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Visions, Decoded #08 - Emese Benko: On the edge of Western Civilization


copyright Emese Benko

(για ελληνικά πατήστε εδώ)

The photographic ‘voice’ of Emese Benko can be nothing else than anthropological. Having her former academic studies as a springboard, the photographer assumes to record the survival of a last but still going folk culture, as in the case of ‘Maramures’ project, or to add a fresh perspective to contemporary living conditions in the western world, deploying the example of Roma in diverse places throughout Romania. Through the eye of a sincere researcher, Benko has been sharing lavishly the knowledge that occurs in front of her eyes and lens: a bizarre game has been unfolding at the camp of Vanatori village. The typical geometry of the makeshift residence has been ruptured by the suspected motion - the stillness of the inanimate background would soon blend with an odd and improvised game of two Roma, of a little boy and of an older woman.


Color is not a necessity in front of the preeminence of bricolage: within this black and white color scale, the two Roma survive with everything they have and they use anything to signify a life that ought to be lived in dignity. The shoes look borrowed or retrieved from a past of regular use. The flag of Ferrari, the capitalist achievement of 20th century, turns into a curtain that conceals life, but probably not the bareness of its possessors. Besides, the little anonymous Roma pays no mind about the latter. Through this improvised play tag which Benko captures on the right moment, culture emerges, just like Huizinga would agree, allowing and overturning the schematic western stability in favor of a concurrent experience of it.

(browse Emese Benko's selected gallery)

Ursula-Helen Kassaveti

Ursula-Helen Kassaveti (photo by Vivi Kaparou) was born in Athens in 1980. She holds a B.A. in Literature (University of Athens, Athens School of Philosophy), a M.A. in Cultural Studies (University of Athens, Department of Communication and Mass Media) and a Ph.D. in Film, Genre Theory and Sociology at the same department. Her research interests revolve around Popular Culture (film/music), Visual Ethnography, and Cultural Studies. She has been a post-doc researcher at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she co-taught the undergraduate module “Social History of Mass Media” (2015) and is now a research fellow at University of Patras. She has made various announcements in international and Greek conferences and has published articles and a monography on film and media. She teaches “Discourse and Visual Analysis” and “Greek Film & Culture” at “Kostis Palamas” Longlife Education Program at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens.

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