Critical Mass Top 50, 2013

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Stella Johnson

www.stellajohnson.com


Roula! Mytilene, Greece 2007

Engagement Party. Crete, Greece 2013

Michaela. Mytilene, Greece 2013

Vagelis. Crete, Greece 2013

The Laundry. Crete, Greece 2008

Bottles. Crete, Greece 2012

Grandmother of the Groom. Crete, Greece 2012

Cheesemaker. Crete, Greece 2012

Mixalos. Crete, Greece 2011

Wedding Celebration. Crete, Greece 2012
Stella Johnson

I photograph to counteract erosion of self. When our grandparents emigrated from Greece, we became hyphens between Greek culture and American, adding and subtracting American-ness and Greek-ness ad infinitum. This failed attempt at fine-tuning is an enigmatic game in which an individual rarely actualizes “selfness.” After years of investigating by camera the back roads of Mexico, Nicaragua, and Cameroon, I arrived at my grandmother’s birthplace, an island in the north of Greece near Turkey. My father’s recent death brought clarity to this particular investigation - it became clear that my romantic attachment to the “realness” of my grandparents’ existence in a rural, isolated village expressed a need. I embraced the qualities of their village culture circa 1910, as the antidote I sought to life in an urbanized North American town. Every year I travelled to remote places without electricity or running water, which replicated my grandparents’ quality of life in their country of origin. I lived with families in those remote villages. I recorded the negotiations and interactions of individuals surviving with little or no margin or resources. Until then I had not connected my pattern of working, nor the compulsion for doing it, to Greece and family. My work is the product of seeking out people and being with them. For me, photographing in Greece is the means to neither add nor subtract; the sense of place and sense of self become more reconciled.