by Lina Manousogiannaki

Petros Efstathiades was fifteen years old when his theology teacher presented the class with a lecture on the history of photography. Petros was so impressed that he was keen to buy a camera and stumbled upon a second hand one. «Of course the camera was broken», he says. «From day one photography has been trouble for me.... But that’s what I’ve always wanted to do!»

© Petros Efstathiadis from the series 'Prison', Fire engine, 2014

As a young photographer Petros recorded his surroundings randomly. «At the beginning you do the basics, you don’t know why you are photographing, but you find something visually exciting and you want to capture it», he explains. In his quest for more visual stimulation, Petros started watching old movies at night “instead of porn”, he says jokingly. Cinema has offered Petros a new point of view for his work. Scenography is a passion of his, which becomes rather evident when we look at his images; all of them are staged and well-constructed installations or items.

© Petros Efstathiadis from the series 'Gold Rush', Preacher House, 2016

© Petros Efstathiadis from the series 'Gold Rush', The Bottom of the Pool, 2016

After several years of practicing with staged images, he decided that there was nothing more for him to do in Greece. «2005 Greece was a nightmare for me. It was all about making money and having a big car, more houses, spend more, have a blonde girlfriend, break dishes every day and all these disgusting clichés. So I got my bag full of clothes and one day I was in England studying photography. That was pure joy it was better than I had ever hoped», he says.

Petros considers his early works to be pointless, but necessary in order to evolve in the field. When he decided to change his equipment, the next steps in his work came along naturally. He now uses a PhaseOne and he is really content with the results, which he finds offer as much clarity and detail as his old equipment. The artist loves working with film, but feels that digital equipment can offer equal or even more possibilities for the artist.

© Petros Efstathiadis from the series 'Bombs', bomb#2#

The photographer’s latest body of work is 'Gold Rush'. The work is a metaphorical journey based on a real life event. Petros comes from a village that will soon become a pipeline worksite. «The villagers agreed to give land to the gas company, as did my father» says. «I witnessed my father shaking hands with the company and signing a contract. Peach trees will be replaced by a massive pipeline». Petros explores and describes in his own particular way the transformation of the village and the surrounding atmosphere. «I’m trying to recreate the feeling of a colony and the process of a small village becoming a boom town. The desire of making money fast and the big issues that upset the village’s normality», Petros reveals. «In the short term economic growth, but in the long run there will be a disaster zone or maybe I’m just imagining some fantasies». It is these kinds of fantasies that provide the spark for Petros’ works. It all starts with some kind of visual stimulation. The set up, first on paper, begins and then the construction of the installations follows. This is the lonely part of the process. During this construction phase Petros is rather withdrawn and distant, always looking to hide his work and protect it from curious and indiscrete eyes. 'Gold Rush' is a work in progress, always growing until the creator feels satisfied and complete with the images he has produced. Petros is really concentrated on the body of work he is working on and doesn’t seem to enjoy mixing. Besides, his constructions take so much time, energy and thought that we cannot but wonder how anyone could think of anything different during this period of creation. He does have ideas in mind, but he prefers to write them down in his little notebook and then eventually get to it.

© Petros Efstathiadis from the series 'Lohos'

While this rather interesting conversation is coming to an end, we ask Petros to mention some of the artists who have inspired him: «Everything makes sense when I look at Walker Evans, Jean Tinguely, Robert Bresson and Peter Watkins». Books he loves? «'Dalston anatomy' by Lorenzo Vitturi, 'Wilderman' by Charles Frégerand and 'American photographs' by Walker Evans».


Petros Efstathiadis