When Thodoris Tzalavras' postcard, Fall, arrived three seasons ago, I was immediately smitten. Tzalavras lives in Cyprus and the novelty of sending a postcard to that exotic location had not yet worn off. This was the first time I had received one from him that showed what life was like in the Mediterranean. Its presence on my refrigerator helped ease the hard winter months of endless cold and snow.
Fall is reminiscent of Elijah Gowin's series, Falling and Floating, yet this jump is not fabricated. The sepia toned colors resemble an antique photograph but the crisp, mid air suspension would never be caught on slower shutter speeds in the early days of the medium. Still wondering about this image eight months later, I emailed Tzalavras and he agreed to answer some questions about this mysterious postcard that inhabited the bottom right corner of my freezer door.
Jacinda Russell: Your Fall 2012 submission was highlighted prominently on my refrigerator for months. Knowing that you live in Cyprus and that the photograph was taken in Santorini, adds to its appeal. Many of the pieces you submitted for the Postcard Collective deal with the landscape and have a very specific sense of place. Can you talk about its importance in your work?
Thodoris Tzalavras: I think most types of photography are informed to some degree by a sense of place. I think my work is really more an investigation of the sense of time rather—on some level I do feel compelled to explore what's around me which is what lead to the creation of Nicosia in Dark and White (my first book) which focuses on a very specific aspect of the city I live in. But I think in general I'm more interested in explaining our relation and perception to time.
JR: On your blog, In Search of Lost Pictures , you call your experiences in Santorini "magical." I am drawn to Fall because of the exoticism of place and the carefree nature of the activity that screams summer. It is magical because it offers me, a viewer on the other side of the world, a form of escape. I didn't know I longed for this place until I saw your photograph. Tell me about the origin of this image and why it was chosen for the Collective.
TT: Last summer me and Ioanna were in Santorini minding Atlantis Books for three weeks and we spent our free time either on the terrace of the shop enjoying the view or exploring some of the nearby places around Oia. One of the spots we loved the most was this rock islet that appears in the "Fall" postcard--there the sea is extremely deep with amazing hues of blue. That choice had to do with the collaborative process. I chose some pictures that I felt were relevant to the theme and gave them to Ioanna and she wrote some stories and we chose the one that fit best.
JR: How has your interest in making books informed the work you make for the Postcard Collective and for your own photographs?
TT: The main thing that has shifted in my perception in new works I produce is that it made my work more project-oriented, in the sense that while I'm in the creative part (collecting and making pictures, doing the work) I'm simultaneously thinking about how the book will look like , or the exhibition.
JR: Your "Story Postcards" are a collaboration with the writer Ioanna Mavrou. What is your process? Do you take the photographs for the text, does she write the story after she sees the image, or is it a combination of both?
TT: Me and Ioanna constantly collaborate on projects and even though we had thought about making postcards before my participation in the Postcard Collective we didn't think about Story Postcards until the "Fall" theme came up. So the process became a combination of both. For the first Postcard Story Ioanna wrote a short story based on the image. For the second I chose an image based on a story she wrote.
JR: It appears as if you are continuing a similar style with the postcard that followed Fall [Requiem is depicted to the right in the photograph above]: sepia tones, one word title, the use of Ioanna's text. Can we expect to see more cards like this in the future?