An Interview With: Dafni Kalokairinou

Who are you and where did you study?

My name is Dafni Kalokairinou, I was born in Athens, Greece and four years ago I came to the UK to study photography at Edinburgh Napier University. I have just graduated and I am currently based in Edinburgh while frequently travelling back home to expand my project.

What is your artist statement for this body of work?

The word stasis derives from the Greek language and signifies a state or condition in which things do not change, move, or progress. This series explores the current situation in Greece, with a focus on young Greeks and their life there. The aftermath of the economic crisis has left a country in a state of everlasting paralysis. Stuck in limbo the only solution for young people is to escape and leave the country or succumb to the suffocating conditions. The static and passive portraits depict the stagnation and despair in a place where everything appears to be paused.

Was there any photographers that you took inspiration off for this project?

 My research never contains solely photographers as I prefer to look for inspiration in different creative fields. However there were two photographers whose work inspired me a lot Panos Kokkinias and Yannis Karpouzis.

Technically how did you choose to shoot this series? 

I decided to mix digital and analogue in this series. There were practical as well as aesthetic reasons for this choice. Lighting-wise I shot the majority of the images at late afternoon to keep the lighting strong but not overpowering. 

The use of colour in the project is very particular, what is the reasoning for this?

The project was shot in Athens, a chaotic city that lacks any consistency in architecture or colour patterns. In order to create a cohesive series I had to shoot and edit the work in a way that colours and shapes would help in the visual transitions between the images but also the narrative of the series.

Was there any problems you faced studying in Scotland but shooting Greece?

The high cost of flights. A long term project demands several reshoots with the appropriate time in-between that will allow your thought process to evolve your original ideas and shape the final series. That meant I had to save up and finance my trips and also keep to a very strict schedule at every visit. I would arrange shoots from the first day I would arrive in Athens to the last possible minute on the day I was leaving.  

Do you have any advice on this for students with similar problems?

Always prepare for more than two visits and save up enough money for a last minute unscheduled reshoot trip. Get organized, try to figure out what you want to achieve in each trip, make a detailed plan and stick to it. Reflect, on the results of every visit and try to find what’s missing so you can schedule in a shoot or reshoot.

What do you want the viewer to gain from this project?

I want to draw attention on this generations experience and Greece was the starting point for me as a young Greek immigrant myself. The vast majority of young people in Greece are faced with a future of limited prospects and continuous unemployment. Many decide to leave and start a life in another country, and those who stay for the most part become enclosed in a motionless society that refuses them a place in it. I wanted to interpret not just my own view and experience of the situation but rather the reality for many people of my age that still live in Greece.  

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to expand Stasis but not restrict myself shooting only in Greece. I would like to explore the lives of young people in the rest of South and also Eastern Europe and potentially expand to other countries and continents. Young people face a future filled with uncertainty and poverty everywhere in the world today and I want to explore this pattern which is deeply rooted in this economic system.

What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?

Always go after something you are passionately interested in and see it through. Don’t give up on any project you are passionate about even when you feel a bit lost, complete it. Also don’t be scared to be political or to express your own views through your work. I feel I used to escape towards more personal and abstract subjects just to avoid asking questions that could potentially make someone or even myself feel uncomfortable. However this does not mean that by looking inwards someone cannot create work with very powerful commentary, as our lives and relationship with ourselves are shaped by the context of a specific sociopolitical environment.

All images copyright of Dafni Kalokairinou.