It was the year that Andy Warhol and Kansuke Yamamoto died. 1987. In the Greek parliament, the MP Anna Sinodinos displays a photograph that had been exhibited in the Greek Melbourne festival ‘Antipodes’. How is it possible, she asks her fellow-parliamentarians, “that such vulgar and disgusting photographs are given a place in a festival whose aim is to promote the experiences of migrants?” In the same year, Emmanuel Angelicas wins the prestigious international prize for emerging young photographers world wide in Arles France.
The controversial photographs were exhibited in Arles, Sydney and Thessaloniki. Angelicas was then initiated into the secrets of his art in the company of some of the world’s most important exponents of the art of the dark room. But who is Angelicas?
I carefully examine the photographs of his latest exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography. ‘A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know,’ Diane Arbus once said. Is this true of the person behind the camera, I ask myself. Like a rock star, a priest of some lascivious goddess, or a vagrant in a Caravaggio painting, the photographer himself is giving a talk to a group of Australian university students nearby. It is followed by loud applause, a certain restraint, a knot in the stomach. The young students wander through the exhibition, view his Bali photographs, and shake his hand. Even if only for a fleeting moment, you see it in their eyes, they sense the commitment, the total dedication, the passion which lurks behind Angelicas’ photographs. They sense that the photographs they are looking at and the person standing before them are two sides of the same coin. The coin that purchases immortality.
Angelicas has no need of our praise. He has earned ‘the praise of the Demos and the Sophists’. His work has been exhibited in Australia, France, Japan and Greece. For as long as he breathes he will continue to photograph. Whoever has seen his photographs and walked the streets of Marrickville where he grew up and lives, will never escape their influence. Angelicas’ black-and-white Marrickville belongs to the Australian experience.
The interview that you are reading today in Kosmos was over. We were walking along without speaking. Emmanuel broke the silence. ‘Do you know what I do now?’ he said to me, answering his question himself, ‘I’m training myself to take photographs in case I go blind one day’.
Now I know. It wasn’t Angelicas who was talking about his photographs. It was his photographs that were talking, and for a fleeting moment, we had an inkling of their ineffable secrets.
YIANNIS DRAMITINOS (TRANSLATION:PETRO ALEXIOU)
COURTESY Ο KOSMOS THURSDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2013