“Chrysalis” is a portrait series aiming to recognize and celebrate the individuality of refugee women living in Greece. Six women from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are portrayed in golden costumes made with emergency blankets. The portraits and accompanying texts draw out their experiences and vastly different migration pathways, while the sittings offer a physical space of their courageous expression in the shared destination of Athens.
More than 1.3 million people fleeing conflict, violence and persecution have traveled through Greece during the past five years, undertaking perilous sea journeys in search of safety and a better life in Europe. But the closure of the Balkan borders and a deal reached between the EU and Turkey trapped some 60,000 refugees in Greece, most languishing in squalid conditions.
Driven by the symbolism of the color gold, I repurposed the material of the foil emergency blanket for the sittings. In doing so, a material that has become synonymous with the refugee journey becomes a garment. Each dress, created in collaboration with designer Guram Chachanidze, is an interpretation of the women’s spirit, taking in consideration their cultural characteristics or preferences.
The term chrysalis refers to a nymph within its final transformative stage from larva to butterfly. It is a moment of great change for the species, still bodied in a golden cocoon and ready to unfold new wings. “Chrysalis” is an attempt to put the refugee women in the spotlight and honor their mental, physical and emotional beauty.