Kostis Fokas is a photographer working between Athens and London. His work focuses on the interplay between youth culture and eroticism and widely reflects aspects of his inner self. While on stage, he uses his models as toys, giving them the freedom to interact and playfully participate in the photographic process.
By using and integrating various media and objects like cheap cameras, sex toys and masks, his objects are not necessarily stylized or staged; rather, he is photographing for the moment, capturing his subjects somewhere between reality and fantasy. Most of his subjects are covered up, hidden or nude, serving as provocative, playful and sometimes quirky. Through this process, he constantly redefines his identity and exposes himself via the subjects presented.
KB: Your work sometimes looks so much fun. How much of your final result is staged and how much is just play?
It’s a combination of both. I work a lot before the actual shooting, so it’s easier for me to enjoy the shoot. Of course most of the time the results are different than what I had imagined, and for me this is the most fun. When unexpected things happen.
It’s also very important for me to create a trusting relationship with the model. That’s why we spend time together before the shoot. To know each other better and feel comfortable. For me it’s important to get inspired by the person too.
On the other hand there are spontaneous shoots with my friends. We’ll be laying under the sun at the beach, and I’ll grab the camera and take a picture. These photos are usually my favorite ones. My experiential photos are my memories. Create moments, and capture them, keeping them alive forever.
My work for me it’s a kind of photo album, every picture is a memory for me.
KB: How did photography win you over? How did you develop this personal style of yours?
In some ways I believe that photography came to me when I was a teenager. It happened instinctively and from then till now I still trust my instincts above all. I believe the realness caught my interest at first. I remember spending all my money on magazines, every kind, from body builder magazines, to The Face, and I-d magazine. Through the magazines my aesthetic began to form. I think I started to develop my personal style when I began to analyze my own work, and realized that I had and have something to say through my work. It’s a really nice feeling when you realize that you can create something bigger, even when you start with something very small.
KB: How would you explain the significance of bodies, pose and motion in your art?
Our bodies are great gifts we all have. I can say that the body symbolizes deification, the absolute perfection.
All our emotions come through the body. Through my work I want to touch people’s emotions, how I would in real life with people around me.
The relationship we have with others and ourselves, and the human substance are very important to me. Also self-improvement and self-criticism.
Using mirrors is having a semantic role. Do we see ourselves or a distortion of reality? I ask myself how much I represent what I see. Why is it so important how I look outside? We are not just what we see in the mirror. We are more than that, and we are aware of this.
The relationship I have with the mirror is a very personal relationship, like everybody else. But I want to talk about that and share it too. I’m trying to accept myself, accept my disadvantages. I want people to identify with this. It’s a long and lonely road. So find yourself and accept yourself exactly as you are. But when you have someone you love in the mirror, then you never feel lonely.
KB: Would you ever consider shooting yourself more?
When I started working on my first project “I’m not malfunctioning, you are.” I used myself as a model a lot.
I believed that would be much more personal and complete. It helped me a lot to know myself better as an artist, to realize what I wanted to do with my creativity. It inspired my need to share what I have inside of me, and my feelings. It was a very lonely time in my life and I wanted my work to be very connected with my real life.
In the meantime things have started changing in my life, and in my work as well. And this is what I want to experience through my work. The changes in my life. Me growing as a person and an artist.
Through my photos, now I can see myself clearly, to analyze myself.