Thessaloniki PhotoΒiennale 2023: The art of photography - everywhere!

Thessaloniki PhotoΒiennale 2023: The art of photography - everywhere!

A photographic image captures the moment, documents the event, can kindle reflection and action, recalls and narrates stories from near and afar. With the consequences of the recent health crisis ever-present, with extreme weather phenomena demonstrating our responsibility towards our poorly protected planet, with wars, violence and turmoil engulfing so many parts of the world, the photographic image is always present, defying borders and distances, stimulating critical thinking, and revealing new, essential and brighter ways forward.
Consistent with its goal to be at the forefront of international debate on photography -alongside other forms of the visual arts- this year's edition of the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale reintroduces itself to the public, from 10 October 2023 until 11 February 2024, with a rich programme consisting of 25 exhibitions in 19 venues in Thessaloniki and Athens and the participation of more than 100 photographers and artists from 18 countries. This year's programme aspires to present the different aspects of the photographic medium – from photojournalism, documentary and historical photography to the latest mediums and techniques of image capturing –, as well as to empower and transform citizens and their societies. The historical and contemporary, group and solo exhibitions, featuring works by both emerging and established photographers, are complemented by parallel activities, educational programmes and guided tours, in a seminal artistic event taking place over the course of four months. 

The Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023 is organised by MOMus and curated and coordinated by MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography. The event is supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and a number of cultural institutions, venues and organisations from Thessaloniki and across the country.

In this year's edition, the main exhibition, titled "The Spectre of the People", is curated by internationally renowned British art historian, photographer and curator Julian Stallabrass. Staged in the spaces of MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography and MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts (20.10.2023-11.02.2024), the exhibition explores the different aspects of populism through photography and video. As the spectre of populism haunts the globe, artists have grappled with its myriad dimensions: how and if to represent ‘the people’ (should they be thought to exist), and how to represent democratic power, the nature of charismatic leaders, popular protest and insurgency. The media of the lens, woven tightly around the history of mass politics since their inception, have been a natural field for this artistic exploration, which is variously documentary, performative, satirical and conceptual.

The line-up of solo shows and the programme of this year’s PhotoBiennale sets off with an exhibition featuring works by two debuting photographers, who were selected following the organizers’ open call to the artistic community in the spring of 2023. Alexandra Riba ("Between Cities and Skies", Stereosis School of Photography (SSP), 10.10.2023-15.01.2024) captures the noise over the city in a unique photographic footprint, while Yiannis Zindrilis ("A Long Saturday", esp+ gallery / IEK ESP, 10.10.2023-15.01.2024) traces stillness and our difficulty in defining and coming to terms with our surroundings.

The cycle of historical exhibitions opens with a major project related to the history of the Dildilian family during and after the final decades of the Ottoman Empire, a history stretching from the Anatolian cities of Sebastia (Sivas), Merzifon, Samsun and their nearby communities, to Greece, France and the United States, while also intersecting with the history of Thessaloniki’s Anatolia College. In the exhibition "The Photographic Odyssey of the Dildilian family: from Anatolia to the West'' (Museum of Byzantine Culture, 11.10.2023-11.02.2024), items from the rich archives of the Dildilian family, alongside images and documents from Anatolia College Libraries & Archives, become the traces of a journey through space and time. Martin Barzilai's exhibition "Ghost Cemetery", hosted at the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki (17.10-10.12.2023), is also part of the same cycle. Photographs depicting the city and its inhabitants document the history of the lost, shattered and ransacked Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, its remnants in the city as well as a part of the history of the city’s Jewish Community. 

The "Kampos” of Chios and its periods of flourishing and decay are the protagonists in Stratis Vogiatzis' exhibition (Mount Athos Center, 12.10-18.11.2023), which echoes the spirit of the area, its interaction with animals and the landscape, and the mutual penetration between nature and culture in an increasingly intractable equation. The exhibition "Nikos Giakoumidis (1963-2022): a Short Retrospective on his Work" (Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, 12.10-30.11.2023) attempts to look back at the work of the late Greek photojournalist. Over a period of more than three decades, Giakoumidis covered seminal events that took place in Thessaloniki, in Greece and in the wider region. His iconic images bear witness to a turbulent era and have been a source of inspiration for later generations of photojournalists.

The programme of the PhotoBiennale 2023 continues in the venues of two Thessaloniki galleries. In the exhibition "The Eye Altering” (13.10-10.11.2023) Dimitris Mougos shares with us an album as well as an in situ photographic environment, capturing his shared experiences with lifelong friends, the atmosphere and objects left behind by audiences at concerts, the testimonies-narratives of the well-known rapper Lex, alongside pictures recording the process of printing a book. Vassilis Nebegleriotis introduces us to the Thessalian plain in the exhibition "Stories from the Plain" (Toss Gallery, 13.10-10.11.2023). His photographs bear witness to the profound changes that intensive agriculture brought to the region’s culture and to the prosperity and inequality that have coexisted there over the previous decades. Following the recent floods in the area that will inevitably redefine the landscape, his images also serve as tragic testimonies to a bygone era and landscape. 

This is the first edition of the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale that the event will also be present in Athens, with photography meeting sculpture at a museum dedicated to the latter - the MOMus-Museum Alex Mylona in Thissio. In the exhibition titled “Syzygy. Solid Light and Timeless Motion" by Apollon Glykas and Ilias Sipsas (13.10.2023-07.01.2024), time, images, materials, movement and light create a multidimensional visual environment, in which three-dimensional sculpture converses with two-dimensional photography, as the potential of both is creatively expanded.  

From 14.10.2023 until 07.04.2024, the MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection in Thessaloniki will present "Nudes" by Emmanuel Rudzitsky, aka Man Ray (1890-1976). The exhibition features 38 of the most representative photographs of nude models shot by the American artist known for his photographic work and involvement in the movements of Dadaism and Surrealism. The exhibition is part of the programme of the 58th Dimitria Festival and the photos presented are courtesy of MAN RAY 2015 TRUST / ADAGP - OSDEETE - 2023, image : Telimage, Paris.

The PhotoBiennale’s solo exhibitions continue at the Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki with the multimedia exhibition-installation "Losing Turquoise" (16.10.2023-11.02.2024), in which photographer/geologist Ioustini Drakoulakou deciphers the complex identity of this exceptional mineral. At the Institut Français de Thessalonique, from 16.10 to 19.11.2023, we are invited to discover "07:00 - 15:00" (the working hours of public services in Greece), through the personal experience and gaze of Michalis Patsouras. The exhibition is co-organized with the Photometria International Photography Festival. 

The concept and management of space and the familiar lie at the heart of Karolina Breguła's exhibition "Exercises in Losing Control" at Ypsilon (17.10-26.11.2023). The global phenomenon of gentrification is altering microclimates, neighbourhoods and human lives, while also changing our architectural, economic, social, historical and even working environments. Breguła examines and captures the sounds, sights, sensations and experience of losing one’s home and what the latter represents - as a living experience, a metaphor, but also as a psychological and broader social trauma.

Afghanistan and Athens’s Acharnon Street meet at the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023. The documentary exhibition of photojournalist Dimitris Messinis "Power and Suffering in Afghanistan: the Taliban regime 1996-2001", presented at the Ιslahane Cultural Venue – Former School of Arts and Crafts Hamidie, (18.10-08.12.2023) is a dissection based on three interconnected aspects of Afghan reality at the time: the battlefield, with Taliban fighters taking centre stage, the public institutions – the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, Kabul’s Hospital - and scenes from the street, from the everyday life of the civilian population. Similarly harsh but also vulnerable and colourful is the social documentation of the small neighbourhoods around Athens's Acharnon Street between 2012 and 2014 by Dimitris Rapakousis. His project "Acharnon Street", presented at the Pikap café (18.10-15.11.2023), features the residents of one of Athens’s oldest neighbourhoods as they coexist with marginalized people, typically migrants, hailing from all around the world. Rapakousis’ work thereby evokes the existing, though often invisible, domestic divisions drawn along the lines of race and social class. 

A wall painting by Polyklitos Reggos (1903-1984) that was removed from the now demolished Military Mess and is on permanent display at the Thessaloniki War Museum Branch, provides the context and starting point of a dialogue for Marta Bogdańska and her photographic series titled "Shifters'' (19.10-30.11.2023). The visual artist, photographer and documentary filmmaker explores the use of animals in wartime through a collection of photographs, articles and stories about animal fighters, spies, heroes and agents of courage and self-sacrifice from the late 19th century to the 1970s. 

The MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art will host six solo photographic exhibitions (19.10.2023-11.02.2024), as well as a group show featuring the work of photographers from Japan and an ambitious and captivating survey of the photo books published in Japan over the last 23 years.

"White Gold" by Amina Kadous is a reference both to cotton and to the beginning of a unique journey in the history of the textile trade and the national history of Egypt, Alexandria, and the local Greek community. In the exhibition "The Backyard (2018-2023)", Vicky Georgiou uses her images as the adhesive agent that glues together the various gaps - of memory, time and space – created when her family moved from Greece to faraway Australia.

In Martin Parr's series of photographs presented at the exhibition titled "Self-portraits", the portrait is seen as a reflection of the artist’s individual and social identity, as it converses with personal and collective memory. Emmanuel Angelicas returns to Thessaloniki’s PhotoBiennale and the same museum after 25 years, with his series "Marrickville / Silent Agreements". In his square images, the traditional coexists with the contemporary, as they both form part of daily life in the migrant community of Sydney’s Marrickville district. Vaggelis Tatsis also visits and documents the neighbourhood he grew up in, in his series "Still Neighborhood". His photographic gaze does not focus only on the residents and the area, but also on people’s characters, personalities and interactions, on the complex web of relationships that binds them together. 

Personal identity, in an extremely challenging and violent context, is sought and defended in Lina Geoushy’s project "Shame Less", which focuses on the stories of sexual harassment and violence perpetrated against Egyptian women in public and private spaces in Cairo. Geoushy's intention has been and remains to combat the stigma surrounding reports of sexual assault, give voice to female victims and, ultimately, lessen their shame.

In the group exhibition "Photographic Images and Matter: Japanese Prints of the 1970s", hosted at the same venue (19.10.2023-11.02.2024), fourteen Japanese photographers and artists introduce us to the printmaking and photographic techniques pioneered by Tetsuya Noda. The series of group exhibitions culminates with the show titled "Poetics, Materialities, Performances: Greek Photographic Books 2000-2023" (19.10.2023-11.02.2024) which features photobooks by a total of 47 photographers, inviting us to discover this special branch of photography. 


The Thessaloniki PhotoΒiennale 2023 exhibition programme in brief and in chronological order.


“Between Cities and Skies”

Alexandra Riba

Stereosis School of Photography (SSP)


Curated by: Kosmas Pavlidis, Yiannis Manolis

Collaboration: Stereosis School of Photography (SSP)

Support: Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece, MATAROA

“A Long Saturday”                   

Yiannis Zindrilis 

esp+ gallery / ΙΕΚ ESP


Collaboration: esp+ gallery / IEK ESP 

Support: Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece, MATAROA

The Photographic Odyssey of the Dildilian Family: From Anatolia to the West”

Museum of Byzantine Culture


Curated by: Armen Marsoobian, Ioannis Motsianos

Coproduction: Museum of Byzantine Culture, Anatolia College 

Support: Honorary Consulate of Armenia in Thessaloniki, Armenian Community of Thessaloniki


Stratis Vogiatzis

Mount Athos Center


Curated by: Yorgos Prinos, Stratis Vogiatzis

Collaboration: Mount Athos Center

“Nikos Yakoumidis (1963-2022): A Short Retrospective of his Work”         

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki 


Curated by: Alexandros Avramidis

Collaboration: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki 

Support: Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Cultural Foundation 

“Syzygy. Solid Light & Timeless Motion”

Apollon Glykas – Ilias Sipsas

MOMus-Museum Alex Mylona 


Curated by: Yannis Bolis                                             

Coproduction: MOMus-Museum Alex Mylona

“A Couple of Photos”

Dimitris Mougos

The Eye Altering 


Curated by: Eleni Giannakouli

Collaboration: The Eye Altering 

“Stories from the Plain”

Vassilis Nempegleriotis 

Toss Gallery                                   


Curated by: Hercules Papaioannou

Collaboration: Toss Gallery                                   

Man Ray: Nudes”                                                         

MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection 


Curated by: Maria Tsantsanoglou                                                   

Coproduction: MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection 

Support: 58th Dimitria Festival 

“Losing Turqoise”

Ioustini Drakoulakou


Collaboration: Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki                         

“07:00 – 15:00”

Michalis Patsouras 

Institut Français de Thessalonique  


Curated by: Panagiotis Pappas

Coproduction: Photometria International Photography Festival

Collaboration: Consulat Général de France à Thessalonique, Institut Français de Thessalonique  

“Ghost Cemetery”

Martin Barzilai

Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki


Coproduction: Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki, Heinrich Böll Foundation – Thessaloniki Office

“Exercises in Losing Control”

Karolina Bregula



Collaboration: Ypsilon

“Power and Suffering in Afghanistan: the Taliban Regime 1996-2001”

Dimitris Messinis

Ιslahane Cultural Venue – Former School of Arts and Crafts Hamidie


Exhibition design: Sissy Karadimitriou

Coproduction: Ιslahane Cultural Venue – Former School of Arts and Crafts Hamidie, Museum of Byzantine Culture 

“Acharnon Street”

Dimitris Rapakoussis

To Pikap


Collaboration: To Pikap


Marta Bogdańska

Thessaloniki War Museum Branch 


Curated by: Iro Katsaridou

Collaboration: Thessaloniki War Museum Branch 


MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art



“White Gold”

Amina Kadous

Curated by: Amina Kadous, Iro Katsaridou

“The Backyard (2018-2023)”

Vicky Georgiou         

Curated by: Stratos Kalafatis


Martin Parr                   

Curated by: Hercules Papaioannou

“Marrickville / Silent Agreements”

Emmanuel Angelicas               

Curated by: Hercules Papaioannou

“Still Neighborhood”

Vaggelis Tatsis               

Curated by: Yorgos Prinos, Vaggelis Tatsis

“Shame Less”

Lina Geoushy                                                                                             

Poetics, Materialities, Performances: Greek Photographic Books 2000-2023”

Costis Antoniadis, Alexandros Avramidis, Manolis Baboussis, Ilias Bourgiotis, Dimitra Dede, John Demos, Nikos Economopoulos, Petros Efstathiadis, Pavlos Fysakis, Aikaterini Gegisian, Alexandros Georgiou, Aris Georgiou, Haris Kakarouhas, Stratos Kalafatis, Katerina Kaloudi, Alexandros Katsis, Demetris Koilalous, Panos Kokkinias, Yannis Kontos, Maria Louka, Natassa Markidou, Nikos Markou, Despina Meimaroglou, Persephone Michou, Katerina Moschou, Lia Nalbantidou, Effie Paleologou, Nikos Panayotopoulos, Yiannis Pantelidis, Roula Patra, Avraam Pavlidis, Paris Petridis, Penelope Petsini, Nikos Pilos, Platon Rivellis, Andreas Schοinas, Panagiotis Sotiropoulos, Spyros Staveris, Yiannis Theodoropoulos, Marinos Tsagkarakis, Dimitris Tsoumplekas, Eirini Vourloumis, Tassos Vrettos, Yorgos Yatromanolakis, Yiorgis Yerolymbos, Zak / Zackie Oh, Lily Zoumpouli

MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art


Curated by: Alexandra Moschovi 

Assistant Curator: Maria Kechagioglou

Coproduction: MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections 

“Photographic Images and Matter: Japanese Prints of the 1970s”

Koji Enokura, Sakumi Hagiwara, Arinori Ichihara, Shoichi Ida, Mitsuo Kano, Tatsuo Kawaguchi Hideki Kimura, Kosuke Kimura, Akira Matsumoto, Tetsuya Noda, Satoshi Saito, Jiro Takamatsu, Lee Ufan, Katsuro Yoshida

MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art


Curated by: Kyoji Takizawa

Coproduction: MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections, Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Greece


Main exhibition 

“The Spectre of the People”

Bani Abidi, Craig Ames, The Archive of Public Protests (A-P-P), Kimberly dela Cruz,, Ana Carolina Fernandes, Joan Fontcuberta and Pilar Rosado, Lauren Greenfield, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá, Kostas Kapsianis, Uta Kögelsberger, Christian Lutz, MacDonaldStrand, Daniel Mayrit, Dimitris Michalakis, Boris Mikhailov, Rafal Milach, Sinna Nasseri, Paolo Pellegrin, Wolfgang Scheppe, Prarthna Singh, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Vangelis Vlahos, Dougie Wallace, Carey Young

MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography 

MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts 


Curated by: Julian Stallabrass

Coproduction: MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts 

Support: Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki, British Council, Heinrich Böll Foundation - Thessaloniki Office

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