From Hand to Mouth
+June 17, 2020
Nicosia, Cyprus photographer Klavdia Balampanidou (@klavdia_balampanidou)photographs herself for her series From Hand to Mouth. The title of the series is a reference to the 1967 wax sculpture by Bruce Nauman. Nauman’s sculpture is that of a right arm made from wax and cloth, designed to be hung on a wall. It’s a delicate piece that can easily be deformed. Klavdia started From Hand to Mouth as a source of catharsis during a turbulent time. It was an investigation of an internal turmoil, created with the intent to try and regain intimacy with herself. Throughout the series she explores themes of mental health, fragility and feelings of instability. Objects are used alongside bodies to create a dialogue that visually explores this inner conflict, its causes and its effects. Klavdia shows us images that make the viewer wince as they feel the tension and even pain.
Aside from sharing a title, Nauman’s sculpture is relevant to Klavdia’s work in that the expression living from hand to mouth is to barely be getting by. The emotions conveyed by the work show a woman struggling to get by. Much like its name sake piece, Klavdia’s images investigate the ugly, uncomfortable moments. The viewer gets the sense that the subject is in a sensitive place and can easily and figuratively be deformed. One image in particular is composed to be similar to the way Nauman’s sculpture is shown in a gallery setting. A single rose taped to a wall. However, the full rose is not intact. The lower stem and a leaf have been separated from the flower. Comparable to the delicate piece created by Nauman while also expressing Klavdia’s own message. A delicate flower separated into pieces.
Color, objects, and lighting are used to express a dialogue that engage the viewers discomfort. The series is photographed indoors using direct hard lighting. Shades of black and white, skin, and the color red work together to shout at the audience. An example would be the image where Klavdia has herself wrapped up in a black and white fur coat. She is hiding her face behind a black and white dog, as if burying herself in something that is both comforting and conflicting. Another powerful image is the bleeding fingernail. The harsh shadows, bright light on the skin tone, and the bright shocking red of blood feels painful and uneasy to the viewer.
Klavdia received her MA from Cyprus University of Technology. In 2018 she was awarded the Young Greek Photographer award at the Hellenic Center of Photography. Her work has been exhibited throughout Greece and the UK.