Chaos and Drama
Chaos and Drama is an exhibition of works taken in Greece.
In 2006, I left home for three weeks to continue my love affair with Greece. I traveled alone this time, preferring to make my itinerary as I saw fit. I thought it the best way to see the country and to get a feel for its people and culture. My camera came with me – I was on a mission to document my experiences in travel photographs, and to try and capture the rugged and ancient land in ways which I felt would convey its spirit. What I found, what I experienced, was something completely unexpected.
In my travels, locals and other visitors often asked me whether I was from Japan, which surprised me. I suppose with my Asiatic appearance, ever-present camera and traveler”s accoutrements, I must have struck the Greeks as a Japanese tourist. The revelation that I was Australian was often met with surprise, followed by curiosity and amazement at the fact that I had traveled so far from home. I learned that people of East Asian descent do not have a reputation for adventure.
This sense of dislocation – that I was an Australian abroad who did not look “Australian” (ie. Caucasian), that I was often mistaken for Japanese or Korean, when I clearly did not identify as either – became something which occupied my thoughts during the course of my travels. Travellers are always outsiders, observers of a time and place to which they can never truly belong. This detachment from events can be liberating (after all, there is power in anonymity), but it can also be tremendously isolating, especially if one were travelling solo on an itinerary which is made up on an almost daily basis.
The photographs I made during my travels became a way of documenting my experiences, and thus a means by which I was visualising this feeling of isolation and dislocation. Greece is a place where nothing is what it seems – a modern society where modernity provides little to veneer the drama and chaos of a civilisation as old as the concept of civilisation itself. You could photograph its classical locations, and come away with pretty-pictures of ruins and whitewashed buildings perched on the edges of soaring cliffs, and completely miss the point. You could shoot with a travel documentarian’s eye, recording local characters, events, activities, and still miss the point.
Ilearned that documenting place is never about just capturing the external world as seen ad nauseum in travel guides, postcards and souvenir pictures; it is about externalising the internal landscape and superimposing it over what is seen, what is deemed to be worthy of a picture and how that picture is made.
Chaos and Drama was exhibited at the Cracked Gallery in Highgate, September-October 2008.