February 28, 2010



The landscapes of Ektoras Dimissianos carefully skirt any hint of the picturesque, let alone of the lyrical - doubtful though it is whether many reserves of lyricism remain to be evoked by the hapless Greek landscape, riven by abuse and indifference. The great fires of 2007 and 2009 and their aftermath merely confirmed the consequences of that toxic mix of corruption, incompetence and feral greed which tend to distinguish Greek society’s engagement with the environment. In June 2007, a total of 14,000 acres of Mount Parnes were reduced to ashes in the space of a couple of days, including some two-thirds of an irreplaceable conifer forest, last significant woodlands of the greater Athens region.

The photographs taken by Dimissianos over the next few weeks and months depict a landscape transfigured; reminiscent of settings for a post-apocalyptic film, their uncanniness is emphasised by the acidic colours characteristic of cross-processing. The resulting chromatic aberrations echo the dislocation experienced by visitors to the site, as a mountain once familiarly cloaked in evergreens is suddenly painted a uniform ashen grey.

In the borderline between the burnt and the unburnt lurk the familiar marks of human encroachment: crumbling walls, drifts of rubbish, access roads and rubble. Surviving thanks to its function, the futuristic Hellenic Telecommunications Tower still stands majestically on the highest peak of the mountain. A few social activities take place on the fringes of the forest’s remains, including the bizarre open-air dance recorded by the photographer.

For the rest, Dimissianos’ photographs struggle to impart inchoate warnings, obscure portents of future disasters one can only guess at: targets pinned on trees, basements invaded by vegetation, the fractured remains of a warplane in a forest clearing. A deer looks out over the desolation, frozen in mid-step. Waiting for the next one.

Ektoras Dimissianos exhibited "Parnitha" at the MIET Gallery in Athens, October-November 2009, during the course of Athens Photo Festival '09.


"It is incredible how so many people can constantly misread speed to mean ease. This is certainly most common where photography is concerned. However simply because anyone can buy a camera, shutter away, and then with a slightly prejudiced eye justify the product does not validate the achievement. Shooting a target with a rifle is accomplished with similar speed and yet because the results are so objective no one suggests that marksmanship is easy."

Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves (Doubleday, NY 2000), p.419.