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Globe-trotting Greek Photographer in Athens Exhibition

Visitors at Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens.
Terra Incognita travel photography exhibition runs until Sunday, February 25, 2024 at Technopolis, Athens. Credit: Athanasios Maloukos

The free entry exhibition of awarded Greek travel photographer Athanasios Maloukos has entered its final week on show at Technopolis in Athens under the auspices of the Embassy of Mexico and the Consulate of the Ivory Coast.

The showcase, titled Terra Incognita, comprises over fifty ethnographic images from the photographer’s travels around the world spanning fifteen years. These chronicle customs, festivals, rituals, and the everyday life at faraway lands among some of the world’s most isolated populations.

Maloukos has been scooping up international photography awards since 2012 and was most recently awarded Travel Photographer of the Year 2023 at the homonymous international competition.

As he prepares for his next mission in the exotic Mozambique, he tells Greek Reporter about his personal journey as a photographer, moved by the comments he received from the show’s visitors.

From amateur to awarded photographer

Maloukos was intrigued by photography since his student years, trying to see through his lens what he saw around him “with a different perspective that captured life in a specific frame and focused the interest in a delimited setting.”

“Starting out as a simple photographer, it was impossible not to become interested in capturing human expressions at some point,” he adds. “So, the marriage of photography with my other interest, travel, occurred naturally.”

Over the course of time, he sharpened his photographer’s eye, but his travels also became more demanding. However, it was only when he was prompted by his friends that he decided to participate in a photography competition in 2009.

“The participation alone in a competition, and indeed an international one, is an unknown aspect of photographic knowledge, where you have to renounce your own personal or emotional connection to an image and be able to perceive how other people receive your creation, but without this becoming an end in itself,” the photographer explained.

Visitor looking at an image at the Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens.
When participating in competitions, photographers need to renounce their own personal or emotional connections to images so as to be able to perceive of their creations through the eyes of others. Credit: Athanasios Maloukos

Greek travel photographer’s international awards

Maloukos was eventually granted his first award in 2012, when he won first place at the International Photography Awards in the Travel Special category. He was among five finalists for the Discovery of the Year award.

He has since received numerous awards and gold medals in international photography competitions, such as the Best New Talent of the Year and Best Portrait Photographer of the Year at the Prix de la Photographie de Paris. His most recent recognition was the Travel Photographer of the Year 2023 award for his series on Siberia’s Shamanism.

“It is not often that the judging panel is surprised by images, but in 21 years we have never seen these Siberian shamans, here on the icy landscapes of Lake Baikal,” the competition’s jury commented. “These images have fantastic and intricate detail.”

Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens.
Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens. Credit: Athanasios Maloukos

A turning point in the photographer’s work

The Terra Incognita exhibition in Athens includes Maloukos’ most iconic shots from as far back as 2007, taking visitors on a colorful journey to spectacular, little known areas and events around the globe with the help of a digital QR catalog which tells the story of each image and its people.

Looking back at his evolution as a photographer, Maloukos tells Greek Reporter of an incident that caused his photographer’s eye to “completely change direction.”

“During a touristic trip to Peru, which coincided with the country’s national holiday, and while I was in a small village in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, there was the customary parade of small children dressed in traditional Quechua costumes,” he recalls.

“The mayor of the village invited me on stage, where the officials were standing, and then to a small celebration, to take photos. This was the first time that I felt I was becoming a local, and although the experience was very short, I [realized] the importance of being accepted into a community and participating in their daily or even festive activities. Since then my photographer’s eye has become more specialized and more human-centered,” Maloukos concludes.

This unique quality is strikingly reflected in the Terra Incognita showcase.

School pupils looking at an image at Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens.
School visit to Terra Incognita photo exhibition at Technopolis, Athens. Credit: Athanasios Maloukos

Among thousands of visitors who visited the show, including many Greek schools, Maloukos singles out one particular comment made by a young boy admiring a photograph of the Golden Temple of the Sikh, a spiritual space that welcomes people from all religions and doctrines.

“Right now, in this exhibition, I feel like I find myself in such a temple,” the student said in awe.

* Terra Incognita is at Technopolis, Athens until Sunday, February 25, 2024, 10am-10pm. Admission is free.

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