Athanasios Lazarou. Photo Credit: Tin Do
Think of Athanasios Lazarou as a sort of high brow Shane Smith. Armed with a degree in architecture and now pursuing a PhD, Athanasios possesses the youthful zeal of Smith, minus the douchey vibes. His photography portfolio includes moving portraits of Greek subjects during their debt crisis, and stylised portraits of stunning architecture. Here is COLLAGE’S interview with him!
Q: Hello Athanasios! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
A: A participant in the often banal flotsam of everyday life.
I’m currently finishing my PhD on the architectural turns of the Greek crisis, which has invited me around the world to present at conferences and to cover the crisis; it’s been a roller-coaster few years. I also do a lot of work around the architectural profession.
People often recognise me around Adelaide because I dye my hair grey.
Big protest is November 17 demonstration, Athens 2013. Photo credit: Athanasios Lazarou
Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?
A: The film-maker Chris Marker has always been a big influence. His essay films really shaped my outlook towards processes of documentation, particularly Sans Soleil. What interests me artistically are interactions between people and the built environment; specifically, the contradictions which create a movement of bodies in space. I’m inspired by how people organise in public spaces and how that organisation provokes a certain tactical response.
Q: Do you have a preferred medium?
A: Digital Photography (Sony a6000)
Professionally I do a lot of work as a graphic designer with Adobe Creative Suite, but that is another interview.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Real and Allegorical; a hostage to fortune.
People kissing is Liverpool St Station, London 2014. Photo Credit: Athanasios Lazarou
Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?
A: For me, what matters is putting yourself in the situation where great photographs have the conditions to unfold, then being patient. The world is presently undergoing significant political flux, and it’s creating opportunities for the lens to capture the contemporary social-economic political milieu. My work often takes me to conflict-rich scenarios (such as political demonstrations) where more often than not what matters is framing the shot with a human dimension. People often think luck would play a large role in capturing this moment – the hero shot for a newspaper – but in fact, a lot of the success is dependent on learning and rehearsing where the best positions are, then claiming them. My training as an architect is invaluable here.
I’m very minimal with the actual photo itself, there are no special tricks or techniques. I take a lot of photos of a single moment very quickly, then use it as a departure point, moving around the scene, to try to reveal a new moment.
Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?
A: I’m currently interested in architectural photography as a profession. It’s a very pragmatic application for a lot of my interests and carries with it a certain rigour that I find rewarding. I am also trying to improve on my portrait work, and hoping it informs my approach to documenting the built environment.
Two women walking in ‘March in March’, Melbourne 2014. Photo Credit: Athanasios Lazarou
Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be, and why?
A: Jean Jullien. He was the artist that first sketched the ‘Peace for Paris’ symbol. Jullien’s artistic commentary invokes a sensibility about the present condition that is both whimsical and endearing. He manages to seamlessly insert his art into real environments to create the most fantastical moments. His Instagram is a must-follow.
Athanasios’ recommended artist, Jean Jullien. Photo Credit: Daniel Arnold
Q: What is your favourite gallery and why?
A: Absolute favourite has to be the Palais de Tokyo; a machine for contemporary critique. Exposed concrete walls and structural columns unadorned combined with a large and diverse bookstore. I once attended an underground rave/graffiti exhibition in one of its basements.
What attracts me to it is the flexibility of its labyrinthine layout. It circumvents the regular spatial relationship of art galleries, eschewing white corridors for a more warehouse/factory aesthetic. It’s often used as a venue fashion shows too, very cool.
For a local shout out I recommend people visit the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF). Do go and browse the bookstore, it’s always a productive visit.
Athanasios’ favourite local gallery, The Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF)
Q: Where can we find more of your work?
A: I recently launched an online space for publishing long-form articles titled “Analogue Witness” which features many of my photographs. I would describe the site as “the New Yorker, but more violent.”
My photography blog of strictly architecture is titled analoguewitness.tumblr.com and is more-or-less a postcard site.
And of course my Instagram is @athanasioslazarou
Athanasios’ sleek site, Analogue Witness
Q: Which three celebrities dead or alive would you invite to your dinner party and why?
A: Number one has to be John Waters, right? A dinner party wouldn’t be complete without at least one pencil-thin moustache. Aspasia, more commonly known as the wife of Pericles, was a celebrity in her own time, a great thinker, and by all accounts a fabulous host.
Lastly, the one and only Charlie Rose; PBS journalist. I’m a huge fan since childhood. At 74 years old he’s still got it.