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Greek photographer Pavlos Lazos, is deeply connected to his homeland island of Sifnos, the land of his childhood summers. He was always perplexed by the stark contradiction of being surrounded by water and yet, due to draught, never have enough for household use. The issue of water management in the Cycladic islands has often been in the spotlight. The excessive construction and the unlimited, unbounded influx of tourists create a stifling environment.
Lazos’ connection to the place urges him to turn towards the particular landscapes that enchant him, not just on a formal basis as elements capable of composing a well-made photographic image but also empirically, as parts of a familiar environment. In his first photobook, dubbed Phantom Water, for more than 4 years he returns to the same locations looking for the suitable light conditions, the ideal shooting angle, the right colour of the sky. In many of the pictures natural landscape prevails, scattered with the -more or less- obvious signs of the presence or rather the absence of water. His attention is drawn by details that the casual visitor would not observe. He does not seek to immortalize the stereotypical or the obvious but the visually uninteresting, the unknown, “un-official” landscape. This idiosyncratic approach is matched by an equally unorthodox sequencing of the images in the book, thus building a personal and highly subjective narrative. The earthly tones of ochre, brown and umbra prevail. On the contrary, white, an inextricable element of the tourist iconography of the Cyclades, is absent, appearing only sporadically in a few pictures. In his images, Lazos chooses neither to describe the social repercussions of the problem of water nor to make it aesthetically pleasing with impressive compositions and aerial views. Photographing in a fragmented way, concentrating on the details, omitting captions, he composes a subjective, imagined story.