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Photographer Olga Deikou, through frames and compositions that seem to have sprang out of a Wong Kar-Wai film, captures an unseen truth that cannot be portrayed through words.

Olga Deikou

Photographing the city’s soul

Text: Yorgos Papadimitriou | Photographs: Olga Deikou's Archive
Olga Deikou

Olga Deikou was born in Florina, and moved to Thessaloniki at the age of 18 to study Chemical Engineering, but couldn’t refrain from succumbing to the charms of photography, to which she has wholeheartedly devoted herself over the last fifteen years. Needless to say that it is us who profited the most out of this turn of events, as we have found ourselves time and time again speechless at the sight of her photographic compositions – frames pulsating and vivid, oozing powerfulness, emotion, melancholy, as well as a low-key nostalgia of undefined origin.

The urban landscape, through Olga’s lens, is transformed and reshaped, endowed with a dreamlike hue and a fluid texture, as if dissolved into the city’s reflections and mirages. Her photos unveil unseen corners and well-hidden secrets, the less traveled roads our glance chooses to overlook. A solitary light amidst a cluster of apartment blocks; a sign defiantly sparkling in the heart of darkness; a deserted arcade inhabited by whispers and drops of silence; the scarcely illuminated stairway of a long-forgotten entrance: snapshots that auscultate an underground pulse, weaving an almost mythological dimension of everyday life. “The urban landscape unfolds the stories of contemporary man. I, too, am a part of it, I love it and I refuse to underestimate it. It brings out a dire need in me to capture it. Even when it does not seem beautiful at first sight, it has the power to carve stories,” she mentions.

More than often Olga’s photos have been compared to Wong Kar-Wai’s scenes and frames, where features such as colors and lighting are a far cry from a mere decorative ornament, crafting a self-fueled and autonomous world. “I tend to avoid hard light; I prefer to take photos in the dusk, when natural and artificial are woven together, and their co-existence gives way to a unique ambience. Moreover, I am almost always drawn by stimuli that are not flamboyant or in plain sight. It goes without saying that I interfere with the color palette, aiming to create a contrast-driven ambience,” she goes on to explain.

How are people integrated within her frames? How does she choose to incorporate them in the landscape? In Olga’s work, human figures are usually portrayed as fleeting intermissions, holders of an unspoken truth that is only partially revealed, in discontinuous fragments, urging us to fill in the blanks. According to her: “I seek to incorporate human figures, but I tend to illustrate them merely as silhouettes, hence the intense contrast depicted in the final outcome. Rather than documenting, I am more interested in the sheer emotional force of photography, the ability of an image to trigger emotions while being observed. I am often guided by my subconscious, establishing at a later stage the correlations that led me to go down a particular road.”

Olga Deikou has many collaborations under her belt, including the newspaper Kathimerini, Parallaxi free-press, Taverna Magazine, as well as EasyJet’s magazine Traveller, on the account of a special tribute to Thessaloniki. In addition, she is responsible for the covers of two books, Album of Covers by Babis Argyriou and Gloria, It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas at Leptokarya by Dimitris Koparanis, as well as a cover for Fairweather Friends Records. She has taken part in the photo exhibition “20-40”, held in support of the Greek Association for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, while photos of hers are showcased within the framework of the “Anthropopause” exhibition, hosted by MOMus, at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, which came to a temporary pause due to the measures taken against the spread of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, in the brief period of time the exhibition remained open to the public, Olga Deikou succeeded in attracting glances of admiration by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, during her visit to the Museum on October 27th. Aside from the professional recognition and praise, gradually gaining an international appeal as proven by fubiz’s tribute, the greatest compliment as to Olga’s work is the instinctive affection it evokes to everyone who cherishes Thessaloniki’s secret treasures. For her photos are nothing less than x-rays that delve into an entire city’s soul.

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olga.deikou@gmail.com 

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