If our world is nothing but a vast ocean, then Yannis Zindrilis feels like rowing midsea, with no fixed route, scouting and reflecting, while taking his time to observe and record landscapes, people and their deeds and works.
Born in Ioannina in 1982, he took on photography by chance, “without having any high expectations” as he admits. He is a graduate of both the Department of Topography and the Department of Photography and Audiovisual Arts of the University of West Attica. Moreover, he is currently a senior student at the master’s degree programme “Photography: Research and Methodology” at the same university. “When I concluded my studies as a topographer, in more favorable conditions for a middle-class family such as mine than today, I asked my father for a photo camera as a graduation gift. I soon developed the need to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of photography and after sitting entrance exams, I enrolled at the Department of Photography.”
He has attended the seminars “Theory Issues of Visual Arts and Photography” and “On Landscape: Images, Emotions, Politics” at the Athens School of Fine Arts, while in 2016 he took part in the Athens Photo Festival with the series Vague Landscapes, within the framework of the exhibition Young Greek Photographers. He has collaborated with a number of newspapers and magazines and over the last few years he has been teaching photography courses at the Hellenic Cancer Society.
He is currently showcasing his first solo exhibition titled A Long Saturday as part of the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023, as a debutant photographer who rose to prominence through the Mataroa Photo Awards, an institution held with the support of the Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece, within the framework of the MATAROA project and following an open call to the artistic community.
Through his work in the photo series A Long Saturday he converses with people found in crossroads, in barren landscapes, in an overall inhospitable milieu, while the spectator’s gaze is drawn by road signs signaling prohibited actions and conveying the absence of orientation and harmony with the surroundings. This project was wrapped up just a while ago and Yannis Zindrilis still feels caught up in its realm. “It’s the first work that I can wholeheartedly put my name on. I had long felt an elusive need to complete a photo work that would derive from a contemplation on the times we are living in. Therefore, I created a series of staged portraits placed in outdoor locations, intertwined through the titular cognitive schema formulated by the French-American literary critic, essayist, philosopher and writer George Steiner, which describes people in manifest discomfiture, trapped inside a shapeless and incomprehensible work, pretty much just like myself. A Long Saturday is my master’s thesis at the West Attica University, supervised by Ms. Natassa Markidou.”
It was a highly demanding project, as it was the first time the element of staging and directing permeated so deeply in his work as a photographer. “Taking my distance from the stereotypical talk, I truly hope to remain in my comfort zone or at least put on less effort in my next project,” he admits in disarming honesty. In addition, he does not fail to express his joy and satisfaction over the distinction received at the MATAROA Awards and his participation at the PhotoBiennale 2023. “In all candidness, awards, prizes and taking part in prestigious events are a source of immense joy, as they inject courage for carrying on the effort amidst the uncertainty of personal creation. It is so soothing when moments of encouragement come up, which have the power to make you believe, even for a blink of time, that all your dreams may one day come true.”
As for the abundance and availability of all sorts of digital tools that sweep away the world of photography, he remains skeptical. “At times I find myself excited and other times I am filled with uncertainties and new moral questions. Albert Camus, in one of his most well-aimed famous phrases, once said that all artists embark on the galley of their times. Reflecting on the above, I would say that I often row against the flow trying to keep up with things.”
Ultimately, what does photography mean to him? “I feel I can provide an entirely different answer every time the question pops up. My own definition may relate to the feeling or the need I experience whenever standing before a landscape or a human being that I’m yearning to photograph. From my standpoint, it serves as a passageway to another world. Sometimes it’s a shortcut to what I perceive as a personal dream.”
A Long Saturday | Yannis Zindrilis
Venue/Collaboration: esp+ gallery / ΙΕΚ ESP
Duration: up until 15.01.2024
Support: Fujifilm Inkjet Photo-paper