Guest Contribution by Katerina Biliouri
If there is an artist who adds a new dimension to the combination of photography, free-standing sculptures and the creation of a new reality through images, this artist is Petros Chrisostomou. With his "still life" photography series he manages to create a dialogue between fact and fiction. Objects are extracted from their everyday role and placed in a new environment, while acquiring a new context and meaning. Some of his works become a parody of themselves and make you laugh, others make you wonder, make you think.
Yatzer intrigued by his work, presents to you the artist that lies behind the journey between the real and the imaginary.
When did your adventure with this form of “still life” photography begin and how was the idea born?
I was always interested in large free standing sculpture and whilst I was at St Martins from 2000 to 2003 I began to experiment with installation sculpture using ephemeral materials. The works would usually deteriorate or be left in the space that they were made for and the only way I had for holding on to their existence was by documentation or as memory. When I thought of the people who I admired like Caro or Richard Serra I realised that my experience of this work was more through reproduction and multiplicity rather than the physical materiality (which negates what they tried to state I suppose) and this concept became rather pertinent to me.
In your work you “reconstruct” a new reality for each object. Could you tell us a few words about the various methods you use in order to arrive at a finished product?
I suppose it is difficult for me to articulate but I have a fantasy for certain spaces, some are autobiographical and others are aspirational. The spaces that I construct are mainly spaces in which I have lived or used in my life are usually recreated through memory. It is by some form of obsessive and ritualistic motion that I meticulously reconstruct these spaces and in doing so -feel as though I understand or validate them for myself. It is exactly the same way that I feel for the interiors that I aspire to make a part of my life. The second layer of process is the selection of materials that I choose to photograph in the space, and this usually takes on an instinctive role.
Thirdly it is the technicality of studio photography, and then there is the enlargement of the photograph to a size which is inviting enough to the viewer to perhaps suggest an alter real space.
Which are your main sources of inspiration?
My main sources of inspiration are those around me and the people who believe in me, keep me waking up every day and make me want to work.
There is a unique relationship born between the object and the viewer, or as post-structuralists call it “between the signifier and the signified”. Has post-structuralism influenced your work and to what extent?
Undoubtedly my work has been influenced by the post structuralists; I always state that my work is heavily informed by the work of Jean Baudrillard and also theorists such as Roland Barthes and Walther Benjamin etc.
I suppose that the way in which my work is being received by the audience (even more so in this era) is very linear and also multiplied. The fact that my work can be blogged and re-blogged and that a moment or even a perceived idea of a particular moment- albeit the same transfixed identical image- is a phenomenal experience for me. In fatal theories of Simulacra by Baudrillard he states that the pilots in the Gulf war did not have direct contact with their target - more like a computerised screen to view from and that the infantry were following the progress of the war via CNN news channel and in doing so argues a case for the war to have been a fiction. In some ways I see my work creating a cultural history for itself through its own self perpetuation, the momentum it gathers is uncontrollable to me, therefore I somehow view this as an abstracted reality that has a removed relationship with me.
What is the main peoples' reaction to this ongoing object/context dialogue which is created?
I suppose it is hard for me to know what the main reaction is across the board, I have no idea how many people see my work, I think that the instantly recognisable signifier or the punctum as Roland Barthes would say is the perversion of scale. I understand that scale is a phenomenological device and so I use this to attract or seduce my viewer.
Are there any artists who have influenced your work? Who would be your favorite and why?
I like many artists, I feel I am expected to name a few that have a similar aesthetic or outlook to my practice - say, Oldenberg, or Thomas Demand but in actual fact I love many things. Egon Schiele, Carravagio, Robert Gober, Neo Rauch, Jessica Stockholder, Steven Pippin and André Cadere are some of the artists that influence me even in the sense of building a visual awareness.
Which one of you projects could be named as “your favorite” until now?
My Favourite works are the series from 18 Fortis Green with the pens and the pennies; these were a real break through for me.
Tell us a few things about your future projects.
Regarding future projects, I have a few shows in the pipe line and I am hoping to travel a bit more. I am also looking forward to returning to free standing sculpture at some point so that I can further establish my dialogue between the real and the hyper real; between the idea of a sculpture as a photograph and a sculpture in its physical sense that mirrors the ones in the image.