In a beautifully produced book, Greek photographer Yiorgos Kordakis captures the two sides of Mykonos, and the universal appeal of summer.
Yiorgos Kordakis loves to photograph in the summer. When I think of him, that very characteristic polaroid photo of him from a beach in Rhodes comes to mind – the one with the red and white umbrellas. It was part of the “Global Summer” project, which he implemented about ten years ago, capturing the relationship of different peoples with summer. Over the course of that project, he photographed summer moments from Santorini and Corfu to Hawaii and Deauville, wanting to note that, no matter how different the cultures are, summer is something “universal” and therefore common as a feeling.
So, to return to today, his latest photo album entitled “Mykonos Mediterranean Cycladic – Everlasting Summer” does not come as a surprise. Especially if we take into account the fact that Mykonos is a place he knows well and to which he always returns.
The brand new coffee table book, signed by the Greek photographer, is dedicated to the soul of the “Island of the Winds,” from its carefree, bohemian character to the utopia of the so-called “jet set” – two contradictions that compose its unique face.
Yiorgos Kordakis, a connoisseur of Mykonos, focused his interest on both poles, without rejecting one or the other, but looking through his lens for an aesthetic balance, which, by all accounts, he found.
“The idea was to lovingly record the two faces of the island as they are today, stopping time. Mykonos is the only island that has the quality of having on the one hand its traditional Cycladic side and on the other the international, cosmopolitan one, a fact that makes it one of the most special destinations in the world. As far as I’m concerned, I love to combine both sides in the same day,” he says.
He first visited Mykonos as a teenager, in the late 1980s. He talks to me about that feeling and how much it has changed over the years, without sharing the usual dissatisfaction of the Greek, who feels that tourism often “steals” something from the island.
“I remember arriving at the old port and feeling an atmosphere of fun, carefree and general joy that was unprecedented to me. At that time, Mykonos still retained much of its original identity. In the late 1990s, the foundations were laid for what it has become, and by the end of the ’00s, Greeks had left and foreigners appeared – en masse, even as home and business owners. Then the island began to change dramatically. Today it is in the years of overgrowth and luxury. It has gone through a course that has no return, with its pros and cons,” he says.
“Mykonos is now a station before or after Ibiza, Tulum and other similar destinations,” he adds.
I ask him how this complexity is reflected in his photos: “I think through the filter of a man who has been visiting it continuously for the last 30 years and has watched its entire evolution closely.”
As for the artistic approach: “I would not say that there was a conscious aesthetic identity. My wish was to see printed in the pages of the book what I choose to see when I am there. Two words that cover me in relation to my aesthetics as a photographer are distance and observation.”
Through the artistic filter of Yiorgos Kordakis’ personal relationship with Mykonos, this album is his photographic testimony to the emblematic Cycladic woman.
After careful exploration of every angle, light and color of the peculiar Mykonian universe, what connects it with the island took shape in 220 pages, which were artistically edited by Domnika Grigoriadis. Through an almost architectural approach, the graphic designer gave life to the book, which is released with three different covers: the yellow, purple or white fabric frames three different images. As for the delicate engraving and the distinctive typography, they highlight the feeling of a place that seems to live in its own space and time.
“Finally, what are we going to see in this book?” I ask him at the end. His answer is simple and mature: “The Mykonos I love”.
IN 200 WORDS
I LOVE TO HATE: The crazy crowds that carry their habits, without ever realizing and enjoying the uniqueness of the place.
FAVOURITE SPOTS: The few unorganized beaches.
HABIT: I really like watching people. It is an extremely diverse and contradictory patchwork of people.
BEST BEACH: Myrsini.
RESTAURANT AND BAR: Kiki’s tavern and Roots, not only for the wonderful food, but also for the whole experience. TSAF for appetizers, ouzo, and quiet. Alemagou and Scorpios for food and drink, but also for the music and the party atmosphere.
YOUR PERFECT DAY ON MYKONOS: Breakfast at Liberty before swimming at one of the few unorganized beaches. Depending on the weather, I will choose Agios Sostis, Mikri Lia or Myrsini, after first going through the bakery in Ano Mera for cheese pies and spinach pies. Later, sunset drink in Alemagou and much later in Scorpios. Another alternative is to go by boat to Delos or Rinia, where I will spend all day reading a book. Later, walk to Matogiannia for shopping, drinks and food.
To order Yiorgos Kordakis’s album “Mykonos Mediterranean Cycladic – Everlasting Summer,” visit ode-studio.com.
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.