The negatives, photographs by noted photographers in a state of decomposition due to extensive deterioration before being included in the Benaki Museum's collections, are still of great aesthetic interest despite having lost their narrative context, according to the organisers.
The negatives are in tune with the minimalistic profile of the Festival, being held for the 10th consecutive year, which this year is themed "Less is More".
This year, the organizers revisit the photographic archives of the Benaki Museum, and, together with the curators of the archives, retrieve some very original and interesting material.
The exhibition is about photographs that would have never been put on display under normal circumstances: images that, despite their accuracy from a photographic point of view, have lost their narrative context.
In an archival photographic collection the loss of narrative context is the result of the partial or total destruction of the original material. This damage is mainly the result of unavoidable chemical reactions within its substrate, worsened by unsuitable environmental conditions in their storage prior to their induction into the Benaki Museum collections. What sparked the creation of this exhibition were the contents of drawer XXII, part of a metal filing cabinet located in an area housing the Archive’s original photographic material. The contents of this "Drawer XXI" were an integral part of the archives of many well-known photographers such as Nicholas Tombazis, Dimitris Harissiades, Pericles Papahatzidakis, and Nelly’s and, despite extensive chemical decay to the substrate, they had been preserved. Obviously these images are not representative of the body of work of these photographers nor had they been stored with the intention of ever being put on display.
The "beauty" of decay was the source of inspiration for Benaki Museum photographer Leonidas Kourgiantakis. The "destroyed" negatives have been approached from a fresh perspective and were developed into images of intense aesthetic interest.
The presentation of these photographs in Naxos can be seen as a counterpoint to the ravages of time that are prevalent on the 17th century tower that hosts the exhibition. In an environment of this kind, the viewer is called upon to look beyond the apparent decay, from a personal perspective, to discover the “beauty”….to discover the essence within the remains. 'Less is more', after all, is the theme of the 11th Naxos Festival, which is characterized by presentations that are rich in content but minimal in form, the organisers said.