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The AGAFIA Box
Fey: marked by an otherworldly air or attitude, able to see into the future, visionary.
Agafia is all of that but then skips past the boundaries of this, the closest word I could find to encompass her, and shades well into 'possessed' and 'passionate' as well. Her work is an elaborate escape from a painful life. It is at once child-like and then deep and dark, an animal healing its wounds with play.
The difference between ordinary snap-shots and fine art photographs is this: snap shots are 1:1 reproductions of whatever was in front of the camera which for the most part are possessed of no ambition to be more. Fine art photographs begin with that act of reproduction and then ascend to the level of metaphor. They are about something more than just the subject of the picture. The movement is from the specific – that-child-there for example - to the general - childhood, innocence, etc.
Some fine art photographers ask us with their work to understand their metaphoric language directly from the evidence of reality. Others, like Agafia are asking the work itself to explain them to themselves. As noted above, her dream-like images are persistently playful, but I see in them a darker under-current. An adult who invests in child-like fancy is often regretting what is lost – possessions, time, love itself? I am being, subjective, of course, but that is what art asks of us. What does this mean, why was it done?
Agafia was born in Leningrad but has since moved permanently to Berlin where she bought her first Polaroid camera and where she continues her career in the fine arts. Her work is exhibited widely in Europe and the US. The dreams her images reveal are not random, structure-less. One by one they are drawing us an image of the result of what was previously an unhappy life. To take and own and use what hurt one most is as perfect an errand in art as one could ask. Thus she is not the victim of her past but its owner who will make of it what she will. She wins.
Sint Niklass, Belgium 2014