I can say a lot about the work of Virginia Chormoviti because I appreciate it and there are many elements that have greatly impressed me.
Firstly, I realised both at a personal level and through discussions with others who have seen her photographs that the viewer isn´t just a passive receiver but also responds in a mnemonic and neuro-physiological way to the stimuli of the picture and the narration behind the image, hierarchizing and combining the impressions at the moment of viewing with his own memories and experiences. In our times we have grown tired of pictures that are “self-explanatory” either through the title or the content, and that don´t allow the viewer to let his gaze wander free and make his own associations. It´s a rare occurrence to find photos that capture the viewer’s gaze, and which allow the focus to lead to a personal reflection. This in itself turns Virginia’s photos into works of art.
Secondly, when I visited Virginia’s previous exhibitions, people around me made the following comment: “What nice pictures! They look like paintings!” Roland Barthes, in “Picture-Music-Text”, referring to the relationship between photography and painting, states that what haunts artistic photography is the ghost of “real”. I think this ghost doesn´t haunt Virginia´s photos. Obviously, the instrumental use of digital analysis of the images helps create the “imaginary space”. In Virginia’s photos there is a balanced osmosis between the “real” and the “imaginary” that is her trademark quality. The result is so successful that the photo is mistaken for a painting.
According to Barthes, the symbolic interpretation of space in paintings and the interpretation of the photographed space as a system of signifiers and meanings for the signification of visual stimulation is rooted in the overthrowing of old communication models. It´s obvious, according to this logic, that the way, in which space is economized in Virginias’ pictures, leads to an a posteriori impression, organizes the ambiguity of a reflection or a mirage, in order to manage the time and to control the findings that arise either as emotions or as memories. The observer of the photographs isn´t positioned within a certain distance but seems free to allow his gaze to wonder in and around the space. This liberation from the necessity of explanatory thought relieves the viewer from the effort to look for realities as he enters the magical universe of the image’s symbols.
Thirdly, it is apparent that Virginia has studied a lot, has worked hard and has achieved through her photographs what Arnheim claims, referring to the goal of artistic representation: “[The filmmaker - in other words the photographer] presents the world not only as it appears, but both objectively and subjectively. He creates new realities where things can multiply, the movements and the action of the persons can be transferred to the past, distorted, slowed down or accelerated… He gives life to the stone and commands it to move. He creates images through chaos and infinity… images so subjective and complex as a painting composition.”
Since social media have solidly entered our lives, the aesthetic of the selfie-photos has invaded us. Photography has lost its magic and serves the atavistic and deceptive vision of “I am here too”. Photography lost its artistic qualities and acquired the instrumental use of space and time´s segmentation. Virginia Chormoviti with her photos has escaped from this pulverization and has managed to give a quantum dimension to time and space, harmoniously narrating the environment and its realities.
Fourthly, in Greece, especially for the photography of cities there are two dominant tendencies. The first tendency is the touristic, postcard, orientalist aesthetics, with issues related to the archaeological sites, traditional buildings, landmarks, tourist attractions. The second tendency is what I would call “Angelopoulos” aesthetics. It is known that Theo Angelopoulos used the urban landscape as a natural setting for his films, giving a psychological dimension to the interpretation of the landscape. In the Angelopoulos landscape, the morning winter mist around the lake, the rain, the old huts, and the dull colors were the elements that constituted his aesthetics which made him world-famous.
Later directors, photographers and painters have “leaned” on these two tendencies to capture the city. Virginia is innovating in proposing a new view of the city, going beyond those two tendencies. Through the reflections and refractions in her photographs, we discover images of the city that have not been seen before and will not be seen again. The photos are neither informative nor do they aim at psychological profiling. They are serendipitous space-time impressions that give importance to the aesthetical narrative details which result from the persistent observation of a prismatic world and have not been captured before. Each angle of the prism produces another visual point for the city with different aesthetic features. The viewer of the photographs sees aesthetic maps of the city and not the city itself and he freely wanders not in the geographical points of the city but in interpretations of the sense of the city that the photographer has captured.
The mirror is full of breaks and cracks all along its length and width, creating an illusion of a frozen lake, on the surface of which somebody struck bumps. The vertical lake is not deserted, a human figure that holds a lens is reflected over it. As the figure, from the outside, is self-photographed, a ritual, the “shamanic” click, is enough to suddenly pass to the inside and from the front to the back. The perpetrator chooses to be found on the back of the mirror and becomes both subject and object of the view.
In general, the gesture of photography reveals an intention of reflection; what else is a photograph, if not the doubling of our existence? Can anyone object that this happens when the person being photographed is oneself – but when the frame contains someone else, a landscape or an image without a clear origin? Well, I think by mirroring one’s environment the creature with the camera (since this is the human being, an animal linked with the tools that distinguish it from the other mammals), attaches to its consciousness a memory bank, so it makes sure to repeat its experience of viewing in order not to be swallowed by time irrevocably.
Virginia Chormoviti chooses to place a natural filter between her camera and the world, a filter so catalytic and deforming on the visual perception, that finally the filter itself is seen as the final object of the eye. Water, this deity, which constitutes the 70% of the human body and 70% of the planet’s body (what a convenient coincidence), while 1 billion populations does not have access to its potable version, gives its “shape” to the thematic unit of the photographer, titled, “Fata Morgana II”. Let’s take a look at the photographer’s look – another opportunity for a relationship that this unsurpassed human invention gives us: look at the looks.
It is known, the painting of the enormous Spanish Francisco Goya that shows “The Half-Submerged Dog” (1819-1823, with the homonymous title), immersed in the dark brown base of a terrene landscape where the ocher prevails. The dog is staring anxiously upwards, towards a shadowy mass that looks like a human being. I am referring to this shocking work, because Virginia Chormoviti has created an image of similar geometry and colour composition, with emotional tension. A vertical photo, following the reverse colour gradient, with dark brown in the sky and ocher spreading to the base of the work. There, at the bottom, we have again a dog, which disproportionately carefree, walks away from a human figure, distinct, but influenced by the black shadows, thus showing masked and threatening. Goya’s environment is re-envisioned here, completely grounded in colours, but made of wavy water curtains. The land became water with the innocent dog always here. The giant has become small but without spectral ambiguity, is now more real and more “political”. Perhaps the widespread knowledge of the Spanish culture of Virginia Chormoviti has led her to such an unconscious and deforming reflection of the “The Half-Submerged Dog”, ultimately creating a totally immersive picture, a narrative echoing as an enigma in the imagination of the impressed spectator.
The layout of the above picture as well as its narrative clarity is not found in other photos of the unity. The photographer seems to be swimming freely, but with a concentrated navigator as her aesthetic instinct, in the fluidity of beauty and the beauty of fluidity that Water, as a true witch of optical illusion and charm, is constantly revealing to her. She accepts the challenge of Fata Morgana, a witch of medieval legends and stepsister of King of Arthur, who was associated with the Sirens and gives her name to the homonymous meteorological phenomenon, which means “Double reflection” – and dives.
The photographer’s lens is in harmony with the accidental, until she slowly catches up to direct it. She produces pictures with a “matiera” in the sense that the formalistic contemplation of the surface of the water has some relation with the painting landscape. A wet landscape, focused, subtractive and confident in the “self-created” virtues of the natural landscape itself. A series of visual watercolored photographs taken from a technological Siren of water that traps what she loves under the surface, returning the optical illusion to the native area of the legend. There, the reflection takes back the magical power that was deprived of the disenchantment of the modern world. This is the fare that the photographer gives to us: she uses Technology to lead us once again fascinated in Magic.
Can Virginia Chormoviti really take a picture of the Fata Morgana´s phenomenon? The conditions of this impressive meteorological “trick” linking an image to the horizon with its inverted image is not what the photographer’s lens is looking for. However, the magic that the retina itself offers and the palaces that are voluntarily set up on the beauty of the optical illusion, are elements found in the photographic homage of Chormoviti to Fata Morgana of life – of these mental need that extends upwards, reflecting, our perishable existence in an art idol
Reflection of a dreamlike reality
“Photography is emotion, memory, moment, takes something from life and makes it immortal!”
Virginia Chormoviti is a restless presence, dynamic and enthusiastic, with an explosive temperament that drives you into her dream, with her spiritual sharpness, intense gestural movement and torrential speech. Romantic at the frontier of necessity and with decent introversion, she hypnotizes you in the deep green with the violet rays of her gaze!
Her glance is a straight-shooting, scintillating one that aims without deviations and stays still until it has conquered you, with persistence and perseverance, but also with understandable personal investment to achieve her goal. This “glance” found a way of expression through the art of photography. It becomes apparent that her gaze can select the place, the hour, the moment of time, that her photographic lens will capture for eternity!
This exquisite artist creates a narrative atmosphere of images of exceptional rendering that stimulate interest, are to the spectator’s delight and reveal the breadth of her talent. Realistic scenes are imprinted through the skillful use of illusion, with the dominance of the mirage, to map the desires of the gaze into unique visual experiences.
Through the compositions of her images she portrays a modern urban anthropogeographical reality, with adapted perpetual elements of an imaginative allegory, of fantasy, of an obsessive memory where the image of the photograph is confused with the impression of a painted rendering. Her photographs do not show the reality that is visible to all of us. It´s the reality that escapes us, surpasses us, that we perceive it but do not see. It´s the realism of intense observation, penetration, dreamlike perception.
The place is the reference, the story, the signs. Identifiable architectural landmarks and monuments indicate its identity. The idealized portrayal of the landscape as a given result of a photographic reception is absent. The landscape is implied, the city, the hour, the time, are drawn up in a mystical encounter, searching for the elemental and transcendent, the multifaceted and the eudemonic. With respect and emotion, she treats the architectural structure, a symbol of the city, of every place, as a being that constantly transforms and narrates its own utopic stories. The city buildings become places of calm and mental reflection, offering exceptional visual impressions and excellent dazzling reflections of light. The power of nature with cloudy skies, where few points and intervals of sunlight or lunar light are distinguished by the great spots of rain on the ground, adding dominance to the image and intensity to the dramatic element.
The camera lens takes the image and connects it semantically and aesthetically to different approaches of the visual expression of our emotions. Using different expressive means, she creates complementary impressions, multiple directions, functional relationships that the viewer is called upon to analyze, interpret, understand and feel at will, revealing his own interpretation and truth.
Having the driving force of the dual intention of creation, the desire and courage to express without limitations, she escapes from the traditional manipulations of photographic art to find solutions to her artistic anxieties. With constant and intense mood for endless experimentation, indissolubly linked to the improvisational mentality and interference, her images are renewed in spectacular continuity while showing the relationship that links the gaze with imagination and personal expression.
The basic source of inspiration comes from the irresistible sense of the unsatisfied that holds her. The artistic and sometimes humorous point of view create visual repetitions with organic forms that change the traditional perception of photography. She becomes a huntress of ephemeral and timeless moments, she adopts profoundly imaginative practices, creative imagination, cultivating the result of the accidental. For her intense internal search, she uses instinct, the challenge, determination, and with empirical knowledge she is driven to the desired. The moment of emotional intake of the image takes place in the absence of timing and under the invincible charm of silence.
A storm of sensations and exciting, unexpected experiences floods the picture. Depending on the interaction of light and shadow, sources are created with transparent, bounded reflections, a central pole of attraction and magnetism, and a harmonic light of illusion and allegory. Bundles of intense, vibrant colors run through the image, intersect it, subdue it. The expression of color instantly meets the impression of fuzzy white, transparent blue, blood red. Simple, harmonic, excess clarity and multi-refractive surfaces result in lacy, corrugated ends.
Valuable, critical time experiences are instantly recorded, delivering the unique and never to be repeated shot. Free images, fragmented, incomprehensible or controversial, of discrete sensibility, released from the show, reflect their beauty with thematic diversity, engage the thought and the emotional intelligence, activating senses and emotion. Fluent, real-life images, experiential performances that create an intimate and at the same time ecumenical atmosphere, are revived in light and shadow, and between order and disorder, predictable and unpredictable, conquer, submit our being. Austere scenes of romantic minimalism lie between liveliness and balance, creating a composition that points to the depiction of a fantastic, inspired world. Between subtraction and peculiar surreal elements, the result, pursued or deliberately achieved, creates an unprecedented, strange atmosphere, erasing the most sensible face of faith in life and endless resistance in the end.
Virginia Chormoviti looks for the truth with expressive power in a creative approach of reality and illusion. With authentic and personal stamp, she creates visual impressions giving substance to the insignificant. She proves herself as a gifted artist, a high-minded and sensible creator who skillfully manages to confirm the French poet Paul Claudel’s statement. “There are two ways to shine, either to reflect the light or to create it!”.
Virginia Chormoviti’s own recent section of works is titled “Foto-Yiálina Yiánnina”, to allow the creator to indicate the autumnal, drenched in humidity atmosphere, but also that of winter in the city, and mainly her subjectively charged look, which emotionally clouds the landscape.
Purposely, Virginia Chormoviti undermines, at least ethically, the “objectivity” of the momentarily performance of her photographic lens. What her eye captures is processed in the laboratory as her primary material. Then, she degrades her “elements”, overturns and rebuilds them, seeking a different aesthetic and artistic objective, one that brings out what is familiar in an unfamiliar fashion, while at the same time coloring through tonality, an atmospheric situation.
It is mainly the development of a photographer’s relationship with space and with locality, with the internalized but yet mythical dimension and its “sizes”, with distances as well as with time.
The city is personalized and at the same time declassified, as Virginia Chormoviti possesses the ability to present it through her constant variability as she skillfully allocates it to a number of visual elements. In this way and with the proper visual manipulation, she conjures up in the mind of the viewer, “speculations” from the soul, both of his individual and collective memory. In this case, the subconscious plays the leading role.
In this respect, the instantaneous reception and presentation of the changes in the image, as well as the fluidity of the impressions that it creates each time, we can “visualize” states of mind, through which we decode and perceive the myriad facets of inner and outer reality.