My photographs are staged narratives in which I scout for locations, dress my friends and family, then photograph them in a manner that refutes reality. I am always chasing ethereal beauty, creating it if it isn’t there, and I like the tension between the magical and the mundane.
I use costumes, light, color, movement, and reflective effects for a surreal and metaphysical quality. While my process is directed and choreographed, it is the element of chance and surprise that I am after, and I rely on my camera and models for that unexpected moment. I believe I have been inspired by movies and fantasy, and mostly by the fairy tales and rags-to-riches stories my girlfriends and I grew up with. As such, I hope my photographs channel ideas like stepping through the looking glass and becoming someone else, reflections and magic mirrors, mysteries within and beyond the frame, dangers, delights, and superpowers.
However, with coming of age I also understand how fraught and complicated these symbols and references are, particularly in regards to women, and to myself. I often think of my images as sequences which evoke adventures that can turn quickly into anxiety dreams. You are dressed for an event, but can’t quite reach your destination…or you are dancing, and suddenly you lose yourself, and are transported elsewhere.
I was circling around these escapist topics during the height of the pandemic, when I was stuck in the city. Then I moved to a rural area for college, where I developed a relationship of awe with nature. I was astounded by its surprises, particularly in view of my previous state of isolation. I wanted to merge my attraction to the landscape with a sense of being stalked or haunted by the space you’re in. I am looking for that tension that I feel within myself. Maybe we are all complex and layered, a blend of what we see, what we remember, what we hope for and what we fear.
About Zoe Vassiliou
Zoe Vassiliou is a Greek American photographer, currently living in New York. She began taking pictures at the age of 16 and won numerous awards, including several Scholastic Gold Keys for Photography and a National Gold Medal for Film. She was selected as a 2020 Young Arts Finalist in Photography, and received the award for Scholastic Excellence from The Panhellenic Scholarship Foundation. She is currently pursuing a degree in Art and Media Studies at Cornell University. [Official Website]