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2012 Berlin Biennale



For the 7th Berlin Biennale, I am presenting you with a part of my latest photographic work, titled Party’s Over.
I started to work on that series at the beginning of the international economical crisis, prompted by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008.
It is composed of 17 framed photography pieces, lambda print, 170X125 cm. Each one is a contemporary emblema, an illustrated enigma, a picture-text combination. It is an ancient form of communication and as far as my work is concerned, the text is a quote from the daily newspaper.
Nowadays, in a truly critical time, we are witnessing: the decline of human values, the degradation of the environment and the disappearance of social achievements. We are living a moral and economical crisis.

I have been collecting for some years now, clippings from daily newspapers concerning news, images and thoughts, which prompt in me an interest and often an emotion.
“Poetry is more philosophical than history,” said Aristotle, because it is more general and less anecdotal. Not only art is a creation, and not a mirror image, but the reality it creates is longer lasting and more intense than the one upon which it was based”.

Anne-Laure Oberson ( Curator), Geneva, writes:
“The photographs of Lydia Dambassina raise questions. The format, the quality, the choice of subject matter and the text fully involve the cognitive mechanism of the beholder. The work is frontal – the perspective often leads the way to the plane, and asks for a similar stance to its impressive physical presence.

Standing in front of the work, we first contemplate the image on its own, then, most suddenly, the presence of the text comes forth, and in a second phase its reading. Then, something strange happens in the relation from text to image and one does not know which comes first.

The works are composed of two parts – a photographic image in color on top and a text, laid out on the bottom. Nevertheless the photograph and the excerpt from the newspaper belong both to the same visual field: they are fixed on the same medium and formally each with as much attention. The relation text/image is thus more complex than the usual relation image/caption or work/title.
The text can be selected in it entirety, as a found image which suddenly makes sense again; alternatively it can be cut out of context, a portion of it framed as in photography when only a part of reality is selected at the expanse of any other.

In this action the text receives a new life: it is no longer an article from a newspaper but a sentence created by the artist, at the same level as the image, and this happens in spite of the precise references to the source of the original text.
It can be so, because this work does not have a documentary value. It is pure creation, made up from all parts, a real fiction.
From the infinitely intimate to the infinitely public, the photographs of Lydia Dambassina reveal the human condition in its dysfunction and questions the conditions of the production of information, of language, of a work of art.”


These statements concerning one artist’s political beliefs limit art, even if it was not intended as a police-type inquiry; it forces to limit oneself, the expression of his own psyche with all its complexity, contradiction and lack of uniformity, in order to become some sort of police surveillance of themselves.
This statement binds its author to express through his work, aspects of his spiritual foundations, conscious and unconscious, limits art and undermines the relationship between the whole artist self and the work of art. As soon as these statements are made, artists aren’t categorized according to their work, but according to what they have stated.

Because ultimately, it is all about labels:
I am a leftist. I am a fascist etc. Does that mean that my preferences, my points of view coincide with the rest of the people that consider themselves to be leftists or far right-wing? When someone makes a distinction between germans and turks, isn’t there an element of fascism and can’t that same person have an egalitarian vision of humanity as well? The human being holds contradictory elements and positions.

Furthermore, by declaring my political beliefs, I let those who look at my work get used to classifying human beings and artists, and that might be their goal, according to their stated political choice. This in turn leads to authoritarianism and negation of the democratic principle. It is a responsibility not only towards art, but also towards the conquests of the european civilization.
I have one and only political position, I am against totalitarianism. Those who come from countries where they have been through procedures of police filing and recording, in the east as well as in the west, know that these statements reduce people and artists to one-dimensional beings. The entirety of the Weltanschauung, is only conveyed through the artist’s work, and the analysis of all its components often become conscious long after the work is finished and sometimes through the gaze of others.