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  • Reflecting on Collective Identity with Klavdia Balampanidou

    Klavdia Balampanidou is a photographer based in Nicosia, Cyprus. She studied Audio & Visual Arts in Ionian University and took photography classes in Stereosis School of Photography. She is currently studing History and Theory of Arts (MA) in Cyprus University of Technology. Her series Birthplace and Birthname document her roots.

    Forced by the difficult conditions after the collapse of the Soviet Union, her family fled their homes in Avranlo, a small village in Georgia. Twenty years later, Klavdia returned to the village and created a narrative that focuses in the concept of collective identity, while re-considering her origins. This autobiographical documentation does not only return the photographer to its roots, but it also concerns the evolution of societies and an innate human need.

    What prompt you to start photographing for the Birthplace & Birthname ?
    It was something that came naturally. I have always been interested in concepts such as identity and memories since I was an art student. The starting point was three years ago when I felt the need to explain who I was by re-introducing myself. I wrote a small text about the names I had in my life (Klaudia, Klodia, Klavdia) and their meanings to me as a person.

    In the same year, I visited Avranlo, my birthplace, a small village in Georgia, in the area of Tsalka where the inhabitants of the village were Greeks. I returned to the village after 20 years and the occasion was the nostalgia of my parents and my grandfather to return to their “place”, to the place they grew up, loved and forced to give up.

    “Photography acts as a tool for self-exploration and that is the reason why all of my projects are autobiographical”

    One year after, having in my mind the concept of the collective identity, I decided to return to Avranlo to photograph my stay. I was trying to understand the community of the village, my own identity and to figure out if I had something actually in common with the community, except the same place of birth.

    Tanya Traboulsi : Into the Question of Home

    How did you present this project? Would you like to share with us some spreads of this photobook ?
    Birthplace & Birthname was completed in 2018 and presented as a photobook (edition of 5) at the Ionian University as my thesis. The photobook is divided into two parts, as the project itself, the Birthplace (20 x 27cm) and the Birthname as a small booklet (20 x 7,5cm) with the map of Avranlo on the book cover.

    Some photos of the Birthplace series were presented at Athens Photo Festival as part of the New Greek Photographers, with prints of 20x30cm, on fine art paper placed on wooden frame with glass, presented together with some stickers/images in two different sizes.

    What is your relation to color red? I can clearly see it in many of your projects.
    I can’t help it, it is something natural for my universe.

    Why do almost all of your artworks have strong autobiographical elements? Is your new series Crisis of Desire a follow up to this practice?
    One of the many reasons that I love the medium of photography is the ability to express everything that concerns me. It acts as a tool for self-exploration and that is the reason why all of my projects are autobiographical. They are either about my own fears, origins, memories, thoughts or even my mental health and mood. I’m always trying to channel my personal emotions into my work. The Crisis of Desire is an ongoing photo project which deals with the feelings I had after a break-up, when I was trying to suppress my desire. In a way it’s a space where you enter and try to figure out where you want to go.

    What music do you listen to while editing your series?
    I enjoy many different kinds of music such as classical and electronic, but for the editing, I usually listen to lo-fi beats or jazz.

    More on her website.