The Book of Lost Cities (1996) consists of ten backlit transparencies housed in wooden boxes reminiscent of museum display cases, each accompanied by an original text and a schematic map. The work plays upon the ambiguous nature of the photographic image, upon the powerful authority of scholarly texts and upon the fluctuating interpretation of historical and archaeological evidence. It is also a commentary on the way landscape is shaped and interpreted by history. Finally, like history itself, it is a labyrinth weaving truth and fiction into an inextricable whole.
The first version of The Book of Lost Cities was commissioned by the Rencontres Internationales Photographiques of Arles, constructed by Rencontres technicians on the artist's instructions, and first shown in June 1996 at the Musée de l’Arles Antique. It was later exhibited at the Forum Culturel du Blanc-Mesnil, Paris, between May and July, 1997, and subsequently destroyed by the artist. The work was completely redesigned and rebuilt prior to its first British showing at Wigmore Fine Art. It was also published as an artist's book, produced by ex pose verlag, Berlin in 2005.
Ten unique light boxes (duratrans colour transparencies, monochrome white on black texts and maps, fluorescent tubes & wood), 44 x 128 x 10 cm.
• 1996 Musée de l’Arles Antique, Rencontres Internationales Photographiques, Arles, France
• 1997 Forum Culturel, Le Blanc-Mesnil, Paris, France
• 1998 Wigmore Fine Art, London
• 1999 Photography Centre of Athens, Athens, Greece
• 2000 Lola Nikolaou Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece
• 2004 Les prix des Rencontres, Rencontres Internationales Photographiques, Arles (group exhibition)
• 2006 Arts Centre, American College in Greece, Athens, Greece
• 2013 Ting-Ting Chen: The Atlas of Places do not Exist, Corner, London
• 2016 Τόποι Μνήμης (Sites of Memory), Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece (group exhibition)
• Réels, Fiction, Virtuel, Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles 1996. Essay by Yves Abrioux , “Lost and found: on the epistemological politics of photographs”.
• The Book of Lost Cities, Wigmore Fine Art, London 1998 (catalogue)
• The Book of Lost Cities, ex pose verlag, Berlin 2005. Essays by Yves Abrioux and Joan Fontcuberta.
• Jean-Christian Fleury, “Arles 96”, Photographies Magazine, Paris, summer 1996
• Joan Fontcuberta, “Archeologies of Tomorrow”, Camerawork 24/2, S. Francisco, Fall 1997
• Richard D. North, “Cornelia, you have a cheating art”, The Independent, London, 26.5.98
• Ian Jeffrey, “John Stathatos, Wigmore Fine Art”, Untitled 16, Summer 1998
• Roy Exley, “The Book of Lost Cities”, Creative Camera 352, June 1998
• Richard Pinsent, “Not all ancient ruins”, The Art Newspaper, London, July 1998
• Ian Jeffrey: “John Stathatos: The Book of Lost Cities”, Portfolio 28, Edinburgh, Winter 1998