Christian Stemper, Lupimaris
Sure it’s parochial, but I’m always delighted when I find something entrancing that’s from Paros. No single place has more of a spiritual claim over me, and although Paros is not my sole home it is home in a rooted way that feels more solidly anchored than my loyalty and identity to my adopted home of New York. And so I felt a frisson when I found Christian Stemper’s Lupimaris (Wolves of the Sea) project today on the internet. He is raising money to produce a photo book of this project full of love and beauty. Looking at these images put a bounce in my day which I hope to share with you. Stemper’s images reminded me of Platon’s Paros series.
Some years ago, in a local exhibition space a hundred meters from my mother’s door in Paroikia, I stumbled across a riveting exhibit of photographs by Platon. I had not seen his work before (my memory is blurry, but I think this exhibit took place a year or two before Platon exploded to fame and photographed all the world leaders at the UN summit in New York, for The New Yorker.) Platon is six years older than me and apparently spent some of his childhood, and many of his summers, in Paros. I’ve never knowingly interacted with him, but many of the characters in his pictures are people I’ve known my whole life, like the grocer Diplos, or like the fisherman and dock hand who used to pilot one of the small boats across the bay to the beach. I never knew that fisherman’s name, but as 5-year-old I dreamed idly of growing up and having this man’s serenity. Platon’s photographs captured something I had been looking at for a lifetime, and the animating feeling that thing had evoked, and they did it in a way that felt utterly different to me than photographs I had seen. Familiar, intimate, dissonant, jarring, but jarring in the sense of revealing a new perspective on the known. I thought of those images when I saw the Lupimaris portraits today.
Platon’s Fisherman portrait