The Cypriot photographer on the cyclical flow of creativity and balancing artistic and commercial work
by CH Contributor in Culture on 21 May 2013
by Emily Millett
Inside the stark walls of Penindaplinena Gallery in Cyprus, beautiful people flit from one exhibit to another, while outside on the damp pavement, others balance cigarettes and glasses of wine.
Standing confidently between the two worlds colliding in his honor is Cyprus-born Stelios Kallinikou. Having already found his feet in fashion photography, Kallinikou has now stepped across the line between commercial and fine art with his first ever solo exhibition. We catch up with him to find out how he is inspired by living in the present to immortalize the past.
You just opened your first solo exhibition. How do you feel?
I feel like I’ve just put a fullstop. And, like any fullstop of substance, it signifies a new beginning. It’s important to see your work presented in an open space like this because, whether you like it or not, it makes you reflect on what you’ve done—and what you would like to do next. With this exhibition I feel that a cycle has been completed, a cycle which documents the plethora of subjects that concern me and reveals hints of what is likely to concern me in the future.
Your exhibition is titled "Within Narratives." What is the idea behind this title and what is the running theme or concept that ties the images together?
My images are stories suspended in time. They form part of a greater narrative. When observing the photographs, on one level, you might think that they are trying to tell a story, but along the way you realize that they are keeping their secrets tightly sealed. The images flirt with the viewer, inviting you to create your own story. This becomes absolutely clear by the second image on display, where a piece of lined paper is placed on the face of a naked body. This image demonstrates the exhibition’s intention to observe and admire, instead of pointing in one clear direction.
The show brings together many heterogeneous elements such as animals, sceneries, faces and bodies. All images teeter between desire and death; an intense dualistic, interstitial space. For me, it has always been more interesting and substantial to analyze situations by relating various elements. Only through chaos can one search for harmony.
Do you have a favorite image or one with a particularly interesting story behind it?
I don’t single out any of my images. I feel they all have their own individual values, each one existing independently. Yet, at the same time, they collectively create my proposition to the audience and complete the puzzle of my first solo exhibition. I see them as images that stand alone, but can also be seen together in order to somehow unravel their myths. Generally I don’t like telling the story behind my photographs because I feel that it detracts from their mystery...My photographs create an aesthetic of a riddle and I would like them to remain that way. What is certain is that all my images are very personal. The hands and bodies in my photographs are all familiar to me and deeply cherished. The sceneries I photograph are sceneries which I would like to live in forever.
In your opinion, what are the boundaries that separate commercial photography and art?
Photography is one of the principal mediums that has always contested the limits of art. As Suzan Sontag said, "Time eventually positions most photographs—even the most amateur—at the level of art." There are many instances where photographs which have been created for clearly commercial purposes have then ended up in museums and private collections. In this day and age the boundaries are not that clear in any field.
What is your opinion on spontaneous versus set up photography?
I work in both ways. Some of my photographs were staged according to an idea that was already in my mind, others are simply scenes I came across. There is always a sense that they were staged and indeed this is one of the characteristics of my style. Many times I try to visually stage something that I have in my mind and it doesn’t work out, and then the very next day I might stumble upon it in reality. When an idea is meandering inside you I believe there are many ways for it to be realized. Often it is enough to observe the signs which show you the direction.
What is your background in photography? How did you get into the field?
I actually studied history and archaeology. My interest in photography was born while I was doing some research about the history of art. I came across a photograph of a pepper by Edward Weston and it made me realize that there was something about this medium that had a deep internal effect on me. As time passed, my passion for the subject continued to grow until in the end I decided to study photography as well. I’ve always found the relationship between photography and history fascinating. Both disciplines are involved in the salvaging of memory. They both try to keep alive and immortalize—at least in memory—things that now belong to death.
What are the main influences on your work?
Inspiration comes from everywhere—music, poetry, cats, traveling, my friends and everyday life in general. The more we live in our own present, the more we are inspired by the things that surround us. There are some artists that I love such as the photographers Rineke Dijkstra and Wolfgang Tillmans, Caspar David Friedrich—the 19th century landscape painter, visual artist Roni Horn, the band The Knife, the musician Thom Yorke, modern dance choreographer Wayne McGregor, filmmaker Michael Haneke, Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, the American film directors and producers behind the cult classic film "Kids" and last, but not least, fashion photographer Viviane Sassen.
How much do you separate your professional photography and your work as an artist?
As a photographer who is active in both areas, what constantly interests me is communicating through the frame. Of course when you have to undertake a commercial challenge things are different. You are no longer on your own, you have to consider your clients needs whereas when I’m working for a personal project I am absolutely free to experiment on any level. In both cases, I am interested in pursuing new visual languages and avenues.
What other projects are you currently involved in and what do you hope the future holds?
I am working on a few projects, in both fashion and advertising. I am traveling next week to London to photograph a story for Shoppinghour Magazine and am already working on the idea for my next show. With my involvement in photography, I feel like I’m on a train which I have absolute trust in and I’m simply looking out the window at all those wonders that surround us. The road and the destination are one and the same.
Translation by Andreas Stylianou, images courtesy of Stelios Kallinikou
Five highlights from Noho Design District's most captivating exhibit during NYC Design Week
by CH Editors in Design on 21 May 2013
Always a high point of our NYC Design Week, Noho Design District has fast become a destination for up and coming and established designers looking to introduce their latest work outside the conventional confines of ICFF. Among the many impressive exhibitions in the area we felt Noho Next—now in its fourth year—to be the strongest group showing of emerging designers. Presented by Jawbone, the underground space featured a good deal of creative, innovative and strangely sculptural work. While each studio had their own few square feet of space, a curated selection of work in the BIG Jambox installation area showed how the many different designers' work could blend seamlessly together. The following are five design studios that caught, and kept, our attention above all others.
Hailing from the Northwest, artist and designer Eric Trine makes intriguing furniture that is both minimal and involved. His wood, steel and leather seating caught our eye with a curious choice of colors and construction techniques. The two woven chairs seem firmly at home in any number of environments. Alongside these sat a few geometrically-inspired side-tables that really pulled the entire bold collection together.
One of the more distinctively designed collections came from Brooklyn-based design studio Souda. By employing reusable leather molds, the slip-cast porcelain objects are entirely unique. The leather's versatility has allowed Souda designers Isaac Friedman-Heiman, Shaun Kasperbauer and Luft Tanaka the freedom to experiment with tableware and lighting, resulting in a range of organic designs unlike anything we've seen. And, to prove their design prowess, the group also introduced the Mitre Stool; a geometric piece of minimal seating.
Ladies & Gentlemen
With a range of metal-based lighting fixtures throughout the Noho Next space, Seattle's Ladies & Gentlemen held an unavoidable presence in the dark space. We were immediately drawn to the small Maru Hand Mirror, nestled in the corner of the design studio—which they shared with Professional Associates—which mixed glass, copper, brass and hemlock. Across the room in the BIG Jambox installation area was an array of Aura Lamps. These gorgeous brass and copper glowing lamps emit a halo-like light that was captivating.
Architecturally-inclined designer Jason Rens is concerned with creating objects that toe the line between form and function. In an interview with Noho Next co-curator Monica Khemsurov, Rens explains he's interested in creating designs that move beyond simple utility, saying, "Having a beautiful object or something that inspires you or makes you see things a little differently is a completely valid function, and one I wish more people paid more attention to.” While his works undoubtedly trigger personal sensation, the items in his "Rason Jens" collection aren't without purpose. A prime example of this sentiment are the the giraffe-like bronze bookends, which are as playfully sculptural as they are capable of keeping books aligned.
Debuting at this year's NoHo Next, Professional Associates are Seattle-based product designer Erich Ginder and glassmaker John Hogan. The pair looks to their surroundings of the Pacific Northwest to inform their work, channeling their environment into an interpretation of the future using sustainable manufacturing techniques. Their initial collection includes a bevy of designs inspired by Tangerine Dream’s classic 1974 album, Phaedra, which sees the duo explore geometrical and more ethereal takes on lighting. The chandelier and pendant lamps, dubbed "South Side of The Sky", showcase Hogan's talent for shaping glass—each funnel-shaped glass pendant softly exudes light while creating a visually striking, harmonious gradient among its "stair-stepped" form. The graceful glassworks are underscored by patterned textile cords, and for the chandelier, a waxed oak centerpiece complete with a magnetic bottom closure.
Lead image by Justin Lee; studio images by Professional Associates; all other images by Graham Hiemstra and Karen Day
Italy's young photography-inspired fashion label keeps production at home
by Paolo Ferrarini in Style on 21 May 2013
The relationship between photography and fashion is very strong today, in particular when it comes to T-shirts. Sometimes the link is purely opportunistic and instrumental, but other times it’s an authentic and deep bond. This is the case with TOTHEM, a young Italian fashion brand born out of the passion and friendship between Andrea Buglione and artistic duo, Carolina Amoretti and Matteo Abbo. We recently met with Buglione (the founder) to discuss the label's origins, design process and future.
Tell us about yourself and the origins of TOTHEM.
I was born in Naples and moved to Milan in 1999. I studied Corporate Organization at Bocconi University and I’ve always had a passion for the fashion business. After my degree I was involved for a few years in public relations and event organization. I also worked as a PR in a design studio in Como. For that studio, I also took care of sales for a small clothing line, but my aspiration was to be on the market with something of my own.
I appreciated the photographic research of Carolina Amoretti and Matteo Abbo; two friends that, at the time, were working on the theme of totems. I saw an excellent opportunity in their work and so we started with a few T-shirts. We got carried away and we decided to make a capsule collection for men. In this first collection there were references to Giuseppe Arcimboldo, thanks to the presence and treatment of fruits and vegetables. At the same time these were sort of totems—but also Rorschach tests to some, because everyone was able to see different things: animals, faces and objects. Then came the women's collection, we went ahead and now we are planning our third real collection.
What about the name of the line?
The name plays on the question of "totem" and "to them" and is linked to the subjects that we shot for the first collections—totems, images, but also entities to be worshiped.
How is the creative relationship with Carolina Amoretti and Matteo Abbo?
The relationship was just a friendship at first, but has evolved into a professional collaboration. For me it is lucky to have them as friends, because I was able to explain exactly what I had in my head, my vision. I also had their support from an economic point of view, since they have had the patience to wait a year to start to see the fruits of labor. They were very quick in understanding what had to be done, where we had to improve and that we have developed an expertise that would be difficult to transfer to someone else.
What garments are included in the collection?
We have T-shirts, reversible bomber jackets, pants, dresses, baseball hats, a scarf in technical fabric, a backpack computer case. We are also working on sunglasses and other accessories, to complete the collections from season to season. The materials we use are cotton, neoprene, jersey, waterproof silk, lycra, nylon, viscose. Everything is made in Italy: prints are realized in Como and production takes place between Padua and Venice.
What is more important: the print or the shape of the garments?
Both things are equally important. Through the printed photographs we have the ability to communicate to everybody in a direct manner. On the other hand, the attention to volumes and shapes is a subject that affects—perhaps a niche—those people who are very passionate about fashion. With the FW 13/14 collection, due out in stores next September, we have worked to harmonize more and more shapes and photographs.
From a technical point of view, what are the characteristics of these prints?
We use digital inkjet printers that roughly resemble the ones used for printing on paper, but with fabric, the regular problems multiply. Fabric doesn't give a firm base and the risk is not having the prints straight—creating problems in the process of cutting and sewing. We only have “placed prints” and this choice makes things difficult, especially because our prints are mirrored, so we must always ensure it's perfectly centered. If you mess up, you have to throw away everything.
Will you keep using photographic prints as the main feature of TOTHEM?
Today the prints are very strong in the market, so we are not abandoning them any time soon. But we are starting to experiment with unprinted fabric. If our experiment succeeds, we'll begin to insert something different in the collections—although the prints will always remain the heart of the project.
TOTHEM clothing is sold online at Luisa Via Roma. Images courtesy of TOTHEM.