Something that captures her attention while walking down the street, a song, a face she encounters, a slice of the sky, the stroking a bird’s feathers, a smell: the most trivial and petty, the random and the unexpected might as well become a source of inspiration for the photographer and filmmaker Alexandra Riba, as they craft their proper magical universe within the realm of her artistic creation.
She is a graduate of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s School of Film and has studied modern photography at Stereosis School of Photography. She has showcased her work in prestigious art venues both in Greece and abroad (Benaki Museum, Loosen art in Rome).
As a debutant photographer she rose to prominence through the MATAROA Awards, an institution held thanks to the support of the Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece, within the framework of the MATAROA project (following an open call to the artistic community). She is currently hosting her individual exhibition Between Cities and Skies as part of the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023.
The up-and-coming artist’s first spark for photography was ignited through her grandmother, also a photographer. “She had a soft spot for traditional film, especially black and white film. She used to spend countless hours in her home-made dark room. I can recall childhood memories and smells from that room, which eventually led me to Stereosis. In addition, my studies at AUTh’s School of Film triggered my interest in images, either moving or static.”
In her personal projects, such as Between Cities and Skies, she enjoys kicking off from a core idea and developing thoughts around it. In this case, the starting off point was no other than a note, as she explains. “The project’s roots go back to one summer afternoon, a few years ago, when my mother described to me an image she had just witnessed. “In the balcony across the street, she took notice of a pigeon speeding up and landing with all its force on a closet again and again, trying to set free another pigeon trapped inside. We sought to find a way to help the pigeon so we decided to stick a note on the building’s entrance. It actually worked as the pigeon was set free a little later and flew away along with his/her companion.
I removed the note and kept it”.
Alexandra Riba has worked as a still photographer in film sets (The City and the City directed by Christos Passalis and Syllas Tzoumerkas) and in theater shows such as Perseids or how to party hard directed by Marina Siotou and Zoe Sigalou, staged by Onassis Stegi in 2023 and The Wahncau File directed by Syllas Tzoumerkas, staged at the 2022 Epidaurus Festival. As a filmmaker she has worked alongside Syllas Tzoumerkas in the short film My Mother Is a Saint within the framework of the 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture and Nikos Kolioukos in the short film The Chaos She Left Behind.
From her standpoint, photography and filmmaking converse with each other inside of her. “They are kind of backing up one another. Observing myself as a filmmaker, I realize that I try to make use of the knowledge I gained as a student in Stereosis, whether it has to do with the frame or the choice on what to include and leave out in each scene. At the same time, as a photographer I seek for a cinema-oriented ambiance and lighting. As for what sets these two apart, photography can become a rather lonely profession at times, whereas film shootings and film sets are crowded places. I take delight in both of them.”
What did it mean for her to be selected in the MATAROA Awards and take part in this year’s PhotoBiennale? “When I heard the news, I was truly elated. Right from the very start we teamed up beautifully with Mr. Iraklis Papaioannou and the people of the PhotoBiennale and MATAROA. Working side by side with my two curators, Kosmas Pavlidis and Giannis Manolis, we came up with a display of images exactly as I had pictured it in my head and I would like to thank them for that from the bottom of my heart. Most importantly, through the PhotoBiennale I had the opportunity to share and I will keep on sharing my photos and my thoughts until the conclusion of the exhibition in mid-January.”
Alexandra is in talks for publishing a photo book inspired by the exhibition Between Cities and Skies, while taking part in the prep work of various film projects scheduled to start shooting within the following months.
Between Cities and Skies | Alexandra Riba
Venue/Collaboration: Stereosis School of Photography (SSP)
Duration: up until 15.01.2024
Curation: Kosmas Pavlidis, Giannis Manolis
Support: Fujifilm Inkjet Photo-paper