Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Eva Voutsaki

Mythology, memory, and a fascination with the nocturnal are some of the underlying themes in Eva Voutsaki’s photographs. Originally from Drakona, a small village on the island of Crete in Greece, the artist documents and commemorates the unique way in which she understands her ongoing experience as a “modern immigrant.” Now living in Brighton, UK, Voutsaki grapples with notions of migration and belonging, and the ways in which photography can become a window into a shared, relatable world.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

One of Voutsaki’s more autobiographical projects, Traces Within (2006–2016) is an exhibition of an unraveling childhood. In this body of work, a series of thirty photographs embody Voutsaki’s excavation of memories from her distant past. The artist doesn’t plan or construct her photographs—her strategy simply involves walking around with a manual Nikon camera to capture shots on impulse. In one of the images from this series, a child is caught in mid-movement near some swimming turtles. The artist describes the scene of as one that caught her off guard and compelled her to capture the moment. Soon after she developed the film, the reason behind Voutsaki’s compulsion became clear: The image evoked memories of the week she left her village at the age of fifteen, a time that coincided with her grandmother’s and dog’s deaths.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory and the mother of all the Muses, the goddesses that inspire literature, science, and the arts. For Voutsaki, whose early education included stories from mythology, this distinction is fundamental. In 2008, her attraction to mythology resurfaced in the process of developing her work, when she realized that much of her photography evokes notions of creative output as related to memory. In one photograph in the Traces Within series, a blurry image of a dog walking in darkness conjures Voutsaki’s memory of spending nights at her grandmother’s house, with the sound of the wailing wind and the creaking door eliciting fears of being attacked by a wolf.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Voutsaki doesn’t use a tripod and takes photographs only at night. Desired aesthetic qualities emerge from these decisions, but they originate in her early ways of seeing—a night owl by nature, Voutsaki used her premature bedtime hours to outline shapes of shadows reflected on her bedroom ceiling. The night is when one can “discover the light of the darkness,” she says. An astigmatism in one eye also means that her natural mode of viewing lacks focus; when she was a child, looking out her window, the moon appeared to be “breathing.” Voutsaki finds the blurriness in her photographs a more accurate reflection of her vantage.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Traces Within series, 2006-2016. Courtesy of the Artist.

Voutsaki’s more recent in-progress projects Achronos (“timeless”) and Homo Ruralis (“rural human being”) are an exploration of the artist’s experiences of departure and transition. In Achronos, she documents objects that remind her of the home that she has carried with her in her travels. Homo Ruralis is a photojournalistic exercise that captures the lives and times of her small village of 100 people. She has another project that archives the photographs of the village elders in an interactive family sketchbook; photography is a way of working with both the extant past and what will someday become memory. Voutsaki’s practice is an extension of the more intimate contours of her passage through life.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Homo Ruralis series. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki. From the Homo Ruralis series. Courtesy of the Artist.

Eva Voutsaki is a photographer and educator based in Brighton, UK. Her project Traces Within has been awarded honorable mentions at the 2008 and 2009 PX3 Paris Photography Prize competition in the category of Fine Art Student, and has been internationally recognized and exhibited at the 2009 Arles juried festival Voies Off; the 2010 Rome Fotografia Festival at the MACRO Museum of Contemporary Arts; BOM gallery in Seoul; Menier and HOST gallery in London; and the F Photobook Show at the Tokyo Institute of Photography in 2014. The artist will self-publish Traces Within as a photobook in 2016.

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