Zoe Vassiliou: Sleepwalker

Two figures in long white dresses stand holding hands on red, sandy ground, with the red frame of a swing set behind them. The sky is dark and cloudy, only the two figures are illuminated.

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Exhibition Abstract

The series Sleepwalker by Zoe Vassiliou (B.F.A. '24) focuses on the darker emotions we feel, especially the ones that creep out at night. Vassiliou looks for the hallucinatory tension one feels between sleep and wakefulness. As a child, Vassiliou always thought dreams were projections in your brain that would play like a movie on the back of your closed eyelids. Memories laced with bizarre and inexplicable details fueled her teenage imagination, challenging her to distinguish reality from fiction. Ever since photography found her, Vassiliou has channeled those conversations with her subconscious into something cinematic.

Vassiliou wants her photographs to express a state of delirium, mysteries within and beyond the frame, dangers, delights, and superpowers. Her models are photographed mostly after twilight, in dilapidated settings or in locations as simple as their own bedrooms. Vassiliou emphasizes architecture, topography, and situation, and incorporates unique lighting — whether from streetlamps, the moon, or unexpected flashes. She aims for macabre expression and choreography to evoke an almost paranormal or alien-esque storyline. She desires to merge her attraction to the landscape with a sense of being stalked or haunted by the space one finds themselves in. Vassiliou hopes to embrace the more fraught side of her psyche and honor it, because even the challenging and upsetting feelings we have can be channeled and morph into something beautiful. 

Exhibitor Biography

Zoe Vassiliou is a Greek American photographer pursuing a B.F.A. in fine art, as well as minors in film and art history, from Cornell University. Since the age of 14, she has won numerous awards for her photography and exhibited in multiple cities. Her imagery surrounds themes of fantasy narratives and surreal portraiture, encompassing both the brighter and darker sides of the imagination.

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