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Interview with Fine Art Photographer Kalliope Amorphous

Kalliope Amorphous’ haunting, evocative work encompasses conceptual, ethereal self-portraits exploring the unconscious mind, the plurality and elusiveness of the self, the realm of dreams, memory, archetypes, our ephemeral nature, trauma, the deconstruction of identity, and states of isolation and transcendence.

DM: A significant part of your artistic work consists of conceptual self-portraits – particularly diaphanous self-representations. Marina Warner mentions that mirror reflections can be associated with both integration and estrangement; this is also true of self-portraits, through which the dichotomy between self and other can be explored. What impact have your self-portraits and the process of doubling had on your self-image?

KA: That analysis resonates so strongly with my process and it is funny you mentioned it, because I am currently reading “Phantasmagoria” by Marina Warner. It’s always been a very therapeutic but also difficult process for me, specifically because I have always struggled with both my own self image and the themes that I explore (isolation, death, and time). Self portraits allow me to step outside of the miasma of my own mind and look at the emotions that I struggle with as something fixed and tangible. In the past, I used to say that I didn’t view these as self portraits and that I was essentially playing out characters. I think the greatest impact is that, after over a decade of doing this work, I can finally see and admit that all of the expression is a reflection of myself and my inner world.

DM: Do you go through a process of mental self-examination when you give birth to the concepts behind your photographs, or do ideas (sometimes) come to you spontaneously?

KA: It’s almost always spontaneous, because I just love to work that way. Usually I will start with a very basic theme or idea and let it unfold. I try to work from my subconscious and put my analytical mind on pause as much as possible.

DM: There is a certain fluidity in your depictions of the Self as something elusive, that flows and changes shape. This is reminiscent of definitions of identity as a collection of different perceptions, impressions, and thoughts. Virginia Woolf said “I am rooted, but I flow”, which can be interpreted to refer to the fluidity of identity, as if parts of us are fluid, ever shifting, but there is also a more unshakable core, something immutable that makes us who we are. As Hume says, when you enter most intimately into what you call yourself, what do you find? Can you convey that in photographs? To quote Whitman, “There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. This is the thought of identity — yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me.” Do you feel that photographs can capture the essence of your Self, if you believe there is such a thing?

KA: These are wonderful quotes and the quote by Virginia Woolf is one of my favorites. I think that the pursuit of capturing that essence is why many artists are driven to create. For me, I believe that there is an ego and personality based version of self as well as a higher Self that can encompass universal human experience. I try to vacillate between the two of them and hope that somewhere between them there is something that feels like a glimpse of truth, whether my own truth or something more universal. In the same breath, I don’t think it can ever be captured, but the desire to try is what drives the need to create art.

DM: What elements and themes would you say are intrinsic to your shots?

KA: Isolation, separation, the passing of time, loss, birth, decay, female power, and the potential for a light at the end of the tunnel. There always tends to be a darkness, but I think there is also a sense of hope.

DM: Your inner world seems to be your main inspiration; do you have any particular external muses as well?

KA: I am very inspired by music, nature, and animals. These things all elevate my mind and spirit and inspire me in different ways. I am also inspired by the human spirit in general, specifically the struggle to triumph over adversity, to come into its own power, and to love.

DM: Does your artistic identity seep through in everyday life?

KA: There isn’t really a separation at all. My everyday life has been devoted to art for a very long time and I am fortunate that I don’t have to wear any other hats or suppress any aspects of myself.

DM: You have previously emphasised your hyperawareness of the passing of time and the fragile nature of our lives- preoccupations which are also reflected in your work. Do thoughts of the ephemeral nature of human beings depress you, or do you feel reconciled with this aspect of life? Does art have an influence in this sense?

KA: I don’t think I feel reconciled with it. My default nature is a bit melancholy and making art is my attempt to reconcile with all of that. Going into a session to create new work, no matter what the form of art is, always feels like going into a room with death. Roland Barthes’ “Camera Lucida” really resonates with me in the way that he discusses how photography and death co-mingle. It happens when I practice painting or music as well. Whatever the art form is, there are always a lot of intense emotions swirling around. This prevailing sort of existential dread coupled with awe at the beautifully fleeting parts of our existence are what drives me to create.

DM: Some of your self-portraits revolve around inner duality and contradictions. The inner conflict arising from the multitudes within the self has been considered by some artists to be the essence of creativity. What do you think about this?

KA: I think this is very true. I have always felt frustrated by the limits of only being able to express one thing at a time, as if my body is too small to express what I want to express. I think the doubling and twinning that I am constantly drawn to feels like a way to make more room somehow.

DM: What is your view regarding the notion of soul and what do you believe is the role of art in the definition of soul? Do you believe art can lead to spiritual enhancement?

KA: I think that art can bring us very close to the notion of the soul and I feel this is why being in a museum can feel akin to a sort of religious experience to many people. Based on what I have personally experienced,  I believe that the soul is that which contains all possibilities and is enduring. Art can give us a glimpse of that which contains all possibilities and is enduring, so I think they are very intertwined.

DM: Memory is a theme you explore in your photographs as well. How far back do you go in your creative process? Do childhood memories play any role in your work? If not in an obvious way, perhaps only symbolically, as a form of inspiration?

KA: Specific memories from my childhood don’t play a part, but it’s more of a vague interpretation of the emotions connected to those memories or to certain times. I was a quiet, sensitive, creative, bookworm as a child and I never related to other children because I felt like more of an adult. I didn’t fit in at all and was ostracized and bullied, so I think some of the themes of isolation and otherness probably began with those very early memories. I do cull a lot of symbolism from early memories, traumas, and experiences.

DM: Do you ever feel pulled towards a different aesthetic, narrative, or conceptual concern than what has become your signature style?

KA: I think that my signature style for my self portraits will always have a certain aesthetic, because it’s a reflection of my inner landscape and I don’t think I will ever be finished exploring and working out certain themes. I do gravitate toward different aesthetics in my other bodies of visual art though.

I have an ongoing series of New York City street photography, which is a different sort of narrative and aesthetic. Still, it does retain a certain feel that can compare to the mood of my self portraiture work. My street photography seeks to do the same thing my self portraiture does, but through a different narrative. Again, it’s the passing of time, the fleeting beauty, a sense of wistfulness. I also work with glitch art, which is very different aesthetically, but explores themes of synchronicity and decay. Even in my olfactory art, those same themes are there. The aesthetic definitely spills across all of the different art forms that I work in.

DM: What are some other themes you would like to explore in your future work?

KA: It has been a little while since I have done a new series, but as I approach my fifth decade, I find myself thinking a lot about aging, specifically how women confront aging. This is a theme that I have been thinking about lately, because the physical aspect of my self portraiture will naturally change as I age and I have wondered what that might look like or mean for me. I don’t have any idea what that might look like, but I have a feeling it will be an integral theme for me in future work. My Glass Houses series is also something that I have wanted to expand on. The flexible mirrors are something I love to work with and I am definitely going to dive deeper into them in the future, because I feel like I have only scratched the surface.




Interview with Russian fine art photographer and multimedia artist Natalia Drepina: tenebrous emotional portraits

The fine art photography of Natalia Drepina explores human frailty, fears, and melancholy, often in cold, quiet dreamscapes with a tinge of ominousness. Her conceptual realm is reminiscent of dark fairytales, conveyed through a soft, gloomy, painterly aesthetic. Darkness, a sense of sorrow, and lyricism are also the distinguishing marks of her multimedia art piecesshowcasing a mixture of poetry, voice-over, videos, as well as haunting sounds and instrumentals. Whilst her projects are deeply intimatemetaphors for her soul, portraying aspects of the human condition, the poetic message conveyed is disguised, symbolic, just as dream imagery. We had the chance to find out the thoughts behind the art, as well as getting to know Natalia beyond her artistic persona, as she was open to revealing more about her lifestyle and her views on inspiration and mortality.

DM: Where does your fascination with melancholy, sorrow, and the darker aspects of the mind spring from? Is melancholy a dominant emotion in your real life as well as in your artistic world?

ND: I’m truly a melancholy person. My sadness, which has been living in me for many years, has become my friend. I learned to see a special beauty in these emotions and draw inspiration.

DM: What is Natalia like in everyday life otherwise and how do you think your loved ones or people who know you best would describe you? Would they associate you with the same feelings you evoke in your projects or are these feelings purged through your art?

ND: People often tell me that I’m weird. Perhaps this word best describes me. I would also call myself inspired and pensive, because I’m always between two worlds – imagination and reality.
I’m rather unsociable, I prefer solitude and silence, rather than meeting and talking with people. But sometimes I also like talking with animals, birds, insects and plants. Nature is a place where I feel happy and calm. People scare me a little.
Of course, in everyday life I’m not always sad, I’m familiar with the spectrum of human emotions, but nevertheless, even in moments of happiness, I feel a strange longing, as if beauty and happiness also hurt in their own way.
I believe that my soul speaks the language of poetry, because true poetry combines pain and beauty, giving rise to a special feeling, a special vision of the world.

DM: The aesthetic of your photographs is characterised by a sombre and cold colour palette. It seems that you have a special connection to the cold seasons; and you also have a great grasp over the “winter of the soul”. There is a quote by Andrew Wyeth saying “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscapethe loneliness of it-the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath itthe whole story doesn’t show.” This epitomises the enigmatic mood and alluring aesthetic of your photographs as well. Do you feel more inspired during the cold seasons since they are often associated with the emotions underlying your work and do you have a special bond to your birth month?

ND: Yes, I’m a child of November, a child of Autumn. Fall is my favorite season, at this time all my feelings are aggravated, my dreams become more bizarre, I create a lot of photographs, music, poetry, needlework. Also I keep a diary every fall – I call it “The diary of wilting”. Every day I write my thoughts and add some leaves and plants filled with autumn colors and a foreboding of death. Autumn nature fully reflects the landscapes of my soul.
As for winter, it depresses me. I don’t like this white cold world. And I can’t sleep – insomnia visits me. However, most of my music is composed on winter nights.

DM: Do you think your photography is influenced by your native Russian roots and do you feel any emotional connection to your land?

ND: Perhaps the only connection with the Russian mentality that I feel is “Russian toska” – it’s ache of soul, longing with nothing to long for. This feeling is reflected in my works.
I’d call myself a resident of the universe. For me, the homeland is not a city or country, it’s a planet, its forests, fields, rivers, sky. I really love the nature that surrounds me, but I know that I’d also love nature in other parts of the world.

DM: Do the characters in your photographs embody parts of your identity, or are they vivid aspects of your imagination, inspired by the world around you or fiction? How do you breathe life into them?

ND: My characters are woven from fragments of my personality, fiction and dreams. They seem to live in parallel reality and sometimes come to visit me in a dream or wake up in the subconscious.

DM: Some of your projects are eclectic: you create music, poetry, and video art, interweaving these creative threads to give birth to beautiful and evocative atmospheric pieces. Describe your creative process as a multimedia artist.

ND: It is always very difficult for me to describe this process. Because all this happens mostly spontaneously, in a fit of inspiration. I don’t have any clear structure, plan. Sometimes I feel the need to supplement my visual creativity with music, poetry and I just do it.

DM: Do you make a living entirely out of your art or do you have any other side occupations?

ND: Art is my only source of income.

DM: Some of your visual stories—both photographs and videosunfold like dream fragments, often of an unsettling nature. Your art gives the impression of resurrecting elements from the unconscious mindrepressed fantasies, desires, and imagery. Is the visual symbolism borrowed from your own dreams, or nightmares?

ND: Yes, I write in my diary all interesting dreams and nightmares, and then use this material for my art. Dreams really inspire me to work.

DM: Do you believe in the concept of Soul as something separate from the body, and in the immortality of the soul? Some of your photographs have a macabre aspect, do thoughts of death scare and sadden you or do you embrace mortality?

ND: I’m not sure what I believe. It seems to me that the soul exists, but I don’t believe in immortality. It seems to me that death is a black void that will envelop us. It is like a dead dream, without images and visions, when you simply plunge into nothing.
Death does not scare me. Especially my death. I have long accepted and realised the fact of my mortality, and I’m fine with that. I would not want to live forever, to be honest. But the pain of losing close to me creatures—people or animals—scares me.

DM: Your Schizophrenia, your musical project, is such a moody, hypnotising piece of art. On the one hand, as we don’t have an understanding of Russian, we think we would like to hear an English version; on the other hand, Russian is such a beautiful-sounding language, it seems it contributes to the lyricism and the compelling, atmospheric nature of the project. Have you ever thought of creating English versions of your musical poems?

ND: The Russian language allows me to express everything that I feel, because of it I use it more often in my project. For my listeners, I also add translations (especially on Instagram) so that they can understand what this song or dark tale is about.
I also have poems and songs in English. For example:
Inner Demon
Late lamented
Fall asleep
We are dying with falling leaves
The lyrical fatigue

And in the near future I plan to release a book with translations of my poems and dark tales.

DM: What made you decide to go for the title, “Your Schizophrenia”?
ND: Partly it is connected with the person (schizophrenic) I knew and who influenced me in a certain period of my life.
Schizophrenia also includes hearing voices, delusions, social withdrawal. Your Schizophrenia is a character living in my subconscious, as if I transmit her thoughts, whispers, tunes, fears and sorrows.

DM: Do you believe an artist has to face the darker side of life and of the mind, being guided by chaos, darkness, and/or sorrow, in order to create valuable art, or can worthwhile art be generated by a peaceful mind, or in peaceful moments infused with happiness too?

ND: I think that art can be born by darkness and chaos, but also in peaceful moments. I think that each of the emotions can be used as inspiration for poems, paintings, photographs, music. Creativity is multifaceted. What is more important here is what inspires You, makes You feel. It all depends on preferences as well. In my soul, dark art and painful beauty find a greater response. It is like that strange feeling before the storm, when the breath stops and the heart beats so loudly…

Images © Natalia Drepina


Mira Nedyalkova’s Underwater Photography

A selection of artworks from the stunning uncanny underwater photography collection by Bulgarian visual artist and fine art photographer Mira Nedyalkova.



Mira’s work depicts the beautiful facets of pain and sadness in fluid forms, whilst linking water with sensuality and exploring erotic and emotional themes.

Water symbolism always makes us think of regeneration, purification, and catharsis – a reflection of the beginning and the end. Mira emphasises the dual dimension of water, symbolising sin and purity, as well as pleasure and innocence. The aquatic element has both generative and destructive powers; it can be life-giving and apocalyptic. Her models are depicted as otherworldly beings, seemingly frail, yet also dark and enigmatic. Water is also the essential element contributing to the surreal aesthetic of the pictures, since it changes the light, colour, and shapes captured in unexpected ways.

Mira Nedyalkova is not interested in pure photography – as opposed to many photographers who praise raw analogue photographs for capturing unaltered moments, she recognises the creative and transformative power of post-processing and digital editing as a way of enriching photography, of creating something new, conveying an emotion, and telling a story. As a former painter, she now sees digital editing as a way of getting closer to painting again.


Like many artists, Mira believes emotion is an essential part of a remarkable piece of art. Her view is epitomised in her stunning, memorable photographs, often depicting expressive, intense characters found in captivity. Other recurring characteristics of her artistic vision are a preference for nudity, the eerie beauty of nature, enigmatic, fragile-looking animals, and subtle sexuality.


Laura Makabresku’s Dark, Uncanny Fairy Tales

Uncanny Portrait Crow Eye

Polish self-taught fine art photographer Kamila Kansy, known as Laura Makabresku, draws inspiration from her deep, intimate connection to her native land – which she perceives as a mysterious realm of sinister fairy tales, in order to design a tragic world revolving around death, obscure eroticism, suffering, and human frailty. The suggestive name of her artistic identity conjures up the darkness portrayed in her haunting photographs which seem to reflect the Freudian uncanny through their eerie and strangely familiar quality.

Stepping away from digital cameras, she embraces the analogue practice with a soft painterly style with dark undertones. To create a gloomy, glacial, and morbid atmosphere, the colours used are often desaturated dark blue and green and the photographs are intentionally underexposed. Some photographs adopt the technique of superimposition to achieve a ghostly aesthetic and induce the impression that there is always something morbid looming within the frame – a dormant presence about to be unleashed.

  • icy portrait fox
  • snowy portrait fox

The distinctive imagery depicting Laura Makabresku’s artistic world can be compared to a dream: it has multiple layers, inviting the observer to begin an internal exploration. Her pictures should not only be admired aesthetically, but also felt from within. The shots are like collections of impulses, raw emotions, objects filled with hidden symbolism displayed in a beautifully chaotic, surreal manner which often involves strikingly unexpected combinations of elements such as dead animals, naked bodies, blood, knives, ants amplified in size, ravens pictured indoors, and human bodies with animal masks. The uncanny is ever present in this artistic realm: from dead birds coming out of the mouth of a woman collapsed on the autumnal earth, a naked body covered in moss, guarded by a mysterious fox, a sorrowful girl’s languid body enveloped by a goat’s hide, a pensive woman touching a bowl filled with blood, upon which a little bird rests, a touching portrait of a girl embracing a fox in a glass coffin, eyes covered by pressed flowers or positioned dangerously close to a raven. All of her entrancing visual creations are filled with lyricism. In addition to these transparent motifs and compositions, the uncanny also lies in the homely atmosphere of the photographs, as well as the strange aesthetic quality reminiscent of macabre fairy tales.

Influenced by Francesca Woodman, her black and white portraits of the naked female body convey a duality between the calm, beautiful, graceful vulnerability and simplicity of the nude body sight and the undertones of death, darkness, emptiness, isolation, and dark sexuality. Through self-portraits, she embraces her fears and anguish and explores themes like autopsy, witchcraft, love, and a deep connection with animals, mortality, and the evil that lurks within her. The universe she creates makes the viewers look within and be inspired to embrace their own dark instincts and fantasies.