My wish was to create a small collection of images of my aunts and my mother, purely for personal use. There was an urgent need to capture these figures, sensing that in the future, by examining them closely, I would rekindle in my memory cherished images associated with favourite flavours, objects, textiles and clothes, kitchen utensils and everything else that binds me to them.
As I scrutinised the photographs, I searched for an image that would encompass the absolute purity of their existence. Finally, I discovered it in photographs of young girls, a presence liberated of all the roles that we have learned to allocate: ‘my aunt’, ‘my mother’.
I travelled these images down a reverse chronological course, moving backwards in time. I strolled in reverse along the life of these beloved women. Starting from their contemporary images, I would end up, at times journeying backwards as far as three quarters of the century, viewing the modern history of Cyprus through the photographs of young girls, in order finally to come face to face with the absolute purity of an aunt’s or Mother’s childhood.
It seems to me that the essence of photography itself, as I perceive it, lies within these images. Under the influence of Roland Barthes and his reflections in Camera Lucida, I borrow his thoughts for a moment:
“If all the photographs in the world compose a labyrinth, the centre of this labyrinth would end up at these few photographs. For Nietzsche, a man who often loses himself in the labyrinth of his own thoughts is not ultimately looking for the truth but for his Ariadne.”
For me also, then, these photographs represent my own Ariadne. Not because they will help me discover the hidden secret, but because they will lead me to the thread that I shall follow in order to discover the essence of photography. I have decided that I must re-examine all the arguments and motives regarding photography. I have reached a new notion about the essence of photography, which I would call a relationship of love and death.
I thank Roland Barthes for showing the way.