27 May 2008

June ’08: Genevieve Coutroubis

Posted by jessicakh under: Interviews .

Genevieve Coutroubis is a documentary photographer based in Philadelphia and works with emerging artists and the community as Director of the Regional Arts Programs at the Center For Emerging Visual Artists. Ms. Coutroubis has been one of the most active and committed B&W printers at Project Basho. Her work is currently on exhibit at Surcle Gallery, located on 110 Church Street, Philadelphia. The exhibit will be open May 11 through June 6 with a First Friday closing reception on June 6, 5 to 8 PM. For more information, please visit her website.

How long have you been a photographer?

I started photographing 19 years ago. I had an amazing photography teacher in high school that encouraged me to pursue photography in college.

What is your background/education?

I have a BS Photojournalism from Boston University and a MS Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

What is your process? What camera(s) do you use?

I mostly use my Nikon FM2 for my black and white work. I love the flexibility and durability of this camera. In terms of output I still use the black and white darkroom. 50% of what I love about photography happens in the darkroom. I don’t have the same experience or results when working with photography on the computer. I have begun to use a Holga camera to create color work as well. I love the effect the Holga brings to my images.

People photograph for different reasons. What does photography mean to you?

My work has always been rooted in social change. I believe images give people access to information and experiences they might not otherwise have. I also love to use my camera as a tool of exploration. Whether I

am documenting villages and towns I’ve never seen or the places I call home, my photography allows me to experience Greece in a way I wouldn’t otherwise.

Tell us about your recent work.

My work includes my black and white portraiture which I have most recently presented as an installation at Surcle Gallery in Philadelphia. The installation is inspired by the photograph-filled walls of the Greek homes I’ve encountered in my travels. Rather than framing and hanging the work in a conventional and uniform manner, I printed images (to-size) for old and antique frames. I presented this work as groupings and clusters that mirror the family photographs in contemporary Greek homes.

In addition, I have recently started to create color Holga images of Greece as well as collect sound recordings throughout the country. Presenting work about one subject matter in such a variety of ways allows my audiences to get a fuller sense of Greece and, ideally, simulating aspects of what it feels like to “be there.”

Greece seems to be a central focus in your photography, can you tell us why that is? Do you photograph other places/subject matter?

I have been photographing Greece for 13 years but I really turned all of my attention there seven years ago. I am a dual citizen (Greek/American) and I have spent my life between the two countries. I currently return twice a year. The material I collect during those returns provides me with enough work in the darkroom for the rest of the year.

I enjoy working on a project that combines my personal identity with my goal of promoting social change by encouraging understanding, cultural awareness and social awareness. Rather than using photographs to extract people from society (ie. exclusively photographing immigrant communities in Greece or political movements), I am inspired to photograph social landscapes. By presenting a holistic vision of a society, in my case Greece, specific aspects (ie. immigration, poverty, gender roles) will surface as they exist within the social fabric. In this series I have hundreds of photographs that range from portraits, images of objects, landscapes, text in the landscape, etc. I travel throughout cities, villages, islands and the mountains in Greece to gain the widest perspective possible.

Tell us about your photographs of graffiti in Greece . How have you seen this form of public political protest in Greece change over the years?

I have been photographing graffiti and political posters, basically text in the visual landscape, for as long as I have been photographing in Greece. I presented this work for the first time this year through the Women to Watch Exhibition at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. This group of images, though I have exhibited it on its own, is meant to be viewed in a conversation with my other photography of Greece. My interest in this project as a whole is to show Greece as a multifaceted country. By including this text-based work, I can explore the socio-political climate over the years.

The political nature of Greece has remained constant though the issues that they grapple with are evolving. Three themes I have noticed in the political posters and graffiti are, the US and our involvement in Iraq, immigration, and the environment.

How has your work evolve over the 13 years you have been working in Greece?

When I began photographing Greece I primarily photographed the people. As my project and interest has evolved I have begun to strive for a more inclusive view of the country. I began to incorporate the graffitti/poster work, color images of places and sound. I try to capture many components of this complex place.

What role does your background and study in anthropology/sociology play in your work?

Much of the work I do in Greece is ethnographic in nature. I use both the methodology and ethical considerations that I spent years studying in the social sciences. My interest photographing subjects over years, rather than in creating two or three week projects is a direct result of my studies. My constant assessment of my role as the photographer is also a bi-product of this academic framework.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I will be showing more of my color Holga work and I will be expanding on the use of sound in my artwork.

One Comment so far...

Al B. For Says:

29 May 2008 at 9:07 pm.

This is like so motivating.


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