LANDSCAPE: FROM NATURAL TO KITSCH. THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF MARINOS TSAGKARAKIS
by Lina Manousogiannaki



© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'Constructed Landscapes'

Marinos Tsagkarakis is this kind of person who likes enriching his life with knowledge. After two and a half MAs in Economics he decided that it was time for him to expand his horizons and study something that actually freed him. So, he went on to study photography in Stereosis, one of the leading photography schools in Greece for the moment, as he tells me! For him photography is a way out of a life well constructed and organised. It is his way of expression and he loves it!

Marinos’s first work was 'Constructed landscapes', an amazing series, which explores the impact human activities have on the landscape. «This photographic project deals with landscapes that have been completely altered and transformed by human activity into deserted, barren land, the large-scale aftermaths of an industrial age. While their awe resembles the beautifully carved canyons of World Heritage or America’s Wild West, these pieces of land have been degraded both ecologically and aesthetically, stripped off all kind of wildlife and habitation, ultimately defined by an ‘Industrial Ugliness’. From Chalkidiki to Ptolemais and from Thrace to Crete, they are all located in Greece and have been captured in a photographic journey that lasted almost 2 years.»

 
© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'Constructed Landscapes'


© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'Constructed Landscapes'

He is, as he says, much influenced by the Dusseldorf School on this project. He is a bit critical on this work, he tells me; He would have changed the medium for this project, choosing middle format; He believes that middle format would have allowed him to demonstrate more concretely the size, extent, volume of the photographed landscapes. Ever since this realisation, he has chosen to work on middle format and will not change it for anything! He feels that it helps him get in the “photographic mood” as he calls it. The tripod, the cadre, the light measuring... All are parts of this particular ritual which correlates with the actual “prise de vue” well- thought and constructedon film.


© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'The faded carpet Handbook'

Marinos, does not agree with the famous quote from HCB, «Your first 10000 pictures are the worst.» He finds that images made during the years of innocence are a verbalisation of the carelessness the photographer has. They are free of conventions, restrictions, order and discipline! They are the chaos of what our eyes see and the expression of the feelings we have imprinted in a raw manner. Marinos admires the works of Lars Tunbjörk, Alec Soth and Martin Parr. The books of Tunbjörk, 'Office' and 'I love boras', as well as Parr’s 'Last Resort', are on top of his list of photographic works along with Stratos Kalafatis’s 'Journal'.

Evidently, Marinos investigates through his work the impact of human activity in the landscape. The series “Paradise Inn” is a reflection on the influence of tourism on the lives of people who live in Greece.


© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'Paradise Inn'

«In recent decades, countless of artificial “paradises” were developed around the world and their number still grows faster than ever before. This industry that manufactures an entertainment product of mass consumption meant to satisfy the average man’s need for recreational time and fun, that is called tourism. The tourist industry has drastically intruded the land, transforming it into a product while causing several effects with a severe socio-cultural character. Destinations are in danger of losing their original appearance, structure and identity, through a standardization process that aims to satisfy the tourists’ wishes.“Paradise Inn” aims to highlight the consequences of this massive and uncontrolled tourist development. In Greece, as in Southern Europe in general, these effects are reflected on the constructed landscape mostly through the unregulated and shoddy architecture, the kitsch and folklore decoration, the construction and adoption of artificial elements and entertainment structures, the falsification of identity and cultural heritage, the violation of the natural environment and finally the desolation that occurs after peak season.»


© Marinos Tsagkarakis from the series 'Paradise Inn'

Marinos comes from a rather touristic place in the northern part of Crete, a village called Ag. Pelagia, and ever since his childhood he has witnessed the transformation of the landscape to a big touristic arena with locals entertaining dreams and hopes for a successful season, which will help them get by during the winter. Through his work he observes the expansion of kitsch from one rent room to another, from water parks to cafes and restaurants, all created to satisfy the tourists and their needs. His work explores the transformation of the landscapeto a place characterised by bad taste; a resort which shines during the tourist season while the rest of the year it is left in abandonment and oblivion. He tries to demonstrate the high impact of money on the landscape but also on the lives of people, who live in it. He discusses the use of cultural elements for economical purposes... and he seems to wonder how the hell replicas of ancient Greek statues ended up in a water park?

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LINKS
Marinos Tsagkarakis 
Greece