A Conversation in the Dark Maria Djelebova | Ongoing project | 2018 ~

The series of photographs entitled “Conversation in the Dark”, which I have been working on for a long time, consists of several series with varying numbers of photographs per series. The whole series is united by a common title, borrowed from a story by a favorite writer of mine, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. I have shared one of the series on the website. The rest of the series is being finalized, and I hope to complete this project by the end of 2024.

Maria Djelebova

From the Object towards the Subject

The most common definition of photography seems to be "catching the moment". Photography is also a self-portrait of the photographer, but it could also be a "theft" of the identity/image of the person photographed, and some kind of peculiar rearrangement of personas.
There is also a kind of photography that tells a story, of possible acts which reveals the hidden potential of the photographed object – sometimes frightening, sometimes in warning or, perhaps, cruelly realistic.
Through a selection of objects and acts affecting them Maria Dzhelebova tells us stories – parables of our personal and social existence, but also warns us against possible manipulation and conflict.

Chess pieces

The portrait of chess pieces which narcissistically look at their reflections in a mirrorlike surface, standing and fallen in an arranged chaos is a portrait of a game in which victory and defeat are conditional and affect only the vanity of the player. They are frozen like a photo of a theatrical troupe, but they carry hidden aggression. However, for Maria Dzhelebova this frozen aesthetic is not enough. Setting fire to the chess pieces destroys the initial impression and they turn into real burning or burnt victims of wars, aggression and glowing coals of human passion. Maria has photographed human drama. The chess pieces turn into individual or group portraits of women in black, not on the chess board but on the ground, as the checkered areas of the board are burnt and there are no more clear boundaries and zones – they all have the scorch marks of fire. They are beautiful in their colourlessness and tragic as they are no more needed. The game gets linked to cruelty in reality, and the photographs suggest that political games played on a symbolic map can become tragic reality.

Maria Dzhelebova wrenches everything out of the objects in all her photographs, seeing beyond what is visible and sharing all her visions. She does not hide her precision and persistence in revealing hidden symbolism, she is not afraid to show her anxiety and vulnerability as well as her honesty.

Text from Katrin Sarieva