Cyprus Mail

Spirits of the Rainforest: innovative photography


The Island Club presents Spirits of the Rainforest: A Photographic Innovation, an exhibition comprising the archives of Cypriot photographer Dimas Efthyvoulos, along with a reconstruction of his audio-visual presentation Spirits of the Jungle or Other Aspects of Reality.

“I’m an insignificant old man. I have no right to ask you any favours. But please, open your eyes and see a bit more of what you are not normally accustomed to see.”

Efthyvoulos was born in Nicosia in 1924. Shortly after the events of 1974, during which he briefly worked as a war photographer, he travelled to the Peruvian Amazon where he lived and worked for almost ten years. During this time, he became deeply involved with the spiritual practices of the local population, apprenticing with shamans and taking part in religious ceremonies involving the psychoactive brew ayahuasca.

These experiences led him to “a transcendental photographic innovation” – a technique he called “sidesight” which, using mirroring and a 90-degree shift in perspective, sought to photographically capture the ‘spirits of the rainforest’. Through this practice, Efthyvoulos hoped to demonstrate that nature is replete with intelligence, vindicating the animistic insights of mestizo shamanism and illuminating the “magical beauty and mystical essence” of the natural world.

2Following his return from the Amazon, Efthyvoulos sought to propagate his work and its message. In addition to his philosophical and spiritual concerns, he passionately advocated for the protection of the natural environment and spoke extensively about the environmental and cultural impact of colonialism on indigenous lands and populations. The core of his artistic practice was an audio-visual presentation titled Spirits of the Jungle or Other Aspects of Reality, during which he projected slides of his spirit photographs, reproduced field recordings from the Amazon, and gave a lecture on climate change, colonialism, and his photographic innovation and experiences with shamanism. The presentation toured South America and was also shown in North America and Europe.

Eventually returning to Cyprus, Efthyvoulos continued to develop his work through a variety of media and various forms of experimentation with technology, accumulating an extensive archive comprising photographs, videos, audio tapes, texts, drawings, paintings, watercolours, and a range of other experimental material. He passed away in December 2011.

Efthyvoulos’ archives have now been organised, digitised and preserved by the team of The Island Club, and form Spirits of the Rainforest: A Photographic Innovation. The exhibition will activate both spaces of The Island Club: Efthyvoulos’ archives will be available to view and study at the new space of The Island Club at #18 Agora Anexartisias, while a digital reconstruction of his historic presentation Spirits of the Jungle or Other Aspects of Reality will be shown on loop at the Christodoulos Panayiotou Studio at #34 Agora Anexartisias.


Spirits of the Rainforest: A Photographic Innovation

Exhibition of the archives of Cypriot photographer Dimas Efthyvoulos, along with a reconstruction of his audio-visual presentation. July 3 – August 8. The Island Club, Limassol. Opening day: 12pm-8pm. Thursday to Saturday: 12pm – 6pm. The archive will also be available to view privately by appointment. Tel: 25-252010

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