Exploring the liquidity of Cyprus: Maria Hadjimichael talks with curator Evagoras Vanezis and artists Stelios Kallinikou and Korallia Stergides about the Cypriot participation in the Atlas of Mediterranean Liquidity.
Goethe Institut-Zypern 2023 (Eng,Gr,De,Tr)

The Disappearance of Things by Haris Pellapaisiotis 2022 (Eng)

Nymphaeaceae, interview for Phileleftheros newsparer 2019 (Gr)

Politics of the landscape, interview for Urbanautica by Georges Salameh, 2018 (Eng)

Studies in Geology, 2018, text by curator Kim Knoppers, Foam Museum, Amsterdam (Eng)

Over The Horizon, 2018 text : Dr. Yiannis Toumazis, Nimac, Nicosia (Eng)

Step firmly onto the earth, young man…2017. A reflection on Stelios Kallinikou’s photographs at Point Centre for Contemporary Art. Text: Haris Pellapaisiotis (Eng)

The Question Behind the Dream: Disrupting Cypriot Photography. Interview by Kiriakos Spyrou for Yatzer, 2016 (Eng)
Stelios Kallinikou. Calls and Songs
Text. Andrés Valtierra, 2024 

The proliferation of cameras—their reduction in size and our constant exposure to the innumerable images they produce—has made it seem as if the distance between the lens and the human eye has been reduced, almost eliminated. We constantly see through our screens, oftentimes forget to pause and look at whatever might be in front of us—objects, people, scenes—, for a quick snap has substituted our process of observation and analysis. We captured something, and this is enough because we can retrieve our images at a later date and look at them more carefully. Except that our encyclopaedia of potential perusal becomes noise for the large part, another vehicle for endless scrolling in which only a few frames will call our attention, random frames that do not depend on the nature of each image. The selection is contingent on the context in which we are—physically, mentally, and emotionally—, and on the visual grammar of our image libraries.

Being subject to this process, we often forget that many of the images we consume—and save—were not taken by us. Even if we are aware of this, we tend to look at them in similar terms: storing, forgetting, and making them seem passive. This happens almost automatically, for this has become a standard way of consuming visual information. In other words, even our critical thinking has been hijacked by such a dynamic, causing in each of us blind spots that precede our process of thought. These are not only the oversights we all have when reflecting on a certain subject; these are pieces of information that we have consumed without paying much attention, for we would later do so, yet they continue to grow inside us. No matter how prone we are to critical thinking (or theory), some other peoples’ views have passed before us and into us.

Stelios Kallinikou’s practice takes the archive as a starting point, yet his process of gathering, storing and revisiting images happens in very different terms. His work is the constant research of how we relate to images—physically, politically, emotionally, and intellectually—, of how they are taken, distributed, sometimes forgotten, and ultimately viewed. The sources of his images are manifold: some he takes on a quotidian basis, while for others he makes proper excursions, as a photographer working on field; there are some pictures he retrieves while browsing online, and yet others that he finds during more structured archival research. He usually pursues diverse lines of inquiry at the same time, which often intersect in diverse points. This allows him to make a cross-pollination between conceptual threads. It is common that exhibitions include works developed for previous shows, which are now re-contextualised and re-signified.

For his second solo show at eins gallery, Calls and Songs, Stelios Kallinikou presents a body of work that explores how human beings have registered and altered the environment through technologies, and how we relate to recording devices. Likewise, his artworks evince a high sensitivity towards the artist’s surroundings, one that could almost be described as poetic, if this word did not simplify the different levels in which Kallinikou works. Along with the lyricism of his depiction of bodies, animals, plants, or human constructions, Kallinikou takes a physical and ideological stance in relation to the lens and the image, which is then mirrored and expanded in his audiences’ acts of looking.

For each of his presentations, Kallinikou carefully selects the works he will include and decides their placement in the exhibition space. This almost creates an installation of a sort, except that the artworks always retain their independence. Kallinikou creates temporary constellations that play with our experience and the possible interpretations artworks may have. Upon entering Calls and Songs, one sees objects placed on the walls and floor. Yet the experience is not only retinal; there are sounds one hears and that are present all throughout our visit. A resonance of static fills the space, yet it is not necessarily steady. The sound changes subtly at first, then the last note becomes louder, perhaps even changes tone after a while. It might be difficult at first to untangle what produces this sound, and to what the variations respond. Eventually one realises it’s connected to the seashell lying on a mirror on the floor, with a microphone attached to its centre (Still Life, 2022). It amplifies what we have commonly learned to refer to as the sound of the sea trapped in a shell, and Kallinikou has set the work to react to the movement of people in the gallery. Simultaneously, a bird chirps and flaps its wings; occasionally, we hear a tapping sound. A screen shows a bird trying to fight its own reflection on a side-view mirror (Bird, 2022). Our initial experience of these works is through hearing, yet one needs to rely on a visual exploration in order to make sense of them. This is not to say that the eye is the organ that enables the comprehension of the works; rather, they exist in the connection between the image/object and one’s extended bodily experience. What is more, both works use recording technologies to, in the first case, map through sound the beings in a setting; in the second, to document how optical instruments have altered the environment, to a point that defies the comprehension and behaviour of other species. Both could be read as allegories of how other technologies are used as exercises of power on the global stage, and yet they continue to refer to particular situations and beings.

The images, however thin may be, are never flat in Kallinikou’s work—they always remain objects and are displayed through objects. A square monitor shows an anonymous eye that fills the complete screen (AMMATIN, 2023). Its constant movement is ambiguous: is it looking at an invisible image, perusing us, or nervously reacting to other stimuli? In this uncertainty, the eye feels oppressive, even threatening. But the video really shows “a scanpath recording of a participant freely looking at a picture,” according to wikipedia where the video was found. By turning our sight to the eye, rather than focusing on the absent image, the video emphasises the physiological mechanics of seeing, revealing how ambivalent the act of looking is in itself; how certain, minute gestures that could even feel threatening, when seen in a larger context—quotidian human interaction, really—, they become neutralised.

Stelios Kallinikou looks into the connections between the images he works with and diverse histories: of photography, of painting, of film, of a particular terrain he is working on, of how he got there, and of Cyprus’s political past and present. By taking a position in front of the technologies whereby we record the world, Kallinikou emphasises the distance between his body, the lens, the image, and that which is being recorded. By extension, this also shows the distances we retain, and which we often forget about. His work grants us a glimpse of the underlying implications of looking and recording the world, that is, of the contexts in which images are produced, circulated and consumed—many of which seem to hide away the more a picture circulates. It prompts us, in the end, to decide our position concerning what would prefer to stay unseen in all the images we encounter.