Elinor Butka / Dionisis Christofilogiannis / Charalampos Papadopoulos / Ervin Qafmolla

A single stretched finger tracing lines between neighbouring stars, like sorcery brings alive the imagination of the universe. This instinctual drive to create images which guide our way, and the legends alongside them which protect or bring abundance are tied to the very essence of our consciousness. These kinds of powerful avatars were born in the minds of humanity as much as they gave birth to it; and it was in these stories that man found universal order and meaning, in-between the darkness of the night and the illusion of the void.

South by the Sea 3 brings together the storyteller Ervin Qafmolla with Art Drone Projects (Dionisis Christofilogiannis and Charalampos Papadopoulos) in a project which combines research into the folklore of the Bay of Vlora, with precision drone flights, long aperture photography, and mythological metaphors. The exhibition presents an anthology of fragments from an autochtonous cosmology focusing on the Island of Sazan and the Bay of Vlora. These are stories which find their roots as much in old history of the region as in last week’s hearsay; spanning from factual truth to dreamlike delirium throughout the narrative; as is modus operandi in good mythtelling.

A drone carrying light on its back flies into the sky, like a would-be anti-prometheus taking fire back to the gods. As the drone takes flight in a jostle towards its coordinate destination, the aperture of the camera opens up, and the drone begins its hypnotic dance; as if trying to communicate in a language that it’s inventing on the spot. The subtle signs of the passage of time are captured in the movement of stars; each one, mimicking summer rain, and etching in each photograph the earth’s rotation in the universe. The ephemeral landscapes appear to escape being painted by the light of a specific hour, but rather create an aura of a dreamlike timelessness. The result is a snapshot of a floating moment which somehow encapsulates both day and night, and becomes the stage of a celestial theater, unfolded in nine photographic tableaus captured in the spring of 2022 in select locations around the Bay of Vlora.

South by the Sea is a yearly showcase of southern voices in contemporary art. This year’s exhibition is the third edition, featuring a collaborative project with contributions from artists from Albania and Greece combining stories and cultures from the Balkans. This project was developed by Galeria e Bregdetit, and supported by the Ministry of Culture of Albania, IDS Industrial Drone Services and Space52.Athens.