Before the appearance of television and the internet, wandering travelers would often bring new experiences and mores, and a different aura to the small, inward-looking communities they visited. The Outsider is a previously unpublished series by Yiorgos Depollas. The protagonist hails from some faraway, unidentified place and comes from an also unidentified time. In the first photograph, he appears emerging –fully dressed– from the sea, a reference to an emblematic scene from Theodoros Angelopoulos’ film The Travelling Players (1975), in which a man who is facing the Nazi firing squad asks his executioners with disarming honesty: “I came from the sea, from Ionia. Where did you come from?”. Since the photographer himself has migrant roots in Ionia, the photo also has a latent autobiographical thread.
In the works of this series, Depollas stages himself in a vaguely military garb, an allusion to past and present wars, and to unnamed places that indicate abandonment, destitution, calamity. The Outsider appears to travel through time and space, crossing the country in a time of crisis, which is always implicit: he watches in puzzlement, endures, survives, attempts to change things, fails. He appears guarding a pass (another historical reference), screaming in desperation, attempting to put things in order or trying to straighten out a bended tree, standing there dumbfounded in the scorched landscape. Any attempt to understand or engage appears pointless, without any trace of a solution or escape on the horizon: he ultimately appears at a dead-end, on an immobilized raft. He nevertheless refuses to be assimilated or to compromise. He opts to remain an Outsider to practices that go against his principles. In this allegorical series, Depollas skillfully alternates between public and private experiences, residing in spaces which may be natural or teeming with human creations and traces, between the historical and contemporary condition. At the same time, he underlines the importance of taking a stance against the typically adverse social and political conditions, and the importance of fighting to set one’s own course without considering the costs entailed or the potential obstacles.
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections