March 14, 2017
When Niko Kallianiotis came to the United States from Greece more than two decades ago, his impression of America was heavily colored by Hollywood and the country's reputation for larger-than-life metropolitanism.
He settled in Scranton, however, about as wrong of a place to find that glitz and glamor as any in the nation. A photographer, Kallianiotis came to understand a different side of the United States, one whose industrial past was in conflict with the economic tides that swept it away, one factory at a time.
For his most recent exhibition, on display at Scranton's Marywood University, Kallianiotis traveled across Pennsylvania to document the scenery of the state's once thriving industrial towns. Inspired in part by the influence of the 2016 presidential election and President Trump's popularity in large parts of Pennsylvania, Kallianiotis dubbed the running collection, "America in a Trance," as a way to describe the palpable mood he witnessed in his travels:
This project is an ongoing observation of the fading American dream so typified in the northeastern Pennsylvania landscape but widespread across the United States. My subject choices derive from intuition and the desire to explore the unknown and rediscover the familiar.
In a recent interview with PBS, Kallianiotis explained that while the project isn't meant to be overtly political, its title hints at a broader societal observation he's made about the American people since last year's election.
I’m sensing that after the 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.