Thriving Art in Testing Times


An interview with Kostas Kapsianis

“In times where society and humanity are being tested, there is more space for art to thrive. Perhaps in a utopian society, art would have no place to flourish.”

Kostas Kapsianis won our ‘URBAN LIFE’ theme with an image ripe with intrigue – presenting a strange paradox that our judge Peter Funch described as cinematic, and having a deadpan humor.

Keen to learn more, we posed some questions to Kostas, asking him about that image, his working practice, and how the current social and economic challenges in his home country of Greece affect his photography, and the wider art ecosystem….

(Banner image: from the series Bliss)

Hi Kostas. Congratulations on winning our ‘Urban Life’ theme. Our jury noted the irregularity in this Christmas tree sitting a million miles away from the picture-postcard setting one might imagine, decorated and cared-for, juxtaposed into empty surroundings, devoid of life. How did you react to those comments?

Thank you for choosing my work among others. I believe that interpreting a picture can only be a versatile process. The recipient’s point of view over a work of art often inspires and encourages the artist. I found Life Framer’s comments on my picture fruitful and well placed.

The image is from the series ‘Bliss’ – compositions of your home country of Greece, in which we see clean, man-made compositions and manicured nature. High walls and shuttered windows. Each image bereft of human life. Can you tell us a little bit more about the series? How it came about, and what the title ‘Bliss’ means to you?

When Greece entered the period of the economical crisis, I felt that many concepts, perceptions and values that were created in the past within an economic prosperity, were exposed. Often circumstances redefine and expound diversely those values. The following text regarding my project “Bliss” is to give you clarity on what “Bliss” means to me:

“Privacy equals isolation. Withdrawal within the walls. Concrete and closed gates against any likely or unlikely invasion. Thus people,
neighborhood, community and society became undesirable. We replaced nature with lawn. We abandoned timeless values greedily, for social and economic mobility – critical thinking, human measure, community – building nouveau-riche mansions, split-level houses, fortresses and walls.

We closed ourselves inside so as not to see or be seen; to secure our wealth but also to hide the bareness of our soul and spirit. We abandoned the communal; we stopped being citizens. We separated ourselves from the Others, the dirty ones, the strangers. No one was to disturb our peace. Security above all. Yet in this enclosed world each one is on his own, the illegal rules, we are paranoid and permanently threatened. And when the faucet of luxury shuts down we are left alone, destitute as always.”

Kostas’ winning ‘URBAN LIFE’ image, from his series Bliss

From the series Bliss