Theodora Patkos

Theodora Patkos

Fine art photography

by Theodora Patkos (Austria)

When night falls, the city’s mask falls. Like a torch in the dark. The curiosity of what happens then is what drives me to search more, looking for those infinite moments, the infinite possiblities. I studied photography at NYFA, New York City in 2012. These images took place in that time. I am now situation in Vienna, Austria.

Portfolio from the Fine Art Photography workshop with Roger Ballen, September 2013.

Written review by ANDREAS J. HIRSCH,
Independent curator, writer and photographer

To dive into the night with a camera and an open mind is not without risks. When night falls, fears deeply rooted in the human brain set to work. Although the modern city is electrically lit, numerous shady areas remain that make it interesting. Where fears might be triggered at the same time a certain thrill can be found.

Theodora Patkos is clearly fascinated by the ambiguous nature of scenes encountered in nocturnal photography. Her set of nine photographs – as well as further photographs in her online portfolio – are witness to this fascination and such fascination seems a good and strong driver for the choice of subject for a photographic series in a workshop situation like this.

The series is not only held together by the nocturnal observations, but also seems to follow a certain narrative sequence – getting deeper and deeper into the later hours of the night, from late work at a construction site to people on what may be their ways home to the more aimless walks and ambiguous findings of the smaller hours. And still – all of those assumptions might be a valid reading and at the same time completely miss the point. Certainly a quality of Theodora Patkos' photographs is allowing for such interpretation and doubt at the same time. An insecurity quite befitting the subject.

What may be a narrative arc holding together the nine photographs can also be read as a gradual shift in the prevailing mood of the night. One way to connect this perceived shift with the actual photography done here is the aspect of distance and closeness. The photographer and with her the spectator are getting more and more intitmate with the subjects witnessed. – Under this acpect I would probably have set image number 7 after image 3 and number 4 before 8, but this may well be a matter of taste. In such sequencing the shift from groups of people to pairs to single figures would seem a little clearer. In any case ending with the dog (or is it a wolfe?) is a choice that I deem a very good one. The city at night finally belonging to the wild animals returning to the city after dark is more than a strong metaphour, it is also a reality of today's city life at night.

The use of compositions that rely strongly on a vertical structuring of the frame that is confronted with horizontal movement and dynamic is another binding element of the majority of photographs in the series. Trees in the foregroud, walls of a building or reflecting surfaces do the job and their role in the compositions is worth taking note of since they also structure how distance and closeness are modulated. Photographs 1, 3 and 7 form a more static sub-group and they create tableaus triggering also a slightly different mood. Consequently I would have set them together to make them stronger and better readable in context. It may be a matter of taste, but I would also have recommended to decide for either landscape or portrait orientation of the frame, with my choice for this series being landscape. It would have made the series more consistent not only formally but in terms of the moods and their development across the sequence of photographs.

The psychological side of the series, the inner map of the nocturnal city sketched here is of course the most interesting aspect of the photographs presented here. It goes well beyond the question of moods, while moods may be the first thing about them noticed. I see it as a clear quality of those photographs that Theodora Patkos refrained from the more obvious and especially the more spectacular scenes the night offers and looked deeper into the subtler emotional fabric of night in the city.

As the portfolio of Charlotte Wanderlust a.k.a. Theodora Patkos indicates, the exploration of the nocturnal "landscape of the soul" is part of a broader and more longterm work that is clearly to be encouraged. Theodora Patkos does not need reviews like this one to tell her that here she has found a subject well suited for her and worth following up on. But she might wish to know that there clearly is more than mere potential in her photographs, but that there is still also additional potential allowing for looking closer and deeper into the psychological side of what she can create with her camera. Theodora, drill deeper! Use your talent for composition more strategically and consciously as a container for the emotions to be conveied. Trust your sensorium for the subtle shift in moods while being formally more strict. A more rigid editing process would help bring forward the inner qualities of your photographs. It might allow for increased consistency and an even stronger impact of your pictures.

Carry on into the night!

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