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“I try to respond intuitively to emotionally resonant ideas, touching on reality as it is unravelling – as if my camera were listening.”

Georges Salameh (born 1973) is an Italian contemporary photographer currently based in Palermo, Sicily.

He studied film in Paris (1991-1994).

Artist statement: “Wandering between Mediterranean shores, when I have to define myself, I become a storyteller…

My tales are like letters to a friend, songs and essays, gestures and words said, or left unsaid, all floating down-stream to oblivion.

I try to respond intuitively to emotionally resonant ideas, touching on reality as it is unravelling – as if my camera were listening.

My view is a search for the right distance from faces and landscapes. It provokes the unexpected through suspense.”

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

Georges Salameh, what is the series about?

“Refuge Dreamgrove” is based on the notion of hospitality.

How did you come up with the idea?

I noticed at some point around 2009 the recurrence in my images of people sleeping in public places, on subways, trains, boats – and that made a phrase reemerge from my childhood years:

“Your home will be the one where you would put your head to sleep and for a pillow one dreamgrove” & its tale: These words were pronounced by a prostitute, hosting a scared 12 years old kid.

He was one of thousands greek survivors from the “Asia Minor Catastroph” of 1922.

To reach Lebanon, he walked barefoot from Smyrna in Turkey, for days, before losing the rest of his family on the road and seek refuge for 4 nights in a brothel in the port area of Beirut.

For the rest of his life, this sentence and that city became his haven.

That kid was my grandfather, the one I never met.

What were the most beautiful, challenging or remarkable moments working on this series?

Two kinds of blissful photographic moments:

On one hand capturing the fragility of sleep and the force of its contaminating serenity.

And on the other, those moments waking up in a foreign place, and making an image as an extension of the feel of home and welcome!

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

How was the creative process? How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?

“I went through the process of reframing a memory.”

Every project has its own process and narrative, but basic elements are mostly experience, raw fiction and poetics of reality.

This one was based on the discovery in my archive of recurrent photographic gestures that are divided into three categories:

#1 Men asleep in public places or means of transport.

#2 Internal spaces where I was welcomed to stay.

#3 View from a host’s window, balcony, or terrace.

With those categories as a compass, I went through the process of reframing a memory.

Why did you become a photographer?

Sometimes photography is the ideal means to tell a story.

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

What does photography mean to you?

A tool as a bricklayer’s hammer is for a geologist.

Which photographer has inspired you most?

When Editing this series, I was inspired by the works of André Kertész & had as reference one particular photo of a man sleeping under a tree by Robert Frank.

Which photographer (contemporary, friend, colleague etc.) has caught your attention lately?

The list can be endless but here’s few names: Chrissoula Voulgari, Roberto Boccaccino, Alexis Vasilikos, Pietro Motisi, Petros Koublis, Yorgos Prinos, Panayiotis Lamprou – for the quality of their gaze and incisive narration.

 

Image from the series Refuge Dreamgrove by Italian photographer Georges Salameh

 

What’s in your photography bag?

A notebook and a Mamiya7 II with a 80mm lens.

What’s your favorite website about photography?

Lately “Phases Magazine”.

Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?

Walk, walk and walk.

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