“My work is surreal. Symbolizations, implications, and disguised up drawings of memories, dominate. I have been affected by hyper-realism and the Dada movement. Lately, I have been experimenting with mix-media techniques. My inspiration comes from un-satisfaction. From love. From small, apparently indifferent details which will turn into the whole universe of the artist if you isolate each of them…From every barely noticeable thing. Taste, sound, feeling, crash and crumble of everyday people. From memories.
Photography balances between memory and oblivion. The one thing that is sure, is her evanescent nature. Like everything that is evanescent and transient. Even we are… So if we could realize through the identity of the photograph that our presence is only temporary on this planet, maybe we would change the way we deal with the people around us. We are not of such great importance as we might think.”
- Sofia Dalamagka
**Sofia's portion of this article has been translated to English by Anastacia Ch.
André Ramos-Woodard in conversation with Sofia Dalamagka —
Oct. 2022 — FUCK, it's been incredibly too long. Sorry for the hiatus, but I guess life gets in the way more than we would like to admit. In the past year, we've both been through a lot of changes--Jen is in the first year of pursuing her MFA, and André is working full-time at an art gallery in H-Town. Anyways, we truly hope to get the ball rolling again.
In this conversation-interview-thingy, we get to know more about Sofia Dalamagka, an artist we were introduced to by curating Float Magazine's Photo, But Not Photo exhibition. Yo, bugs?! Fruit?! Talk about PHOTO, BUT NOT PHOTO. We're such a sucker for those pushing past the boundaries of all the ways we've been learning about art (and photography specifically in this case) in them good ole' Art History classes. We hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy her work. <3
The Marriage, Sofia Dalamagka
André Ramos-Woodard: Hey, Sofia! I’m so happy to have this opportunity to speak with you after being introduced with your work through Float Magazine’s Photo, But Not Photo exhibition! The work you submitted was fucking gorgeous, by the way. 😍 But before we get too deep into your art, do you mind telling us about yourself? Who are you? What makes you tick?
Sofia Dalamagka: Sometimes I myself wonder who I am… The one thing that’s sure is that my name is Sofia; I am from Arkitsa, a small village somewhere in central Greece. I’m a restless spirit and as a result, I never rest assured inside the frame of a label. I am a photographer. I am a conceptual artist, I am a digital artist, or better yet all of these together. Who knows?!
The inexhaustible ways of this medium and this playful, deep-inside aspiration to discover something new every time gives me the boost and stimulus I need. It's this enthusiasm that refreshes again and again when something new is being created or emerging through every piece of artwork separately.
ARW: That's nice to know! I highly respect the fact that you aren't satisfied with fitting inside of a box. It's people like that who make the world keep turning. <3 And of course, we always love a fellow art enthusiast!! More power to you, homie.
So, what made you who you are today?
Sofia Dalamagka: Pain. Rejection. Love. I think those three words follow us through all of our lives. I myself, personally, have been shaped by them. First as a human being, and later on as an artist. In order to find love, you have to, before everything, make peace with the two first words.
ARW: Absolutely. I would be lying if I said those very things aren't prevalent in my own art practice, not to mention my life. It's a bit of a difficult process to really comprehend such malleable emotions... but maybe life is all about pushing through those experiences that ain't so great (pain and rejection) to get to the better ones (love).
A'ight, though you manage to flip the script on some of the more traditional means of photography, I think it’s safe to say photography is a pretty important aspect of your artmaking. What does the medium of photography do for you?
Sofia Dalamagka: The medium of photography–minus the monstrous power it can have by those who dangerously use it to twist the truth, proven throughout history–for me, is an excellent, non-violent way to touch social issues and pathogenesis. Through my artistic practice I burst the abscess. The year before ‘22, we had 19 women killed in Greece, and as I am writing you these words, another one was announced on social media. I can’t stay unaffected as a woman and artist-creator. All that pierces through the way I cope with the image. I try to trouble, disturb, and create questions around the position of womanhood, but also about the patriarchic system that “strangles” us.
Yes, the “visual” side of photography bewitches me. It looks like a riddle you have to solve. Every collage, every edginess, every desecration challenges me to discover a new truth that doesn’t have to be rational; they can be absolutely irrational too.
The Petal, Sofia Dalamagka
ARW: So many things have changed in the past few years. I was honestly surprised to find out just how many of my friends and colleagues have found it difficult to maintain the drive to keep going. I don’t even need to mention the numerous variables that have impacted global society these past few years. What keeps you motivated to make art?
Sofia Dalamagka: For me, art is the saving hand through all this you just described, André. What keeps pushing me is passion. The ambition. Besides obstacles, difficulties, and misfortune, in reference to the great Maya Angelou, Still I Rise! Art is a way of existing. I just cannot stop.
ARW: I feel the same way! I wouldn't be able to stop making art even if i tried. If someone forced me, they'd have to lock me up. I mean, ain't no way I'm turning my brain off whether I like it or not. I love that you share that innate need some of us have to just perpetually create stuff!
How 'bout we get into some of the work you submitted to the Photo, But Not Photo call—ERROR 404. Where did this series derive from? Where do you find these images, and what do they mean to you?
Sofia Dalamagka: My neighbor threw away some photographs of her which were taken when she was a little child–her wedding photos and also a portrait of her father–in the garbage. It was then that I first thought of the power of photography and the role it plays in our lives. Her decision might have been a symbolic move of punishment and banishment; rejection of a personal remembrance? If those photographs could talk, what would they want?
On a second reading, memorabilia photographs that come from my family contain such fake and staged depictions of happiness. Recognizing how so far away from reality these images are is what gave me the final push to create this project.
I started collecting photographs from all over the place: deserted and abandoned houses, antique stores, family albums, drawers, and closets. It’s the first born material! I’m bewitched by the touch of time on these photographs, and even the retouching done by hand in old photography shops.
Those photographs aren’t just old lifeless pieces of paper with faces on them for me. They are evidence of memory and sometimes of oblivion. It is the proof of a whole lifetime. It is the in print of ethics and tradition, motives and behaviors that sometimes alter or reshape through the passing of time.
ARW: Yo, let’s get into Parasitic Personas–I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I mean, I'm mesmerized by the fact that both physical and digital collage elements are utilized so blatantly. GIRL, THOSE BUGS. I don't have a choice but to reconcile with such intimate depictions of insects, though horrific to some (myself included). Do you mind walking us through this piece? What were you trying to get across?
Parasitic Personas, Sofia Dalamagka
Sofia Dalamagka: While I was creating this collage, I was adding and removing props, while laughing through the whole process. It was as if I was doing a cheat. On the other hand, I was certifying the bad relationship I had with my father but also the way I see every patriarchal behavior and attitude. As an annoying bug! As a faceless establishment. The body language, that macho-man attitude of old cut are part of the patriarchal culture. A way to manifest that, was to make fun and scorn it by putting bugs that I gathered from around my parents’ house, on their faces.
ARW: The accuracy! Girl, I can't tell you how much I fuck with that, other than I ABSOLUTELY FUCK WITH THAT! I adore the ability to simultaneously dismantle the sense of patriarchy in your life by overlapping them with those nasty things. In reality, the male supremacy in this world is vile, so the comparison is GIVING. You did what needed to be done!!
On that note, taking into account the various ways that you’ve manipulated the photograph in ERROR 404—cutting, layering, ripping, stapling—what made you feel like “straight photography” wasn’t enough for what you were trying to say in this work?
Sofia Dalamagka: As time went by, knowledge became more multidimensional, and I realized the multiple abilities of the medium. Clean, straight photography wasn’t able to express 100% of what I wanted to say. At this point, experimenting was a one-way road. After a lot of thought, I understood that I have to deconstruct the image so as to allow something new to arise, which would be part of a versatile truth.
There is somehow revenge in the way I use these photographs. In the past when we usually printed pictures more than now, how many times did we scribble on them or cut out friends/lovers with scissors? How many times did we rip them into two, three pieces? What I’m trying to do is not only puzzle, but also disrupt the phenomenon of patriarchy, the institution of family, inside-family violence, and also my own splitting childhood. It took me a very long time to even be able to say these words.
ARW: Sofia, thank you so much for the work you do. I very much appreciate your candidness and the passion you have to dismantle systems of oppression–both within your own experience and at a societal level. I know plenty of people reading this will feel the same way. <3
Now finally, of course, we must ask; What’s next? Are you working on anything right now?
Sofia Dalamagka: It is a very active period for exhibitions, presentations, and projects which are still developing. Nevertheless, my interest is focused on a Master's I want to achieve in “Research and Methodology on Photography”. Right now in Greece, we have excellent photographers–women photographers–and still there hasn’t been any important research done when it comes to female photographers in Greece in the past 100 years. I dream to be the one who will write a book that will negotiate and point out this subject!
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