CM: Dina Koumpouli's Monographs were created for the 13th International Month of Photography in 2006, entitled On Faces, and were exhibited at Agathi Art Gallery in Athens. The idea of Koumpouli - to create a series of portraits whose presence would combine the sitter's 'known' and 'un-known' aspects - is both original and daring. The fundamental premise of Monographs is that people lead lives that are not 'really' theirs, but have been influenced by external factors. Without exception, we all hide to various degrees within us identities, desires, aspirations and fears. Such 'extensions' of ourselves, we are either unwilling to admit or negotiate, for reasons that vary per case. Monographs caused a variety of reactions to those who were invited to take part - some were deterred to participate owing to self-censorship, while others were keen to expose their inner-most desire that was co-erced by their environment or to encounter that which they were afraid hitherto to reveal.
With Monographs Koumpouli eloquently describes the fantasy of one transcending oneself and to present one as something beyond one's true nature. The photographer asked her models to pose on the flat roof of a building from whose background emerged walls that seem to be endless. Koumpouli refers to these walls as the Homeric "Clashing Rocks of our lives", factors that confine our behavior and define our role. In the center of such a stage, surrounded by all sorts of 'no' and 'don't', rises every individual unit independently to present its dual truth, 'that which it is' along with 'that which it feels to be'. Koumpouli asked her models to display on a hanger a reproduction of their desire, as if it were a piece of clothe, which is potentially to be 'worn'. She also advised her models to shut their eyes to facilitate their transition from the 'real' to the 'desired' sphere.
For his portrait the New York saxophonist Jo Tornabene chose to express a subjective fear; his fear of becoming invalid, which – to him – symbolizes the inability to serve oneself.
[Megakles Rogakos 03/2007]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Silent Dialogues: Multimedia Portraits Throughout Time 2008 The American College of Greece, Athens