Book Review: America in a Trance by Niko J. Kallianiotis

Niko J. Kallianiotis’ first monograph, America in a Trance dives into the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s industrial regions, a place where small town values still exist and sustainable small businesses once thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry. America in a Trance is familiar and fresh at the same time. Projects of this type are seen in documentary projects which use similar stylistic approaches; it can be seen in Joel Sternfeld’s style of witty insight, Robert Frank’s ‘outsider’ observations of America, the use of color and light in street photography by Saul Leiter, and Walker Evans’ landscapes and portraits of the area are photographic canon. The work of Kallianiotis is both an homage to these potential influences, and a departure from iconic images around the area where he lives. He deftly addresses the cultural and economic state of the nation, as seen through a number of cities and towns in Pennsylvania.

There is far more to Kallianiotis’ images than an expected patina of fading industry, waning prosperity, and portraits of the people who call this place home. His images use evocative color, and artful use of light to convey the dynamics of the scenes he encounters. Dramatic evening shadows lend a theatrical flair to a woman standing next to a bank deposit box. Flat light from an overcast afternoon helps bring out the texture of American flag-like awnings which partially obscure the alleyway side of an apartment building back porch. He captures signage and language on buildings and advertisements with visually ironic placement – both physically, and in respect to this point in history. Political references are not avoided. In the case of political campaigning by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Kallianiotis visually pits them against each other in a two-page spread. But the end result for the book is not overtly slanted to one side or the other. Optimism for a better future and pessimistic views of the current landscape balance the scales.

Kallianiotis is Greek by birth, but is also an American citizen and has lived here for 20 years, so his commentary on the current political climate is likely influenced by strikingly different factors than your average Pennsylvanian. In a 2017 interview with PBS,  Elizabeth Flock asked Kallianiotis about the meaning behind the title for his project. He replied, “The meaning is the way the country is right now,” he says. “I’m sensing that after the (Presidential) election, people walking in these towns are disoriented and alienated… including me. I’m in every picture, too, in terms of the loneliness and trying to assimilate. Trying to blend with the culture, since I have two countries. I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m Greek, and I love both. This hybrid situation is complicated. The trance is: you’re aware, you’re listening, but you can’t really respond. I think that’s where we are right now.”

That place in the middle is bitter-sweet. The decades spent in America have taught Kallianiotis how beliefs from both sides of the fence in the current political climate have a direct effect and interest in these towns. And yet, he achieves a certain level of neutrality within the work. Whether it is the hard Pennsylvania coal towns to the East, the shadows of looming steel stacks to the West, or every faded American dream in between – Kallianiotis explores an illumination of hope through his own relationship with the land. Within America in a Trance, there is the silhouette of what once was, streets and storefronts thriving, and the reflections of that time coming back to us through his mindful eye.

America in a Trance by Niko J. Kallianiotis
ISBN: 9788862085953
Hardcover, 12 x 8.5 inches
136 pages; 95 color images
Published by Damiani

To find out more about America in a Trance or to see more work by Niko J. Kallianiotis, please visit his website:

This book is available for purchase at or at the publisher’s website:

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© Joel Meyerowitz, courtesy Polka Galerie.

November 8, 2018 January 12, 2019

OPENING Thursday, November 8 OF 18H At 8:30 p.m.

Polka Gallery, Venice Court, 12 rue Saint-Gilles Paris 3rd

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Rebecca Sampson @ Foam

Beauty queen contestants waiting for the recognition of the jury – housemaids on their day off in Hong Kong
from the Series Apples for Sale, 2016-17 © Rebecca Sampson

Rebecca Sampson – Apples for Sale
2 November 2018 – 16 December 2018

“Over 300,000 foreign domestic workers work and live in Hong Kong. The large majority is from Indonesia and the Philippines. These women usually work twelve hours a day, six days a week, under appalling terms of employment. Although they are officially entitled to one day off a week, this law is often not observed in practice. Sleeping on a mattress next to the laundry machine, in the kitchen or under the stairs, these women frequently lack private space to spend their scarce leisure time. While on a visit to Hong Kong in 2013, Sampson observed how hundreds of labour migrants – homeless for one day – spent their Sundays in the parks and public spaces of the city. The photographer spent many Sundays with them and gradually got to know them. She found herself at beauty contests, night clubs, staged weddings and lavishly decorated rental containers, where the lucky few who can afford it act out their one-day existence. ”

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam

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Civilization: The Way We Live Now @ Flowers Gallery

Massimo Vitali, Piscinao de Ramos Diptych, 2012

Civilization: The Way We Live Now
7 November – 22 December 2018

Exhibiting artists:
Edward Burtynsky
Nadav Kander
Robert Polidori
Simon Roberts
Michael Wolf

“Civilization: The Way We Live Now is a major exhibition, featuring the work of 100 of the world’s finest photographers. It addresses and illuminates major aspects of our increasingly global 21st century civilization. It stresses the fact that contemporary civilization is an extremely complex collective enterprise. Never before in human history have so many people been so interconnected, and so dependent on one another. In science and art, at work and play, we increasingly live the collective life. The Olympic Games, the giant Airbus, CERN, MRI, the Trident Submarine, Wikipedia, the Academy Awards, the International Space Station, Viagra, the laptop computer and the smartphone… However we feel about any of them, none of these complex phenomena would have been possible without superlatively coordinated efforts involving highly educated, highly trained, highly motivated, highly connected people.”

Flowers Gallery
82 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DP

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Tom Chambers @ photo-eye Gallery

Tom Chambers: Hearts and Bones
November 30, 2018 – January 5, 2019

Opening Reception & Book Signing: Friday, November 30, 5 – 7 PM

photo-eye Gallery
541 South Guadalupe St
Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Petri Juntunen @ Photographic Centre Peri

Petri Juntunen: At the Heart of it All

“Conflict produces terror. Having a desire to live, but realising that death is inevitable is managed by embracing cultural structures or systems that act to provide life with meaning and value. The knowledge of this Absurdity of Existence transforms into social constructs and eschatological fantasies that try to make the sense of ending bearable. On a larger scale, societies build symbols: laws, cultures and belief systems to explain the significance and meaning of life.

At the Heart of it All is a study of the individual contemplating his own mortality, how one looks at his existence, at the same time seeing the beginning and sensing the inevitable end. What have been imagined are these Spaces within Spaces, where the remnants of humanity exist in the form of wrecks, ruins and absence. Emblems where time is made visible and places act as repositories of memories. The images acting as allegorised and miniaturised distillations of reality, reconstructed and scaled down to fit into the field of view, make things comprehensible. ”

Photographic Centre Peri
Itäinen Rantakatu 38
20810 Turku, Finland

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Thomas Bouquin @ VU

Thomas Bouquin: Le Roc d’Ercé
October 26 to December 2

OPENING Friday, October 26, 6-8 PM

VU / European Space
550, Côte d’Abraham, Quebec City, Canada

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Inside the Outside: Out of the Woods of Thought @ Argentea Gallery

Image: J. M. Golding

Inside the Outside: Out of the Woods of Thought
November 2 – December 22, 2018

Preview November 1, 2018, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

“Inside the Outside is a landscape photography collective mediating the liminal space between the world before us and the world within. Whether we simply enjoy being in the landscape or are involved in its representation the question we will all confront at some stage is ’How do we relate to the landscape?’. There is the inescapable awareness that we are of nature and yet apart from it. And although we can see and eventually imagine nature, it is beyond our abilities to fully comprehend it. Plus we all become aware that the land is not only changed by the hand of people, it can also change us.

Being in the landscape (and representing the landscape) is to simultaneously inhabit two worlds, the one before us and the one inside us. And when those two worlds collide and intermingle the result can often surprise.

Dealing as it does with the reality of what is before us, and also with the often unspoken ability to express something of our inner selves, photography is the perfect medium to explore our relationship with the land. And it also the perfect medium to mediate between those two simultaneous worlds of being there experiencing and the revelations that occur when we open ourselves to the creative possibilities of that liminal space.

Featuring photography by Al Brydon, Brian David Stevens, Guy Dickinson, J. M. Golding, Rob Hudson, Lynda Laird, Stephen Segasby, Tom Wilkinson, and Joseph Wright.”

Argentea Gallery
28 St. Paul’s Square, Birmingham, England B3 1RB

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Bay Area Big Shots @ Panorama Framing

Image: J. M. Golding, From darkness we find each other

Bay Area Big Shots
November 1 – December 31, 2018

Opening reception Thursday, November 1, 2018, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Mid-show reception Thursday, December 6, 2018
Closing reception Saturday, December 29, 2018

“The first annual juried exhibition of the East Bay Photo Collective, featuring the work of 40 artists, representing a variety of voices, techniques, and styles.”

Panorama Framing
3350 Grand Avenue, Oakland, California, United States

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Robert Kalman @ Soho Photo Gallery

Robert Kalman – Parade Unrest: The Confederate Monument Controversy
November 6th – November 25th

Opening Tuesday, November 6th 6:00 to 8:00pm

“In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, documentary photographer Robert Kalman wanted to uncover a story that would help further his own understanding of how objects of stone and metal could elicit an emotional response so passionate as to result in violence, injury and death. He sought to understand the diverse points of view about the monuments as expressed by proponents desiring to preserve them, and by those who demanded their removal.”

Soho Photo Gallery
15 White Street (between 6th Avenue & West Broadway)

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