Bonjour Ostende

Andrea Shkreli

2012 - 2013

Flanders, Belgium

Photography, historically, was an expedient means of observing and recording in the hands of those who shifted geographically. Andrea Shkreli had a twofold experience of the excitement and emarrassment of emigration: as a child from Albania, his first homeland, to Greece, and as an adult from his second home to Ostend. The photographs of the Bonjour Ostende collection were taken during the period 2012-13 when he settledin Belgium, and in part constitute a way of becoming familiar with his natural and social reality. At the same time, through the art of photography which he practices, they constitute a continuous thread of his earlier life.

Shkreli studies the pulse of the Belgian seaside town with emphasis on the beach’s summer conditions, there where people are usually revitalized and reveal themselves, where tourism mingles with slothful everydayness. His compositions, either snapshots or seemingly unihabited scenes, are forceful, with a careful manipulation of form beneficial to the look’s penetration. What does one discover through these? A public space in which things are presented at random, where more less distinct counterpoints evolve: social, religious, racial, where people can remain at a safe distance, even when they are crammed together, where rational order and precise organization ensure the smooth flow of facts and information, setting up a public space, not always in cohesion, in which visual fallacy sometimes impresses more than the pulsing life.

Shkreli’s photographs are part of the long tradition of 20th centry street photography that beset the metropolitan glow via the pictorial aspect of an inreasingly complex world moving faster and faster. In such a spirit Shkreli unfolds his small discoveries, coincidences and notional gaps, the points where the social seams stretch or are ripped, at the same time exploiting the pace and liveliness that colour often provides. In a photograph, perhaps unusually opportune, two Muslim woman are watching the activity on the beach from the distance imposed by bareness because of their dress code. The bars behind which their bodies are outlined reflect confinement, signifying limits invisible but existent.

Good morning, Ostend!

Hercules Papaioannou

Curator and Director

Thessaloniki Museum of Photography

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