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America in a Trance — Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance – by Niko J. Kallianiotis

Combining punches of color, intense natural light and ironic visuals, this photographer commentates on the gloom of dying industries in the wake of political promise.

Niko J. Kallianiotis’ first monograph, America in a Trance, dives into the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s industrial regions, a place where small town values still exist, and where sustainable local businesses once thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry. In his explorations, he offers a quiet assessment of the cultural and economic state of the nation, as seen through a number of cities and towns in Pennsylvania. The approach to this book shares some stylistic similarities with some of the great documentary works that precede it, like Joel Sternfeld’s witty insight, Robert Frank’s ‘outsider’ observations of America, the use of color and light in the street photography of Saul Leiter, and Walker Evans’ landscapes and portraits of the same region. While the work of Kallianiotis is an homage to these influences, it is also a departure from them.

There is far more to Kallianiotis’ images than an expected patina of fading industry, waning prosperity, and portraits of the people who call this place home. He uses evocative color and an artful use of light to convey the dynamics of the scenes he encounters. Flat light from an overcast afternoon helps bring out the texture of American flag-like awnings, which partially obscure the alleyway side of an apartment building’s back porch.

Braddock I © Niko J. Kallianiotis

He captures signage and language on buildings and advertisements with visually ironic placement — both physically, and in respect to this point in history. Political references are not avoided. In the case of political campaigning by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Kallianiotis visually pits them against each other in a two-page spread. But the end result of the book is not overtly slanted to one side or the other. Optimism for a better future and pessimistic views of the current landscape balance the scales.

Trump v Clinton, spread from “America in a Trance” © Niko J. Kallianiotis

Kallianiotis is Greek by birth, but is also an American citizen, and has lived in the country for 20 years, so his commentary on the current political climate is influenced by strikingly different factors than the average Pennsylvanian. In a 2017 interview with PBS, Elizabeth Flock asked Kallianiotis about the meaning behind the title for his project. He replied, “The meaning is the way the country is right now. I’m sensing that after the election, people walking in these towns are disoriented and alienated…including me. I’m in every picture, too, in terms of the loneliness and trying to assimilate. I’m trying to blend with the culture, since I have two countries. I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m Greek, and I love both. This hybrid situation is complicated. The trance is: you’re aware, you’re listening, but you can’t really respond. I think that’s where we are right now.”

Braddock II © Niko J. Kallianiotis

That place in the middle is bitter-sweet. His decades spent in America have taught Kallianiotis how beliefs from both sides of the fence in the current political climate have a direct effect on these towns. And yet, he achieves a certain level of neutrality within the work. Whether it is the hard Pennsylvania coal towns to the East, the shadows of looming steel stacks to the West, or every faded American Dream in between, Kallianiotis explores an illumination of hope through his own relationship with the land. Within America in a Trance, there is the silhouette of what once was: streets and storefronts thriving, and the reflections of that time coming back to us through his mindful eye.

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Coal Lights © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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El Camino © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Capitol © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Helfers © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Home Turf © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Falcon Pride © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Jessup RR © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Leaned © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Green © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lost Love © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Melodrama © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Red © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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No Worries © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Rain Drop © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Disconnected © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Supply © Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance by Niko J Kallianiotis
Publisher: Damiani
ISBN: 9788862085953

To find out more about America in a Trance or to see more work by Niko J. Kallianiotis, please visit his website: www.nikokallianiotis.com.

This book is available for purchase at www.nikokallianiotis.com/book or at the publisher’s website: https://www.damianieditore.com/en-US/product/669


This is an edited version of the article originally published at http://www.lensculture.com 
Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis
Book Review by Cary Benbow

Directly from Nature — Fine Art Botanicals by Diane Kaye

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Kaye’s website, http://www.fineartbotanicals.net/, features only camera-less work. Each photograph is a contact print. A light or moving light beam is directed on the object, which is then recorded on black & white photo paper, or to a digital file via a scan head.

 

“These subjects, most of them from my garden, are so complete in themselves that the use of software processing is restricted to the digital equivalent of darkroom printing techniques. All other distortions or effects are achieved naturally in a single exposure. I honor all stages of the plant cycle from seed or bulb to beautiful crispy dried old age and I freely exercise my right to surgically operate on my subjects, in the service of a new fierce type of aesthetic. I feel passionate about smeared colors as subjects move, over time.”

 

“Working with plant specimens calls forth feelings of respect and wonder in me. And if I ‘lean on them’ in just the right way, they begin lending themselves to varieties of emotional expression beyond the traditional beauty-aesthetics we might otherwise associate with them. This isn’t your old grandmother’s bouquet. Far more is possible, as these graceful forms yield their secrets.”

 

 

 

“The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him”. Auguste Rodin

 

 

To view more work by Diane Kaye, please visit her website here, or visit Fine Art Botanicals here.

 

 


 

 

 

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Also published on Medium

 

 

Based on a False Story by Al Brydon

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What was old is new again – A conversation with the past

A drawer with rolls of exposed film sat quietly for years. Every once in awhile, Al Brydon would nose about in that drawer, then shut it and forget about them again. But one day he didn’t shut the drawer. “I couldn’t tell you why”, Brydon recalls. “When it’s time it’s time, I guess. The rolls of film suddenly became a way of having a conversation with my past self. I just needed fifteen or so years to realise it. Who wouldn’t want to get into a time machine?”

Brydon took on the chance of obliterating the images taken years before. The fruitful happenstance results of re-exposing those rolls of film were well worth the risk.  While the number of chances for good double exposures was very high, taken amongst roughly between 500 and 600 frames, Brydon states, “The hit rate for usable images was low. There’s only so much serendipity one person can muster it seems.”

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The images in Based on a False Story are a wonderful mix of beautiful double-exposed portraits of old friends and new, juxtaposed landscapes, and tactile images of balanced geometric shapes and forms that construct dreamlike scenes with silhouetted human forms in the distance, or trees forming a horizon line within the portrait of a young man. The images draw in the viewer and evoke a sense of recalling past places and people affected by the passage of time. ‘False Story’ is Brydon’s second book published through Another Place Press this year, and rounds out a full year of marvelous publications from this small-but-mighty publisher.

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Brydon has worked with double exposed film in other projects, including a project with California based photographer J.M Golding. Brydon and Golding swapped rolls of film each other had shot in their respective haunts, and the resulting project, “Tales from a non-existent land”, have a strong influence for this new project. Both projects may be born from a specific type of photographic technique, but both also transcend and speak of something more than the photographic process itself. Brydon has taken it even further by addressing the landscape of the physical and metaphysical worlds.

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Brydon has described his process of working on his landscape work through the analogy of listening; “The dead sing songs, and I am trying to learn how to hear them.” With consideration to all the occurrences man has taken to alter the physical landscape surrounding him, Brydon listens and tries to interpret the history of the land, both past and present. In this way, ‘False Story’ is also a process of connecting one’s past and present. This applies to the personal as well as the physical. Brydon says, “Some of the last photographs I had of one of my best friends were hidden in the rolls somewhere and I was worried about losing them. As it turned out, one of these particular photographs became the most successful in terms of delivering exactly what I was trying to convey. But I had no idea what was on the films really. It was more about a feeling than any compositional considerations. I tried to imagine the younger Al and I walking together while I was making the photographs. What would we have talked about? Would we have even liked each other? We are two extremely different people after all. I just walked and went to places that felt right. There were no rules and no deadlines. I was in the enviable position of freedom within the confines of a two dimensional medium and a limited number of rolls of film.”

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When I asked if ‘False Story’ feels like departure from the majority of the landscape work he has been creating, Brydon said, “Maybe a slight departure… I’d like to say everything I do is well thought out and totally intentional, but this is a falsehood. I make the work, then work out why as I go along. In this instance the process did inform the end result. I was aware there would be some photographs on there I would have liked to see without the addition of another frame over the top. There’s a sadness to the work, but it’s necessary, and as it should be. But the world happens to be immensely beautiful, and I hope I’ve at least conveyed some of that beauty in the photographs.”

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From all the various types of films stored in that drawer, Brydon had to impose some order for the purpose of the project. “Because I was working with different films and due to the chaotic nature of the work I wanted a uniform aesthetic. They were scanned and converted to mono with slight adjustments here and there. I also added the scratches but this was done by literally kicking the negatives around in my cellar. The act of re-exposing the negs was a destructive one and I wanted to continue that destructive process after I’d got the processed films back from the lab. I knew once the films had been processed and the work finished that effectively it would be the end of the conversation. I’m not sure about the long term effects of the work yet. I’m interested to see how I feel about the photographs in a year or so.  I did however keep one film back. This will be re-exposed in another fifteen years so I can have one more stern chat with myself.  I will be 55 years old.”

This psychological evaluation of one’s current self against one’s past self reveals what we know to be true – we are not who we once were. By examining our past self, we change not only who we were, but who we are now. Through the process of creating ‘False Story’, Brydon’s conversation with his past self and destruction of his original images has actually revealed glimpses of his present self. We can only assume that his current work will foretell the work to be created in 15 more years – when he will re-discover who he is, and was, anew.

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Based on a False Story by Al Brydon
© 2016 – published by Another Place Press
http://anotherplacepress.bigcartel.com/
52 pp / 210 x 150mm
Perfect Bound
Fedrigoni & GF Smith papers:
350gsm Colorplan cover, 170gsm Uncoated text
ISBN 978-0-9935688-8-6


Al Brydon is a photographer based in the North of the UK. He is less tall than he seems on the internet. To see more work and projects, visit his website: http://www.al-brydon.com/

Another Place Press is a small independent publisher interested in contemporary photography that explores landscape in the widest sense, covering themes which include land, place, journey, city and environment – from the remotest corners of the globe to the centre of the largest cities. Iain Sarjeant is the founder and editor of Another Place, and Another Place Press.

The Perils of “Creative Documentary Photography” by Allen Murabayashi

The World Press Photo recently announced the creation of a new contest whereby the documentary photos in it would not be limited by their manner of creation. Murabayashi raises an important question about what criteria documentary photographers should be obligated to when telling a story through photography. 

Here is the link to his post, decide for yourself: http://blog.photoshelter.com/2016/10/the-perils-of-creative-documentary-photography/

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. 

Workshopx – Documentary Photography Workshop

This September, on the majestic south-eastern edge of Europe, the workshopx editors will team-up with award winning photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz for an intensive, in-depth documentary photography workshop. 

This workshop is designed for photographers who would like to deepen their understanding of the documentary photography process. During the five-day course participants will be covering a local subject assigned by Justyna, revealing it from an insider’s perspective. We will put special attention on working with people and approaching their personal stories. But there will be much more to talk about and learn.

© Justyna Mielnikiewicz

Justyna is a professional photographer with over 15 years of experience ranging from news photography and classic reportage, to long term, in depth personal projects, to designing and publishing own books. Being based in Tblisi, she’s devoted to reporting on the contemporary social issues in the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine and South Caucasus. Most recently she’s started exploring women, sexuality and gender issues in the former USSR. She is the winner of the Aftermath Project Grant, Canon Female Photojournalist Prize and the Open Society Documentary Photography Grant. She’s been also awarded with prizes by World Press Photo and Photographer of the Year International. But above all, she’s one of the most passionate and experienced photographic storytellers in the region.
© Justyna Mielnikiewicz

We invite you to join us. This will be a unique opportunity to further develop your skills in an amazing, culturally diverse place that is Tblisi and with all the inspiration and knowledge you can get from a seasoned photographer and journalist. And we also will be there for you – the workshopx editors Aleksander Bochenek and Grzegorz Ostrega.
Place: Tbilisi, Georgia

Date: 14 – 18 Sep 2016

Applications close on 12 Aug 2016.

Click here for more info