The Burqa Series, exhibit - Crypt Gallery, - London
This portraits collection focuses on the veil as a visual obstacle, a block. As a portrait photographer, Greg celebrates faces as visual representations of a person's identity. Greg focuses on the gender aspect, both because it's a tradition only applied to one gender and because the veil is able to conceal gender itself.
"I accumulated these portraits slowly and organically, researching and hand picked some of the models. I included some of my clients, asking them to try the veil on while during a professional headshots session. Some of the subjects in the Series are believers. and wear a veil in their everyday life. Some of them have no relation with their parents because they have stopped wearing it. Some are Christians, Buddhists, or Atheists, who simply wore it for a photo shoot. Some are men. If most people won't even recognize when they are looking at a male, how much identity is the veil blocking? The fact that it's only mandatory for a gender is the point. If men had to wear it too, it would be easier to recognize it as a tradition, a typicality."
A note on the veil and how some of the pictures were possible: the Quran has no expressed requirement for women to cover their faces, while the traditions of the life of Muhammed command modesty. Interpretations vary, but even some of the most conservative communities prescribe the veil is not compulsory in front of blind men and gay men, as they are non-valid.
Greg's fashion background influences the elaborate portraits and stylized shots for New York Fashion Week. His series includes photographs of Ms New York, Stephany Jill, and Manhattan's most glittery figure skaters.
Greg explores the theme concealed identity and constricted/entrapped beauty. The hair transforms into cages and shakles, to trap or enhance the beauty of the subject. The hair styling is by clever New York hair artist Michael Dionysiou who spent most of the Summer in New York working on the creation of a vast number of looks for these sophisticated portraits.
The installation takes place in the beautiful rooms of the Carlton Hotel in Manhattan. The dark wood paneling, solemn furniture, and the luxurious style of the rooms underline the glittery opulence of the photographs. The decadence in the portraits resonates in the rooms.
Moving between his fashion-obsessed neighborhood of Passy and the rough and diverse Place de Clichy, Greg pointed his camera at a number of second generation Parisian women with Middle-Eastern heritage.
The portrait series focuses on the friction between the cultural heritage, surviving through the centuries, and the contemporary, plastic-based lifestyle of modern Parisian women. The eye is on the space where women empowerment meets heritage and identity.
The bottle is transparent and the confinement is public. Inside and outside are only set apart by a thin, invisible layer. The genie in stuck in a plastic bottle.
Some of these women appropriate and embrace the bottle. It becomes part of their new and enriched identity. It's a new familiar, a new normal, a reassuring protection for the dangers outside. Some of these women feel trapped, surrounded by contemporary lifestyle and yet unable to take charge. Some of these women reject and destroy the bottle. They make it a confrontational, open struggle. They feel the need to start a new and independent definition of the self, free from the burden of a culture they donâ€™t recognize as theirs. Some of these women "recycle" the bottle into an element of fashion, a frill. They look at the camera and feel triumphant, beautiful and strong.
"The images are clean and strong. The technique and the control of the light is very consistent and gives a solid feeling to the collection. The clarity and the lightness contrasts with the darkness and the feeling of oppression that some of the women seem to show. The collection is varied and complete, direct yet complex. Greg's work for this portrait collection is impeccable. His photographic vision and his conceptual palette come together and reinforce each other in a refreshing and essential simplicity."
Greg explores his family history as influence on his identity. The work starts from a series of restored pictures from the late 50's, portraying Greg's father in the act of writing his first newspaper articles, adjusting to family life, becoming a self sufficient grown up. It's the very beginning of his long career as journalist, a job that will influenced his cultural, aesthetic and visual attitudes. And will ultimate influence Greg's too.
Beside the original photographs (taken by an older journalist supervising the inexperienced youth), Greg creates a collection of variations, including portraits of his father today, of his older brother and some self portraits. He proposes the image of his father as a reflection. He looks for his father's influence in himself and in his older brother. He finds the polarized differences of the sibling, projected in opposite ways but coming from the same source.
The series has many facets. On one side, the time passes and changes each youth into an a man. On the other the essence is preserved, recurring, universal. The men can't, or won't, escape it. The collection was first exhibited in Florence, in 2010, at the ArtUro Museum of Art.