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Helias Doulis
Photography Helias Doulis

Juxtaposing male nudes with Grecian settings

A nudist beach acts as a refuge for Greece's gay community, captured in a series of striking photographs from Helias Doulis

Photographer Helias Doulis creates a sweeping cinematic narrative with his evocative series entitled Parabyss: A Nurtured Nature. Shot in Limanakia, a gay nudist beach located approximately 30 minutes from Athens, the setting – a hot-spot for men frolicking in the sun was “the most appropriate place to create an island in the middle of nowhere, a refuge, made out of rocks and flesh”. Immersed in a “parabyss”, a synthesis of paradise and abyss, homosexual men are afforded a place of refuge and self-expression, worlds away from the scrutinising eyes of society. 

Hiding their faces, the Parabyssians, some coupled and some isolated, are left to manifest their states of persecution. “The Parabyssians exist in a state of safety, protecting each other from the judgmental eye of the society, waiting to smear them just across the shore. The viewer always exists in the borderline between my alter egos and the society.” Embracing the liberation of nudity, the men find themselves protected in the arms of Mother Nature — untainted and accepted without condition. 

Inspired by director Pedro Almodovar’s transgender characters, photographer George Platt Lyne’s homage to Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy, and poet Nikos-Alexis Aslanoglou, Doulis explains the piece is much an observation as a personal declaration. “Every day, we face the entrenched attitude of the world towards the so-called minorities, which feel unable to merge. On a personal level, the consolidated picture that society compels me to adopt creates the urgent need to react through my photographs for the harmful effects on the human, innocent body — a body that longs to be driven by its own desires. Unfortunately, this fight causes wounds.” 

Doulis intends to uncover a part of the gay collective consciousness that is rarely exposed. “My thirsty purpose is to highlight the hidden sensitivity of the human body, and especially of the male one, whose tears are generated by the patriarchy.” Submerged in a utopia free from the constraints of authoritarian forces, each male may experience a personal death and rebirth of sorts. Doulis hopes the viewer may also reach a catharsis. “I want the viewer, through my models to seek for his/her own haven. The recourse, however, in such a place will always presuppose a kind of spiritual death. Upon his return, Mother Nature has offered the memory of her womb’s warmth.”