Weekend Takeover: Christos Palios
Our weekend takeover this past weekend was Christos Palios. Raised as a first generation Greek-American his work probes ideas of identity and isolation within urban, industrial, and natural spaces, seeking connection in environments mostly devoid of human figures and where only footprints remain.
Interview by Tyler Austin
Where did the inspiration for your most recent series, Conversations, come from?
Part of the impetus came from a curious observation made during lunch with my only living grandparent in a small Greek mountain village. The battery of an old analog clock inhabiting a specific wall of my grandparent’s kitchen for as long as I can remember had expired, so I asked my grandfather, then 87, for the time. Instead of relying on his wristwatch as I’d expect, he intuitively reached for his clamshell flip-phone from across the dinner table to confirm. It had been a while since visiting my parents’ homeland and I certainly wasn’t used to seeing him with a cell-phone. That defining moment cemented my realization that portable devices have swiftly become permanent tools and fixtures in daily life across all age groups. In tandem with a celebration of culture, the ideas of consumerism and waste also occurred to me throughout this narrative as humanitarian crises took shape around the globe, particularly given the presence of food and cell-phones as motifs throughout the compositions.
In what ways would you say you have changed as a photographer since making some of your earlier work?
Several years ago I began intensely researching online publications, museums, and various spaces that exhibited image-based art. I discovered an abundance of important stories being told through cohesive series of pictures vs. standalone images. By reading as much as possible along with a finger on the pulse of prevailing socio-cultural concerns, I began experimenting with subjects that compelled me and coincided with meaningful perspectives from my own life. This inevitably influenced my approach to art by fostering a deeper consciousness and a desire to share personal narratives embodying purpose and meaning within my photographs.
Why photography? How did you get involved in it?
With my heritage originating entirely in Greece, I’ve been traveling there since I was a toddler after my parents immigrated in the mid 70s, first to New York, and then finally settling in Baltimore. Since 2013 I’ve committed to visiting at least a month each year for research and image-making. Speaking the language fluently, coupled with Greek hospitality with friends and family in many regions, has facilitated exploration of projects throughout the country.
Three bodies of work have stemmed from these journeys: Un-Finished // Contemporary Ruins, which documents abandoned new constructions in remote areas throughout Greece, The Gold of Greece (pictured above), a photo essay of traditional vs. contemporary methods of olive-oil production, and a B&W collection of studies in Greece.
A yet-unreleased series, tentatively titled Watch Tower, captures the ebb and flow of Greece’s military involvement in various conflicts throughout the country’s last two centuries. Photographs consist of remote and forgotten bunkers, pillboxes, outposts, and other military fortifications strategically placed along crucial defense locations such as coastlines, bridges, rail lines, ravines, and hillsides. Many of these structures survive untouched, though some not without nature’s hand in reclamation.
Which of your series speaks to you the most? Why?
If I had to choose, I’d go with Conversations (pictured below). For me these still-lifes serve as time capsules of contemporary moments and they also speak to the broader narrative cited above. I’d also go with this series given my view on the importance of family and camaraderie, connectedness and diversity, which have existed around the world and will continue to do so in perpetuity so long as we remain responsible, kind, open and sentient.
Who are some artists who inspire you/your work?
There is a plethora of talent I’ve been grateful to experience, to name a few: Crewdson for notable mastery of light, Koudelka’s gritty and unrelenting ambition, Dutch still-life painters for symbolism and exacting aesthetic precision.
If you could teach a class on any subject what would it be?
Defense Against the Dark Arts.
How often do you carry your camera with you?
Not as often now given more focused subject matter; however when in the midst of a project, quite nearly all the time.
What is one thing you would tell yourself when you were starting out as a photographer?
Visit even more galleries, museums, and other meccas for exposure to the arts—the education, influence and inspiration are invaluable for creative evolution!