HERA PAPAMICHAEL, Artist Photographer
Please click on the images to view them in bigger size.
Copyright photos © 1998-2000 Hera Papamichael
In her work, Hera Papamichael aims to recreate rather than perfect the image which she captures through her lens. Through a unique process, she endows her photographs with a quality of deterioration which takes us back to a romantic age, an age when "romanticism" had not yet become a well-worn triviality abundant in a "dime-a-dozen" novels.
Hera Papamichael was born in Athens (Greece) in 1964. She had worked as a fashion model for ten years before deciding to move behind the lens. She started off as an assistant for fashion photographer Katerina Marianou in 1988 and the following year moved to Washington D.C.. where she took courses in photography, including laboratory work. Apart from her purely artistic work, Hera also does fashion photography, portraits, architectural and travel photography.
In Greece, her work has appeared in magazines such as Gynaika, Odyssey, Fun In action, All Nude, Klick, Cosmos and others. In the U.S., she has worked as the director of Photography of Flavor Magazine and in local Washington newspapers. She has also published range of post cards available in the U.S. Hera dreams one day to work for National Geographic.
Icon (Washington, D.C., August 1992)
Penn Camera (Washington, D.C., September 1992)
Louis Bookstore Café (Baltimore, March 1993)
Washington Project far the Arts (Washington, D.C., April 1993)
Washington Arts Center, "Walking the Path of the Goddess" (Washington, D.C. September 1993)
Washington Project for the Arts (Washington, D.C., September 1995)
Washington Arts Center, "Guardian Angel" (Washington, D.C., February 1996)
· Minas Gallery (Baltimore, October 1992)
· Ileana Tounta Center for the Contemporary Arts, "Memory of Woman and Woman's Memory" (Athens, January 1996)
Memory of a Woman and Woman's Memory
As in architecture we have an architect who designs to build and one who designs the unbuilt, thus in photography we have the multiplier and the unique. The unique - as in the case of Hera Papamichael´s with her album - is not far from the art of pointing since every piece of work can exist in no more than a single original. The same one negative, processed by the hand of the photographer herself, is bound to give a different result each time. Such photographers, however, who artistically process every single photograph are few and considered "superfluous" by the guild.
Every photograph has an identity: that of it's creator. A reality not endorsed by all as yet. In our country there is no tradition of the photographer signing the negatives (something which is mandatory by law in other countries). How would we be able to recognize the famous "Varda Negatives" of the 50's, the photos of Agnes Varda from the theater world, if the publication of her name was not mandatory? For there is on eye behind every eyepiece: it is the subject and not the camera which interprets an object. Something like the eye of God.
I say all this because in our country we continue to live a few decades behind, in the time of the written word. However the world has for some decodes now moved on to the age of multimedia. In order to better understand Hera Papamichael´s contribution to art, we have to leave behind the conventional framework of photo albums and move on to the purely creative world of personal expression, where the order of priorities lies with sensitivity.
Take the face of Maria Kallas for instance; Hera uses a conventional negative which she didn't take herself (she couldn't have since she was just born when the great diva was dying). She then processes it in the "memory lab" producing a result of such freshness and subtlety allowing us to discover - in a portrait seen often before - a face in a dream. fresh and beautiful as we would have conjured it through her voice. Papamichael has thus reanimated for us a well-known negative in the way that poetry is measured by the endless reanimation of well-used words.
Trees, roots, boats, neo-classic elements, an old woman's face, "Jenny" and unexpectedly, Melina Mercouri, a Coca Cola ad and the arches of a road which form a cross on a forehead, all signify a singular world: a world of unbridled romanticism (now making a comeback at the end of the century), of mature acceptance of the aged beauty of autumn colors. It is like a scripture, reminiscent of our own (Greek) symbolist Constantinos Hatzopoulos. Like an image, in a hand made book of old engravings. Like a shape of a stamp under the magnifying glass, but without the serrated edges.
Vassilis Vassilikos (Author, Greece)