To create the previously unpublished series Unknown limits, Yiannis Pantelidis obtained a special licence to visit eighteen prisons all across Greece, in order to study the zone separating the condition of confinement from the surrounding atmosphere. What kind of landscapes surround a prison? What kind of occupations and land uses develop around it? How is it that a rigid limit conceptualizes each single path, light opening, or muddy road around it? And how much pressure is exercised on this kind of limit from both sides, when the prison is located in an inhabited area? A gate that can be open or closed becomes an insinuation of confinement. Similarly, the police tape, wrapped around tree trunks and crosses the frame, appears to be discreetly keeping the viewer away from the image’s field and the condition of imprisonment.
Pantelidis makes us confront limits that are unknown to us, since correctional facilities are usually located in the outskirts of cities or in remote parts of the countryside. They resemble heterotopias sown in the entrails of the Greek landscape, places which are unfamiliar even to those who live or work next to them. But how many more places are also unfamiliar to us? Are prison walls airtight barriers that effectively keep the worlds of freedom and confinement apart? Could it be that for many people, enchained as they are by financial, family, social and other difficulties, the division is somewhat blurred?
Following his series Nothing Personal (2015) and other unpublished works currently in progress, Pantelidis maintains a consistent stance, premised on his penetrating study of the prosaic Greek landscape. In this work, where people are present only through their traces and creations, he identifies visible and invisible borders: abandoned yards, artificial swamps, deserted roads. If the experience of the world was marked by a sense of materiality and palpability in the past, in the present –in an era dominated by open meanings, an abundance of immaterial images and information, and constant flux– the invisible limits are silently becoming thicker, creating imperceptible but nevertheless very real confines. Everything is ultimately a matter of limits. Photography as well.
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections