Chrysalis, by artist and photographer Olga Stefatou, introduces viewers to 11 women who fled their old countries in search of a better life. Each woman’s story is different, owing to the unique forces that caused her to uproot her life, flee to Greece, and eventually cross paths with Stefatou.
Each of Stefatou's subjects wears a golden costume fashioned from metallic emergency blankets, the kind distributed to refugees and a symbol of today’s mass migrations. Created in collaboration with designer Guram Chachanidze, the dresses are expressions of each woman’s personal story and spirit.
Accompanying the photographs are testimonials from the women, who have journeyed to Greece from Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Together, image and text give the women a platform to present themselves to the world as they wish to be seen: as individuals, each with her own reasons to leave home, and each with her own expectations and hopes for the future.
Chrysalis is presented as a companion to another exhibition exploring personal experiences around displacement and migration. Sanctuary features rugs designed by 36 leading artists, including Mona Hatoum, Brendan Fernandes, and Ai Weiwei. Both exhibitions appear in an immersive environment developed by Sarajevo-born artist and architecture historian Dr. Azra Akšamija. Created from recycled and reused materials, Akšamija’s design references the transient shelters of those seeking sanctuary and honours the Earth as a sanctuary for all life.
Chrysalis was featured in the Los Angeles Month of Photography and in Australia’s Head On Photo Festival. In 2018, the portrait series was a finalist for the 12th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, which recognize outstanding works by women photographers. Many of Stefatou’s other projects have been exhibited in art venues and festivals worldwide.
Olga Stefatou is a Greek visual artist working with photography and video. In her practice, she investigates the idea of freedom and its connections to geopolitics, heritage, and social structures, with a special interest in gender issues.
Curator Conversation: Museum Curator Dr. Marika Sardar introduces Chrysalis
Artist Conversation: Photographer Olga Stefatou
Facebook Live tour of Chrysalis with Museum Curator Dr. Marika Sardar
In the News
Al Jazeera, February 8, 2020
Striking portraits celebrate individuality of refugee women