Yorgos Yatromanolakis is a greek photographer who lives and works between Athens and Crete. His work is focusing on long-term photography projects that turns them into books, experimenting with storytelling, materials and design. His latest photobook The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings (2018), published by Void, will be at the heart of our conversation.
To start us off, could you tell us about your early interactions with the medium?
It started 10 years ago from a need for a personal recording of the action of radical movements in my country, Greece, during times of social and political unrest. After that, photography became part of my life. Images for me are like words of a primordial language. Both quiet and chaotic, this language has the power to reveal undiscovered realities and worlds.
What was the starting point of your recent long-term project, The Splitting of the Chrysalis and the Slow Unfolding of the Wings?
The Splitting of the Chrysalis and the Slow Unfolding of the Wings is a visual notebook that was structured by my personal experience. The starting point of this adventure was my unforeseen return to my homeland and my residence at my family home, situated in a mountain village of Crete.
In the photobook we can see the progress of an internal process of metamorphosis as you have also mentioned in your project statement. What role do animals have in this process?
In a dream world, animals and plants as the main characters of storytelling sometimes acquire human qualities and sometimes magical abilities. Αs I wandered in nature, I began to observe in detail the changes and the transitions at the places I would visit. What triggered me the most was the biological process of metamorphosis in some animal species. I also felt that it reflected in an allegorical way my thoughts and feelings.
The photobook’s flow holds the reader’s attention throughout. Could you tell us about the process of editing a wide body of work that includes images taken over a period of four years?
The structure and the editing of the book are inspired by the idea of liminal space and on the rights of passage, the rituals in anthropology that mark the transitions from one life phase to another. So, the book could be divided into three main sections/phases; separation, transition, and reassimilation.
“What triggered me the most was the biological process of metamorphosis in some animal species. I also felt that it reflected in an allegorical way my thoughts and feelings”.
Concerning the process of editing specifically, I think that what was really important is that during these years, in parallel with the photographic process, I devoted a great deal of time to editing and designing the book.
Completing a book requires time, experimentation, trials, and taking time and distance in between.
Some photographers prefer photobooks, while others prepare exhibitions for presenting their work. Taking into consideration your artistic activity, you probably belong to the first category. Where do you position yourself, and why do you prefer this way of presentation?
Exhibitions and books are two completely different media for presenting a photographic work, especially in what concerns space and time. There have been many amazing photography exhibitions that make you feel as if you are entering a magic box. The reason why I love photobooks a little bit more is that they are intimate objects. Their creators, as well as their viewers, develop a personal relationship with them and find different meanings and interpretations in them. What’s really interesting is also how the books’ materiality catalyzes the formation of this relationship. Moreover, books have an unknown and unpredictable life cycle. Like capsules, they have the ability to travel, waiting to be discovered, forgotten, or appreciated again by people over time.
Yorgos is organizing a presentation of the book at Paris Photo and an exhibition in collaboration with other photographers in Berlin. Additionally, in the spring of 2019, he will participate in the LensCulture Art Photography Awards exhibition at the Aperture Gallery in New York.