From Hand to Mouth by Klavdia Balampanidou
Klavdia Balampanidou talks to us about her intimate photographic series on self reflection; using photography as a tool to overcome and bring to light the affliction of mental illness.
Tell us more about yourself and your practice.
I was born in a small village of Georgia by Greek parents, and grow up in Nicosia, Cyprus where am currently based.. At high school I discovered my love for images and until now, this love remains in my life.
What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?
All my projects are mainly autobiographical, about my fears, my mental health, my origins, or my memories. I’m always trying to channel my personal emotions into my work. I think art must be honest and to be used as a creative medium by artists, with the aim to express and understand themselves.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
I get inspired by art in general such as painting, photography, sculpture and films. One of my favorite work by an artist is Picasso’s Woman Ironing, cause I love the melancholic atmosphere it has. Another favorite artist is Louise Bourgeois. I admire the way she transformed her traumatic psychological experiences into a personal visual world with the sense of fragility and loss. Some of my favourite’s photographers are Maxime Ballesteros, Ren Hang, Wolfgang Tillmans and Marton Perlaki.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
I enjoy many different movements such as conceptual art and documentary photography.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
Photography for me acts as a tool for self-exploration and gives me the opportunity to learn my own fears, barriers and pleasures.
From Hand to Mouth is a photographic series centred around an intimate performance illustrating and exploring issues like anxiety, depression, fragility and instability as you’ve said in your own words. How did this series come about initially? What triggered this photographic reaction to personal difficulties in your own life?
The whole project started because I desperately felt the need to express myself. At that period, I was under a lot of pressure and full of tension, I had doubts about myself and my practice, and all the time I was overthinking everything and ending up totally exhausted, but at the same time I needed to “do something”. As I said before, photography is my main way to express myself and I wanted to define my own perspective, express my feelings and somehow to reconnect with myself with the aim to overcome the anxiety and the depression. In the development process I had the contribution of my friends who they posed for my and helped me to create a personal universe, a vision of fragility, tension and contradictions where very often I recognized in myself during that time. And thanks to that process, I felt a lot better, but at the end it wasn’t the answer to my problem. The answer comes from the title. The hand stands for the choice. I mean, it’s your choice to help yourself. You can “feed yourself” with fears or you can choose to be strong and to deal with them step by step. At this moment I’m not working on that project, maybe because I’m not feeling tension any more.
Any words for aspiring artists?
Keep shooting and go to museums.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
Yes, I’m working on my first self-published book. It’s about my birthplace and my birth name, and how these two elements define my identity.