Portraits of youth
Georgia Metaxas’ IKONA Portraits have been selected to showcase the 60th anniversary of assisted Greek migration in Australia at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne
An exhibition by Greek Australian photographer Georgia Metaxas will mark the 60th anniversary of assisted Greek migration to Australia. The exhibition will reflect on the contribution of the more than 54,000 Greek-born people who call Australia home.
"This year marks the 60th anniversary of assisted Greek migration to Australia, although the first Greeks actually arrived during the 19th century," said Emily Kocaj, Manager of Community Exhibitions at the Immigration Museum.
"There were 12,000 Greeks in Australia in 1947. After World War II and during the civil war in Greece that followed, more than 160,000 migrated - mostly to Victoria - to establish a new life. The population of Melbourne is now one of the largest Greek settlements in the world outside of Greece."
The exhibition - that will be housed in the entry of the immigration museum - features seven images of young Greek Australians in a portrait shot similar to that of a passport image. Metaxas began taking these images as part of her IKONA exhibition in 1996.
"They are very big, bold and in your face," Metaxas told Neos Kosmos of the portraits.
"And they resonate with everyone; everyone's childhood; everyone's relationship to identity and photography - which plays an important role for all of us who travel as we all have a passport and a passport photograph to travel from A to B."
Metaxas' body of work for IKONA dates between 1996 and 2004, where as a young photographer she began documenting Greek traditional activities, from Greek Orthodox Easter to the Cyprus rally, community gatherings at Station Pier and various public events. She wanted a way to give a contemporary feel to the traditional rituals and juxtaposed the black and white images of the traditional documentary-type photography with these large colour bold portraits. To do this, Metaxas invited Greek students studying in Melbourne to pose for the portraits. She asked each student to pose as they would for a passport photo, without make-up and looking straight into the lens of the camera.
Since she embarked on this body of work, Metaxas has been fascinated by portraiture as a medium to express her photography.
"The IKONA portraits were the first portraits I ever took and ever since then I became very engrossed and all my work has been directed to portraiture," she says.
"Portraiture is something that fascinates me and something I will investigate in many years to come. There are many different layers that interest me and I love its relationship to photography and people fascinate me, I like talking to people and working with people so I think that's why they appear in my photographs."
The photographer has a long-standing relationship with the Immigration Museum having worked for them as a commercial photographer in the past, and was honoured to be selected to celebrate this auspicious occasion and revisit her IKONA Portraits.
"I think it's great for people to come into the museum and see these portraits and think about the long standing contribution the Greek community has made to Melbourne."
IKONA Portraits is on display in the atrium of the Immigration Museum until May 2013. The atrium is a free access area. Opening hours of the Immigration Museum are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. For more information visit http://museumvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum/
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