Critical analysis of the findings of the task force

· History

As our readers will recall, after the one-day forum on photography organized last October by the Ministry of Culture, a program was made for the appointment of a committee, or task force as it was called, which would process the various views put forward during the forum and would then propose to the minister, Mr. Mikroutsikos, the ensuing National Policy for art photography. This force was made up of a large number of members, all of whom, however, shared a similar outlook (because, as was maintained behind the scenes, this would ensure that it functioned unhampered). They completed their findings in July and published them in a 205-page tome. I will attempt to describe and comment on the proposed regulations, searching for the negative (or darker) points, since it is only thus that improvements can be made. The positive side, that the Government, either as the Greek State or through the European Union, has decided to provide photography with both moral and financial support, has already been repeatedly both puffed and lauded. It cannot be denied that an equally positive element is that the majority of the members of the task force are closely connected with photography and knowledgeable about it. Ideally, of course, the members of such a committee would not be contending for any of the offices that they are themselves instituting, but this would be a luxury that our small photographic community could not endure. Moreover, manifest ambitions and favours are preferable to backstage ones.

· General Remarks

The first comment, referring to the entirety of the regulations, is that in their basic outline the findings of the report are exactly parallel to the concluding opinions expressed by Mr. Stathatos at the October forum. On that occasion, amid general surprise, he announced that, after concurring with the authorities on art photography and the ministry representative, he arrived at a schema, which he went on to describe, and which almost in its entirety constitutes the body of the findings arrived at by the task force. This confirmed the impression I had that the forum was nothing more than a charade to cover up the measures that had more or less been pre-determined in narrower circles. My participation in the forum makes this realization all the more painful.

The second comment has to do with the general impression made by the tone of the aforementioned findings. The text is more reminiscent of a politico-economic manifesto with an old party-political attitude than a text about art. It is characterised by a plethora of words, generalized vows and exhortations, asphyxiating organizational outlines, strangulating state control and an intensely didactic tone. On the latter count one might add that if it is intended for the ignorant then it is insufficient to educate and if it is intended for the informed then it is entirely unnecessary.

· Institutions

As to the basic regulations, the committee suggests a web of organizations or institutions, as they call them, that will deal with photography and will be sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. The first phase is the Photography Department of the Ministry of Culture (with its superintendent, assistant-superintendent and consultant committee). The second is a National Photographic Centre (a private organization, with its Board of Directors made up of a director, a deputy director, assistant-directors and an advisory committee). The third is the Thessaloniki Photographic Happening (a private organization, with a director, deputy director, assistant-directors and an artistic committee). The fourth is the Skopelos Photographic Centre (with a Board of Directors consisting of a director, a deputy director, assistant-directors and councillors). Who would have thought that once hapless photography would now have four decision-making centres to govern its fate, with so many paid employees and advisors? The findings anticipate about 40 of these (not including the civil servants of the Photography Department and the lower employees of the private organizations). It also anticipates the credentials that they must hold, reaching the bureaucratic extreme of demanding that they have a driver’s licence, with the exception of the employees of the Skopelos Centre (possibly because on an island they can get about on foot). Another peculiar detail is that while no formal credentials are required of the director of the National Centre and the Happening, they are required of the deputy director, and they are also very specific and very high.

It is also strange that (with the exception of Skopelos which was hacked) all the institutions will pursue the same ends. The only differentiation that the compiler of the text (as the one who clearly speaks for all the members of the group) attempts is between the jurisdictions of the Photography Department and the National Photographic Centre. The latter will deal with long-term planning, while the former will deal with current or yearly planning. I cannot understand why these activities cannot fall under the jurisdiction of a single organisation.

The Photographic Happening, which also becomes an institution, instead of being limited to its expertise as a festival, becomes yet another Photographic Centre, since, according to the findings, its aims cover the whole gamma of photographic activities. I am not even sure how happy Mr. Georgiou will be to have his ‘intellectual off-spring’ institutionalised, since he administered it so effectively himself. This is something that he actually notes in Appendix 3 of the findings, which he signs, and where he characterises the Happening as a ‘steadily and dynamically governed organisation’.

Things are a little different with regard to the Skopelos Photographic Centre. Its downgrading is rather obvious in relation to the initial ambitious pronouncements. This, moreover, was something that was quite apparent from the opposition to it expressed at the October one-day forum by those that were later to make up the task force. As Mr. Stathatos had prophesied, Skopelos is limited to an exhibition alternating every two years (one year Greek and one International). The inconstant provision that entrusts it with a connection to higher education when it is in effect far from any institution of higher learning is rendered ironic and does not further add any significant jurisdiction.

· Ministerial Control

The subject of control generally concerns all four institutions, since it ensues that they will run under the complete and unrestricted authority of the Ministry of Culture. Though the Ministry in its present formation may well perform this task satisfactorily, there is no guarantee that future administrations will do equally well. Moreover, the degree of democracy of the regulations (the constitution, the laws, the ministerial decisions) is conversely proportionate to the power that they foresee for the public bodies. The broader it is in arbitrariness and lack of control, the more dangerous it can become in the hands of an unsuitable representative. This happens a lot more often than we fear. The Photography Department of the Ministry of Culture will obviously be under the complete control of the Minister, and the advisory committee that is proposed, beyond the fact that it too will be appointed by the Minister, will have a say only in a consultative capacity.

The Board of Directors of the National Photographic Centre will also be appointed by the Minister. He will also appoint the Director from among the three persons proposed by the committee, which, as we said, he himself has appointed, from a proposal by the advisory committee, which, as we said before, he himself has appointed.

The Artistic Director of the Skopelos Photographic Centre is appointed in concurrence with the opinion of the Minister (after a proposal made by the advisory committee of the Photography Department of the Ministry of Culture, the members of which, if you recall, were appointed by the Minister himself). Let us take note here that the Artistic Director of the Skopelos Photographic Centre decides on any photographic activity of the centre and not only about the exhibitions. The members of the Skopelos advisory committee are proposed by the Artistic Director, with the concurring opinion of the Minister (who has already concurred with the choice of Artistic director).

The members of the Board of Directors of the Photographic Happening are appointed by the Minister upon the proposal of the advisory committee, whose members are also appointed by the Minister. The Artistic Director is appointed by the Minister from between three persons proposed by the Board of Directors and upon the proposal of the advisory committee (the members of which have also been appointed by the Minister).

If all of the above does not constitute a prime example of a dynamic centralization of power, then I am at a loss where to search for a better one. For Greece, at least, state control has never paid off, but instead has always created cliques, factions and violent changes of policy with each change of government. Attempts made by the compilers of the findings at protecting the artistic directors (in the event of their premature dismissal) give rise to suspicions, without being able to secure the tenure. When it comes down to it, when each minister has the right to unrestrictedly appoint officials, how can one deny the same right to arbitrary dealings to his successor?

· Pluralism and Discriminations

Another of the compiler’s lapses is that, despite continuously repeating that he is interested in pluralism, he asphyxiatingly and dangerously defines the boundaries of the type of photography that in his opinion should be supported. In this way he prejudices the opinions of the future officials. If he already knows the first of these and their opinions, it is not certain that he knows future ones too. The institutionalising of such restrictions is anti-art and totalitarian. Furthermore, all this didactic and philosophical aesthetic analysis is unacceptable as part of an institutional proposal, otherwise the task force and the Minister are transformed into exhibition curators and art theoreticians.

The compiler attempts to define the content of art photography. Why is this? Beyond the fact that the subject is difficult and indistinct, differing opinions will predominate at different times (and under different artistic directors). Was something like this necessary, one wonders, for the visual arts and the cinema? This is what each committee and artistic director are for. This is where pluralism will show itself. Also, the proposed definition is at the very least arbitrary and inadequate. "The artistic" it says "or formative photographic work is primarily that which demonstrates certain aspirations of an artistic nature" and it adds "…this definition has the virtue of simplicity: and instantly precludes it having not been made with artistic intent".

First observation: the disjunctive ‘or’ in the first sentence does not clarify if the artistic is equated to the formative, or whether these are two distinct types of photography. In both instances, however, the wording is poor and inaccurate, since the formative photographic work is part of the broader artistic spectrum. In other words, the damage is self-inflicted. The photographers who complied the findings accept the art of photography only when it works according to the rules, values and language of the art world. In this they fall in with those that have for years accused photography either of being the poor relation of painting or of non-existence (outside of painting), being unable to understand its artistic singularity and the development of its own language.

Second observation: whosoever looks to centres of art photography will have already expressed their artistic intent. This automatically assumes that their work will be artistic. On the other hand, a notable work whose creator, either from ignorance or modesty or eccentricity, does not claim artistic intentions should not be regarded as art.

· Amateur or Professional Artists

When the findings report gets to the subject of photographic groups in the rural areas it makes a first big mistake. It forgets the enormous, if flawed, contribution made by the Ministry of Culture’s Adult Education Program. Is this perhaps a forewarning that it will be axed? In this chapter (pg 75) the compiler makes a further arbitrary and historically inept mistake. "At this point" he writes, "we must clarify that amateur involvement, what ever its object may be, – in our case photography – should be supported by the State and by the Ministry of Culture in all possible and indirect ways, but not through direct financial support."

Here the compiler, with excessive ease, introduces the distinction of professional artist and amateur artist. The real distinction here is artist or non-artist (anything to the contrary is either ignorance or tendentiousness). The problem of who is an artist and who is not, even when looked at, as we have mentioned, in the peculiar fashion of the findings report, still has nothing to do with amateurism. If the distinction were made that amateurs were those artists who did not make a living from their work, it would still be unacceptable, but at least understandable. Then the applicant for a grant would also have to declare his/her tax registration number as a photographer! However, the compiler here uses the term "amateur involvement" clearly meaning that the involvement is superficial or deficient or lacking in seriousness. How can he introduce a distinction without at the same time being in a position to assess its secure parameters? If he does not do this he leaves the criteria open to any wanton and baseless decision made by whatever opportunistic, sciolistic or spiteful artistic director or committee member may come into power. Besides this, the term amateur is an inapt one in art. The only thing of interest is the quality of the artistic work (obviously not the quantity or the frequency), which in this instance will be judged by the (accepted) subjectivity of the official (director or committee member). The Art community is always ready (despite grudgingly so) to accept the rejection of an artist based on the personal opinions of reliable critics. Each time the possible (to almost certain) complaints are due to differences in artistic choice, appraisal and opinion. When, however, the criteria are non-artistic and are about something which has nothing to do with the quality of the work (such as the duration and seriousness of the artists involvement with the work, the subject matter and type of work etc.), then we should all rebel, because the danger of legislating even more non-artistic criteria remains open (such as for example that the artistic work be Greek, orthodox, optimistic, edifying etc.). It is a matter of basic principal that we all accept that such distinctions are fundamentally anti-art.

Something else needs noting, however. The compiler perhaps is unaware that there are a constantly increasing number of opinions abroad according to which art can rediscover its lost subversiveness and vitality only through some small groups and random individuals (q.v. Photochoros issue 3 "Approaches" with the relative opinions of French intellectuals).

The compiler, however, clearly has some psychological block around ‘professionalism’, which he oddly enough equates with quality, more or less as cameras salesmen do when trying to push an expensive model. In the contract programmed for Skopelos (I have a feeling that we have here the same compiler as we had for the findings report) he writes (article 4 paragraph 2 verse 6) that the Skopelos Centre will be launched in order to "work and act as a pan-Hellenic and international institution, with a professional manner and view-point, highlighting the professional standing and entrenchment of the artist and every other professional worker in photography".

If I have understood correctly, the main issue of art photography here is for the artists to obtain professional security. Perhaps it has to do with some kind of union demands. Perhaps this is something like professional poets. Furthermore, what kind of neologism is "professional worker in photography"? We must now wonder if the work we do places us in the category of professional-artist-photographers or cultural-worker-photographers? (Note that foreign terminology does not always translate happily.)

· The Organisations and the Others

When the findings report gets to the chapter about private photographic organisations, the intentions behind it become more apparent. A distinction is made between organisations that are artistic (the …serious ones, that is) and the …"others", to which the compiler assigns the professional photographers’ unions "and the societies of amateur photographers, which by nature usually have a large membership. In the case of amateurs, as a rule the only prerequisite for membership is the payment of the registration fee".

In the case in point, the intensions hidden behind the distinctions can now be clearly read. I do not wish to enlarge upon the significance that these so lightly named "amateur societies" have had and continue to have for photography in this country. I will, however, emphasise that the professional organisations whose aims are mainly financial and always trade oriented are put on a par with these groups whose main interest (both constitutionally and fundamentally) is the promotion of art photography. I note that the fact that they have many members and that they have indiscriminate registration are for the compiler something reprehensible and not a reason for praise, unless, of course, he envisions for private organisations the kind of "pluralism" that he is preparing for public ones. Private organisations, being open as they are, allow the individual the freedom of choosing to take part based on familiarity with the work and the aims of the organisation and not through precursory exclusion.

If in the same chapter (pg 86) we notice the observation that these ("other") organisations "may be endowed for specific, quality activities which facilitate the course and aims of the National Policy for Art Photography, but not to cover their working costs", we slowly come to understand the plot of the play and the philosophy of the house. It appears that these organisations will not be able to receive the financial support necessary for their survival, which should be the primary concern. Also, if they should wish to cover part of the costs of an exhibition, then that exhibition should further the aims of the National Policy as they are restrictively set down in this findings report. At this point I should like to point out that I have in the past, especially during the one-day conference in October, systematically avoided referring to the contribution that "Photography Circle" and "Photochoros" have made to photography. This at a time when most speakers, with a surprising lack of modesty or at least superficial humility, presented their own contributions, while with an equivalent show of prejudice completely neglected the contribution of others in their historic retrospectives.

However, the findings report forces me to point out that in Appendix 1, signed by Mr. Moresopoulos, there is clear discrimination against organisations to the detriment of "Photography Circle", despite the fact that no one (whether or not they hold the work of the "Circle" dear) disputes its substantial contribution in the matter of art photography in Greece.

To the first category ("Organisations and Configurations of Art Photography") are assigned the Athens Photographic Centre, Parallaxis, the Greek Photographic Centre and Camera Obscura. Do note the following: The two key members of the first organisation are on the task force (Mr. K. Antoniades and Mr. N. Panagiotopoulos). The second organisation was founded by Mr. A. Georgiou, who is also a member of the task force, and, as it happens, a founder of the last organisation. The third organisation, meanwhile, belongs to the compiler of this section, Mr. S. Moresopoulos. Let it also be noted that of the four organisations, two have "frozen" their activities for many years (Parallaxis and the Greek Photographic Centre) and the other two have already received funding. As by an official proclamation of the Ministry, one (the Athens Photographic Centre) receives a sum covering all its working costs, while the other (Camera Obscura), receives 10.000.000 GDR. The reading of the findings report leaves us with the certainty that these organisations will also be linked in the future with the National Policy through financial and ethical bonds. The activities of these subsidised organisations are restricted to mounting photographic exhibitions.

Mentioned in the second category ("Societies of Amateur/Art Photography") are Photography Circle, the Greek Photographic Company, the Photographic and Cinematic Club of Thessaloniki and the Leica Club of Greece. I will leave comment to the intelligence of the reader. The compiler of the article, when referring to photographic exhibition spaces, admits that today only the "Athens Photographic Centre" and "Photochoros" work as spaces purely dedicated to photography. When referring to the area of art magazines, he notes that only the Camera Obscura insert in "Entefktirio" (Club-House) and "Photochoros" continue to be published today. As to book publications, a mention is made of the theoretical books of the "Circle", but none of its monographs.

· Photographs and Anti-photographs

The text develops even more dangerously when the anonymous compiler attempts to assess the kind of photograph that will be sponsored, touching now upon the content and no longer the pledge of seriousness (?) of the organisation. I quote a characteristic passage from page 105: "Exhibitions of photographs of a descriptive nature and intent (portraying landscape, monuments, objects, situations or events) will be excluded from sponsorship, even in the cases where they have aesthetic and technical quality, which in itself does not constitute sufficient qualification for artistic status. At this point, it should be clarified that a high quality of photographic image – an image with integral technical and aesthetic competence - is the self-evident responsibility and prerequisite of every serious professional work, but not the necessary guarantee of the creation of a work of art."

Let us overlook the inappropriateness of such a didactic tone for this type of document, and observe that most certainly a high quality photographic image does not in itself comprise a guarantee of artistic creation, but it cannot become a reason for precluding it. Also, it is evidence of ignorance or an over-simplistic reading of art to categorise photographs into those that describe and those that do not. All the more so since the first category covers 95% of all art photography produced (both in the past and at present). To a similarly short-sighted categorisation, John Szarkowski, for twenty-five years the director of the photographic section of MOMA in New York, replied that it is like separating people into the Irish and others. In art, moreover, what is significant is not what is portrayed but how. The decision, consequently, must be made for each photographer and each photograph separately or else photographic giants of the past, and very many worthy new photographers in the present, will be excluded.

The absolute and excommunicative tone of these distinctions chills and terrifies me. It suggests a kind of preventative censorship. I would have no objections if the compilers of the text were to enforce these monolithic opinions of theirs from the position of artistic director, as most of them have done in the past when serving on critical committees, but I cannot accept them as guidelines for National Policy in any art. It would be something akin to demanding that in music, composers of tonal music should be excluded, or in the theatre, performances on an Elizabethan stage, or in painting, ‘box’ artists. How is the rigidity of these opinions can to be combined with what is stated in article 4, paragraph 2, verse 6 of the contract programmed for Skopelos, where with hypocritical naivety, it is noted that the Skopelos Centre should "support freedom of expression and ideas, pluralism, variety and the debating of opinions, thus promoting critical thought and excluding dogmatism"?

It brings to my mind corresponding texts (unfortunately using similar language and tone) by totalitarian parties and governments, who supposedly support the principles of democracy and freedom.

· Grants and Conditions

When it comes to the patronage of artists, we observe a relative stinginess. For example, three to five grants of half to one million drachmas are envisaged for new artists. It gives rise to unpleasant thoughts when I compare this to the amounts that will be required for the upkeep of the newly established organisations.

A restriction is added to this first category of grants; one known in the past, but which in this age of sensitivity to social discriminations should have been eliminated. It is the laying down of the limit of "youthfulness" at 35 years of age. It is logical for us to recall that Cameron and Atget (you know, those photographers who portrayed people and monuments) started after 45 or that many young people today experience a directional change in their interests at a greater age, or that an "old" person who decides to become a "new" photographer should perhaps be given greater support. I will pre-empt the possibility of acrimonious comment by stating that the middle-aged composer of the present article would never ask for a personal grant from the State. While I continue to teach, something like this would constitute an unfair competitiveness towards my students. There is, however, another restriction in this category. The applicant must have engaged in artistic activity for at least three years (exhibitions – publications). You can imagine the kind of extortions, supplications and solicitations that will be mustered up for the completion of the Curricula Vitae. Another negative point is that the committee will judge the sponsored work after its completion and will pay the second half of the amount only if the work fulfils the qualitative specifications of the programme! Once the committee has approved the granting of financial support it should not be allowed not to submit the full amount and be thus transformed into a technocratic inquisition, because then the artist will create with an anxiety about the committee’s preferences. I confess that I have never before come across such an anti-artistic, anti-ideological view.

Besides, it is improbable for one to be able to continue creating art if one has passed through the bureaucratic clashing rocks that the National Policy has prepared for him/her. If, for example, a young person wishes to ask for sponsorship for an exhibition, s/he should bare in mind the criteria which will be examined by the organisation and which are (page 107): "Merit and quality of the photographic work – Interest and innovation of the proposal – Merit of the theoretical/investigative work – Organisational ability and experience of the applicant – Rational cost/quality relationship – Standing and history of the applicant – Specifications of documentation, presentation and promotion - Quality and standing of the exhibition space – Potential access to the public – Possibilities of regional and overseas translocation - Incorporation of parallel activities – Participation of other local and foreign organisations, artists, theoreticians, critics, historians, educators etc. – Endorsement of sponsors and the securing of other sources of sponsorship – Priorities and directions of National Policy".

The climax of the chapter reads almost ironically: "Obviously, more substantial research and study of the material and a more dispassionate assessment is required for the organisation and production of exhibitions of Greek photography of national and historic content". Consider then that the exhaustive recital of the criteria of the previous paragraph does not secure for us even a dispassionate assessment!

There are, however, other categories of sponsored photographers, those that have an experience in art of ten or fifteen year’s standing. These photographers bear the added weight of having to justifying in their application "the usefulness of the work for their artistic-professional development". At least photographers of fifteen years standing will not have a problem here, since in 1980 they could be counted on the fingers of two hands. So, where as as a lawyer I had to follow my name with "for the Court of the First Instance", "for the Court of Appeals" or "for the High Court", as a photographer I should be considered as having a "three-year", "ten-year" or "fifteen-year" experience. Never mind the problems that will arise if the Curriculum Vitae incorporates a large "dead" period.

The sponsorship of books and magazines hides its own surprises. Among the prerequisites for the sponsorship of an art magazine is its pluralism. Strange indeed if one considers that the National Policy is not distinguished for its pluralistic tendencies, but requires this from a magazine that has every right to express an artistic direction. The sponsorship percentage ranges from 10% to 50% of the overall cost of the issue without the reasons for this fluctuation being made known. "Photochoros" is being sponsored this year (from the Lotto earnings) with 2.000.000 GDR for four issues. This amount represents 20% of the cost of the publication or approximately 10% of the total cost.

However, an exception is anticipated for magazines "of a purely theoretical content, with low readership, whose sponsorship could cover up to 100% of their losses". Another peculiar clause. Perhaps a publication is being prepared, certainly from a position of great security since its publisher will have absolutely no fear of commercial failure? Perhaps "Photochoros" should stop being anxious about advertising and pursue low readership, since in any case it is a theoretical magazine?

Fortunately, the findings report also foresees the sponsorship of photographic monographs, but with one scandalous prerequisite: That the applying photographer should have a proven long and continuous career and achieved recognition. So, all new photographers are out, those who have had a year off in their artistic career are out, those who cannot (because they cannot see the sense in it) prove that they are recognised. A triumph for the Curriculum Vitae and the Press Cutting. The use alone of the term "recognised" proves the artistic regression of the compiler. Even those proven "worthy" must yet fulfil another preposterous prerequisite: "…they must secure a serious critical text that comments on and analyses the work they are presenting". The trainee magicians have discovered the Word, which legalises the image. I am gloomily thinking of the many new and notable photographers who are now no longer presenting their work with even the slightest explanatory comment, not even their biography (Ken Schless in the marvellous "Invisible City", Lin Delpeirre and so many others). Who knows if this anachronistic and neo-dogmatic view will not create a new "school" of thought, so that in the future a critical analysis will be required for each serious human activity? The mentality of the compiler would not rule it out.

· Mournful Thoughts, Scant Hopes

It is doubtful whether the public will carefully read this lengthy work. Its bulk and ramifications of instances and exemplifications lead imperatively to its being hastily filed on a library shelf. My first reaction was to do the same and to consider the whole story just another parenthesis in the adventures of art in my country, where vagueness has been established as wisdom and self-interest as national necessity. I finally decided to publicly express my reservations, considering that the reverse would constitute an act of cowardice and complacency.

I consider it my duty to denounce a text of such totalitarian views and autocratic construction, which confronts art with the type of bureaucratic rules and asphyxiating criteria that have long been abandoned even in the realms of science or in the corridors of party politics. One cannot support art through the categorising of artists, nor through the classification of works of art, nor through the rise in eminence of many powerful bureaucrats. The institutions that the present Minister avows that he wants to bequeath us may promote the arts, however, they may (and this is the far more probable) become excellent lairs for the untalented big shots of the art world. Usually, institutions help the institution-keepers and not the artists, who can only exist in an atmosphere of freedom, respect and acceptance.

Although no one could conceive of not allowing people to support the kind of art they prefer and promoting the artists that express it, it is impermissible for the State itself to be transformed into a partial art critic. It should take interest in supporting every serious, quality work or effort, otherwise (and don’t let this frighten you) it will be doing nothing more than what totalitarian regimes have always done, and that is to support only the type of art that they agree with. The regular and unobstructed change of artistic directors and committees secures the much desired pluralism and variety that the development of art requires.

The regulations made by the task force in its findings report betray an anxiety to anticipate and eradicate every window which would allow for a view at variance with that advocated by the compiler, to be developed and find support, or that would permit some person or organisation other than this specific artistic clan to have a say in the future of photography.

But whence such fear? Is it perhaps due to the threat of nepotism, or to the possible incompetence of artistic directors and committees? Nepotism will, however, always exist (albeit covered up), and it is natural that incompetent artistic directors will occasionally take over from competent ones. It is better that one or two untalented photographers should be sponsored (besides, these may exist in all forms of photography and in every organisation) and that some post should be filled by an unsuitable director, than that we should institutionalise prohibitions (no to those without "recognition", no to "amateurs", no to "simple" photography), which are in danger of castrating photography, depriving it of notable new artists and entrapping it on a specific course, always under the direction of the same people.

I may perhaps be accused that my polemics are directed towards personal benefits. I would like to assure you that the only thing that I would hope for (on a personal level) from a national policy would be support for the activities of the "Circle", its photographers and of "Photochoros". The likelihood of this happening (under the present regulations) appears to fluctuate between the improbable and the impossible, but we would not refuse it, if despite everything, we were able to lay claim to it. I do not see myself, however, mixed up with administrative civil appointments, nor do I consider myself sufficiently patient or competent to fill them (despite the fact that I hold a driver’s licence!). This is why my previous comments are honestly about the supporting of an art form in the spirit of freedom.

If we were to really examine the complicated structural edifice that was developed in the over two hundred pages of the findings report, we would discover that it is fundamentally a mechanism for the dispensation of government funds, which, however, appears to be excessively bureaucratic, concentrated, prejudiced and extravagant in non- productive expenses. I think that in an age according to which the credibility of state mechanisms has been internationally undermined, even in areas which have traditionally been under state responsibility, it is not very efficacious to entrap art in such asphyxiating bureaucratic procedures under fundamental state control.

On the contrary, I would like to see a very small and flexible schema, either within the organisation of the Ministry or outside of it, which, monitored by a small advisory committee, and through a discreet and courteous presence, would support private (artistic, theoretical, didactic and educational) initiatives in creation, in exhibitions, in publicizing, in education. The interchanging of these few officials, at intervals of no longer than two years (not four or five years as the findings report anticipates), would secure the desired pluralism, which should in any case be the concern of each relative committee. Regulations to the contrary are both costly and unwieldy, while having the disadvantage of creating dangerous power-groups and of spawning art world despots.

My fear is that at the very time that Greek photography was beginning to secure pluralism and a point of view and was calling out for financial support, the pace that this effort has attempted to dictate to it will act as a constraint. Let us hope that I am wrong.