One Year on Kythera / Kristina Williamson
Exhibit opening, screening, & talk
Tuesday Nov 17, 2015, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Anna Van Lenten, Half King Photo Series curator
A decade ago, backed by a Fullbright grant, American photographer Kristina Williamson went to live on the Greek island of Kythera. Much like an anthropologist, she aimed to find out how emigration, modernization, and globalization were affecting Kytherians. (Back then, the Greek crisis as we know it now had not punctured ordinary lives.) Part of what inspired her was a statistic: Kythera’s population, 13,000 at the start of the 20th century, had fallen to about 3,100 by 2005. For various reasons, a slow-motion, reverse migration crisis had beset the island.
Over the course of her stay, Kristina evolved from stranger in a mythic land to neutral participant in lively village life, replete with small-town rivalries. She clarified the questions of her endeavor, among them: When entire villages are abandoned, how do the island's inhabitants absorb their past? and How does the local endure in the age of the global?
Boys contesting the cross in the sea; goats as brides; the birthplace of Aphrodite jutting up off the coast; two elderly women, backs to us, facing something we cannot access. Such is the mix of the eternal and momentary that Kristina’s pictures relay. Only by passing through the rituals and routines of the everyday could she make such images, in which enchantment and reality hang together. It took a year and a half of everydays to finish her solitary odyssey. She brought home a visual document of what stitches together Kythera’s communities—traditions that prevail, despite a foreboding future. She found that "the small towns of the world (like Kythera and my hometown in PA), those yet to be trampled by global brands or overrun by international capital, are more alike than we think."
~ Anna Van Lenten
KRISTINA WILLIAMSON is an American artist born in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania in 1980. She holds a BFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design in New York and was awarded a Fulbright grant to photograph life on the Greek island of Kythera. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions in Greece, New York, and Washington, D.C., as well as various group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. In 2014 she published her first monograph of photography entitled One Year on Kythera. Her work has also appeared in Parkett, Photo District News, VICE Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, among others. Williamson currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.