MAYFLIES I DIMITRA DEDE
Curated and produced by Sandrine Servent (Mina Raven)
Autumn 2020 (Date to confirm soon)
The exhibition presents Mayflies, a book by Greek photographer Dimitra Dede.
Mayflies are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. The scientific name is derived from the Greek ‘ephemera’ meaning short-lived, and ‘ptera’ meaning wings. Mayflies, the title of the book, is a reference to the brief lives of adult mayflies.
The project explores the pain of loss and the fragility of life through Dede’s eyes during the mourning of her mother’s death.
Dede lives in London, and her mother lived in Greece. The night of the 23rd of June 2015 Dede received a call with the news that her mother passed away, she took the first available flight to Athens, from London.
On the day of the funeral, as is customary in Greek culture; Dede kissed her mother’s forehead as she lay in her coffin. In the warm weather of summer, she was deeply moved by the icy contact with her mother’s body. After the funeral, this moment continued to haunt her with overwhelming thoughts about the shocking contrast of hot and cold: ‘My mother’s body was ice cold and the temperature outside was 36 degrees Celsius. The love, warmth and protection that I had felt all these years in my mother's arms was now replaced by the extreme coldness and loneliness of losing her forever.’
During her journey back to London, Dede wrote a text which we can find at the end of the book, entitled ‘The Music Stopped’. These words served to build the body of work, which later was to take the form of Mayflies. The book served as a transitional object, which made Dede’s mourning possible and as a tribute to her mother.
A few weeks later, Dede began a ten-day trip across the glaciers of Switzerland. The Rhône Glacier, in the Swiss Alps, became the subject of her gaze. White UV resistant blankets cover the mountain as a way to protect the glacier from melting from global warming, this reminded Dede of a body wrapped in a white shroud: ‘I entered the frozen body of the ice cave underneath the blankets looking like the shroud on my mother’s body and these images were cathartic for me’.
From 2015 to 2019, Dede brought together different photographic approaches: landscapes, self-portraits, portraits, staged photography, as well as her own personal archive. Through this process a narrative developed, one which surrounded her own existence, both as a child and as a mother.
The final artworks were created using chemicals such as acid, along with wax, fire, paint and alternative techniques used to treat the negatives and the prints. This final violent gesture, an expression of the pain she felt, seals the work with the artist and immortalises the loss, as Dede says: ‘The manipulation of the imagery was a violent process expressing the unbearable not only psychological and emotional but also actual body pain. I felt that I was fading away and I wanted my work to contain this tormented, fading feeling.’
The melancholy and poetry expressed in the narration of Mayflies draw us toward Dede’s inner journey. The book offers a glimpse into a distant land where photographs have been frozen and broken into pieces between time and space: childhood, motherhood, the passing of time and death. These elements appear in the book through oneiric metaphors, emphasising the cycle of life and the awareness of being mortal.
© Dimitra Dede
Mayflies - Published by Void Photo in 2019
Dimitra Dede (born in Athens, Greece) is a London based visual artist working mainly with photography. Her practice combines painting and the use of chemicals with photography. The making of the imagery is based on an intuitive process. Her subject matter quests the connection between space and time, memory and displacement, loss and longing, life and the Absurd. Her work has been presented in galleries and festivals in Europe, US and Asia (Center for Fine Art Photography - Fort Collins, Black Box Gallery- Portland, Brighton Photo Biennial, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Obscura Festival - George Town, Unseen Festival Amsterdam, the Benaki Museum - Athens, Belfast Photo Festival, Athens Photo Festival etc.).
‘Mayflies' is her first book and was finalist at the Unseen Dummy Award 2018 (Unseen Festival, Amsterdam).
Exhibition open every day from Wednesday to Sunday.
12 am - 6:00 pm
Admission is free