Maria and Neoptolemos
by Neoptolemos Michaelides
Photographed by Hélène Binet
Parallel readings by Petros Phokaides and pick nick
Opening: Friday, 5 December 2014, 7:00 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, 6 December 2014, 11:00 am
Exhibition Duration: 5 .12.2014 - 31.01.2015
Special thanks to Maria and Neoptolemos Michaelides Foundation
Point Centre for Contemporary Art presents an exhibition featuring photos of Maria and Neoptolemos Michaelides’ residence by the renowned architectural photographer Hélène Binet. Point commissioned Binet to come to Cyprus and photograph the house which was designed by Neoptolemos Michaelides and was constructed in the mid-sixties.
The exhibition places the focus upon the outstanding work of Neoptolemos Michaelides, one of the key figures of architectural modernism in Cyprus, and simultaneously opens the discourse around it at an international level. Through the lens of Binet the interior and exterior of the house that the architect and his artist wife resided, is being reduced to the qualities and core values that characterised Michaelides’ working idiosyncrasy; nothing excessive, clear forms, simple but not simplistic, local traditional structural elements and materials in dialogue with modern elements and tendencies. Before setting up her heavy analogue cameras and beginning to structure her images, Binet spent time in and around the house, engaging in an intimate experience of the building following a ritual-like procedure. Her frames emphasise the strong concept behind the residential building and highlight the qualities represented on its structural elements. Binet (re)introduces us to the world of the architect with images that trigger thinking processes and dreams and invites us to reflect on the essence of things, a process that defined Michaelides’ working and living philosophy.
Binet, who is internationally acknowledged as one of the world’s leading architectural photographers, established her own personal style in this field during the past twenty-five years. She has developed a unique way of looking at buildings, penetrating to their core, capturing the values and truths that they encapsulate and exposing them in her photographs. The underlying theme in her work is the interplay of light, shadow and texture of materials and architectural elements. She has an extraordinary ability to orchestrate these three elements and reveal the buildings’ power. By choosing to focus on certain details, elements or lines and to position them together in her frames, she initiates a dialogue between them. Thus, her work goes beyond documentation and is best described as a compositional process that brings forward essential connections and associations. Her images present us with an experience of the building instead of a view and at the same time they reveal the architect’s vision, which is often juxtaposed or distorted by the lived reality.
Point will host a series of exhibition-related initiatives:
Petros Phokaides highlights architectural discourses imprinted in magazines and books found in Neoptolemos Michaelides’ abandoned architectural office at 39 Perikleous Street, in Nicosia; and initiates exchanges with historians and theorists of architecture in order to formulate critical perspectives crossing Michaelides’ work and the post-war architectural culture.
pick nick became intrigued with the prospect of meeting and talking with Maro Yiakoumi, a former architectural designer working with Neoptolemos Michaelides. Crucial in the realisation of the architect's oeuvre, pick nick was fascinated by the idea of 'following' in short time the narrative as retold by this woman, decades after her lifetime experience.
Hélène Binet (1959) was born in Switzerland and she currently lives and works in London. She studied photography at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome, where she grew up, and soon developed an interest in architectural photography. Over a period of twenty-five years Hélène Binet has photographed both contemporary and historical architecture. Her list of clients includes architects Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Studio Mumbai, Peter Zumthor and many others. While following the work of contemporary architects – often from construction through completion – Hélène Binet has also photographed the works of past architects as Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Sverre Fehn, Sigurd Lewerentz, Andrea Palladio and Dimitris Pikionis. More recently, Hélène Binet has started to direct her attention to landscape photography, wherein she transposes key concerns of her architectural photography. Binet’s work has been published in a wide range of books, and is shown in both national and international exhibitions. She is an advocate of analogue photography and therefore she exclusively works with film. Hélène Binet was selected to receive the Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award for 2015. http://www.helenebinet.com/
Neoptolemos Michaelides (1920 -1992) was born in Nicosia Cyprus and he is celebrated as one of the most important representatives of modern architecture in Cyprus. He began his studies in Milan, in 1940, under great architects like Gio Ponti and Bruno Zevi but when WWII broke out he returned to his homeland. After the war ended he went back to Milan and completed his studies. In 1952 he came to live in Cyprus. Michaelides developed a strong personal style through his work. He was a meticulous researcher and enthusiast for local traditional architecture but at the same time an advocate of the modern movement. He had a unique ability to combine, in a very sophisticated and balanced way, traditional and modern elements and materials like light, water, wood, stone, iron, glass and concrete. His work is characterised by use of simple and pure forms, absence of historical reference or decorative elements, architectural coherence and bioclimatic design. He was the founder (1979) and first president of the Pancyprian Organization of Architectural Heritage and a pioneer for the preservation of many urban and rural examples of traditional architecture in Cyprus.
Petros Phokaides is an architect and a researcher at Mesarch Lab, University of Cyprus, and he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in Greece. He has performed extensive archival research in Cyprus, Greece and United Kingdom on the history of inter- and post-war modern architecture. He has co-curated the installation Treasured Microcosms (Treasure Island exhibition, Nicosia, 2014) and the event Critial Arhaeologies (Suspended Spaces research program, Nicosia, 2011). His historical and theoretical investigations on modern and contemporary architecture have been published in Docomomo Journal, Journal of Architecture, MIT Thresholds, MONU Magazine and A10.
pick nick is an independent art and research collective, based in Cyprus and initiated by Maria Petrides (independent writer & editor), Panayiotis Michael (visual artist), and Alkis Hadjiandreou (visual artist & architect). pick nick draws from everyday routines, sites and infrastructures in an effort to zoom into moments noticing vulnerabilities, paused potentials, hidden details, and intimate silences in order to work with and around these conditions. http://www.picknickworks.org/
Tuesday to Friday: 11:00 -18:00
*the exhibition can also be viewed by appointment outside opening hours