and has been involved in photography… …knows very well now,
that he ‘sees’ a photograph much better… …than when he first started and
bought a camera. Hence, it is knowledge and time
that account for our critical capacity. Who is expressed through artistic photography? Is it the artist, the viewer, a society,
a cultural group, an historical period? The first one you said.
The artist expresses himself, the artist creates. From there, a good viewer,
an active and open-minded observer… …he will communicate with the photograph,
he will feel emotions… …and will finally become a, so to speak,
‘creative viewer’. Societies do not express themselves through art,
people do. And of course people as individuals
constitute a society. But as individuals,
not as an impersonal whole. From your point of view,
what can a photograph likely be? A window, a mirror,
an alternative reality, a new reality? Using the very interesting phrase you said,
a photograph is a window and a mirror. Sometimes the one, sometimes the other,
and ideally both of them. A photograph is always a new reality. If it’s not, then personally
it leaves me detached. That is, if a photograph
merely captures the existing… then it’s just a connection to it,
a photocopy of reality, but not a creation. Hence, if a photographic reality does not exist,
then it’s just a bridge. It takes me there, it reminds me of the other,
the genuine reality… …and I I’m not interested in it. You have spoken in the past about
the dimension of time in photography. How important is time, how is it interpreted,
how is it transformed? Can you tell us a few words about
this peculiarity of photography? The meaning of space and time,
and especially time… …is something that is of interest
in all arts. But in photography
it is also its raw material. What one does with a photograph is to select,
personally and arbitrary… …a piece of space and time. A photograph expands time infinitely. That is exactly what awe primitive people
when looking themselves in a photograph. While it is not happening the same
when looking at a painting. It is because photography does what people
simply say ’it stops time’. This piece of time does not really stop,
but the movement captured in a photograph… …keeps expanding and becomes eternal. I would say that philosophically,
this is a rather ‘wild’ photographic reality. And this is very interesting,
and we use it. In other words,
in photography we have space, time… …the reality of the subject being photographed… …and the intervention of the photographer. Which transforms
those three elements… …into a personal reality
that would not exist without him What would you advise those that make
their first steps into artistic photography? Is there an approach that might help them? Firstly, I advise them
not to get carried away by trends. Because trends, due to Internet,
are very powerful and they impose themselves. And the downside is that they eliminate
any chance of expressing who you really are. You just get better or worse
in following a trend. Secondly, to love photography
and to trust it. Thirdly, to educate themselves. That is, to train their mind,
spirit and thinking. Because if you don’t, then,
you have nothing to ‘put’ into photography. From there on, not to think
in terms of narrow goals. For example, ‘I have to do this today,
that tomorrow’ and so on. They should put photography, just like poetry,
in their lives, and move forward together. Thank you very much.

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