Dareos Khalili, Uncovering the Silence
Author: Salwa Benaissa
Dareos Khalili is an artist who weaves photography and film with fragments of poetry and prose. The 25-year-old artist is part Greek and part Iranian, and currently lives in between Prague and Berlin.
In one written piece he openly ponders: “Do you think that there are people who can fake intimacy with everyone?”
On taking a look at his work, one might wonder this about the artist himself. His visual portfolio meanders between digital and analog, with much of his photographic series centring on portraits of a raw, personal nature.
“In school, my biggest problem was taking pictures of people,” he recounts. “I would never take pictures of people. It was always details or some landscapes. At some point, I identified [it was because] I was too shy to do it, and so I pushed myself to start taking portraits.”
Khalili studied at Stereosis school of photography in Thessaloniki, Greece, before moving to work and live in London. He then became drawn to the Czech Republic through the combination of an art school programme (he is studying film directing at FAMU) and a cultural fascination with Central Europe.
Beyond his attraction to a refreshed perspective that living in a culturally unfamiliar place offers, Khalili sees a paternal link that leaves him rooted, claiming the Central European culture reminds him of his father’s character (“I enjoy the detachment.”). Khalili also credits his father’s photography hobby as his introduction to the artform.
“[My father] always had a camera with him,” he recalls, “and we had this inside joke where every time he loaded the film, I would find the camera and take a selfie so he would find it later.”
But it was only as a teenager, when his psychotherapist recommended he take up the craft seriously, that he began to teach himself composition. In many ways, there remains an underlying psychotherapeutic element to Khalili’s work, with the images acting as a portal into the true nature of the subjects themselves. Each and every photograph bleeds authenticity and intimacy.
Over the years, Khalili has exhibited in group shows across Greece, Canada and Australia, of which the most notable show, ’Home’, was curated by Magnum photographer Jacob Aue Sobol and his editor Sun Hee Engelstoft.
Yet even after three years of taking portraits consistently, Khalili admits he still finds the process difficult: “I might want to photograph someone and then it might take three months for me to ask him or her.”
This is not surprising given the intimate methods he employs, where he dedicates an entire day to a single model, inviting himself early in the morning to their homes and spending the day getting to know them, asking them to share things they like in their private space. Khalili describes this as a very draining procedure but appreciates the personal bond that comes out of it. He considers if his portraits may even be a “trick to get a little closer to the person I chose to photograph”.
On whether he aspires to maintain a certain aesthetic across his work, he only cites his commitment to using available light. As for the rest: “It’s more a case of intuitive development. You make choices that come from your intuition and they develop and progress. But then you have to analyse your intuitions. If you start taking pictures, and you’re always taking pictures of women’s breasts then you have to ask yourself: Why?”
The self-reflection certainly does come across throughout his body of work, which he titles To cover the silence. He describes the work as personal and doesn’t stick to a specific medium for the moment, although the bulk of the work featured is photographic.
He equally shies away from labelling himself, instead preferring to experiment continuously.
He explains: “I think it’s a bit dated to say that you are one thing per se; to say you are a ‘photographer’. Some people are, and very successfully, and fair enough.
“[But] in a sense, To cover the silence is more my diary. In your diary, sometimes you print some pictures and stick them in, sometimes you write, sometimes you sketch, so that’s what it is now.”
We would love to see Khalili’s work exhibited physically in the near future, but over the past year he has decided to shift focus towards developing his style and themes: “I don’t understand the craze people have to show their work everywhere from day one. To develop your personal work is a long process.”
Khalili is uncertain of where his art will take him next, as he wanders between Berlin and Prague and sets himself up for a move back to the UK to continue his film studies, in the pursuit of exploring his own creative approaches. He asserts: “I certainly don’t have the mania of overexposing my work at this point.”
Well, we secretly hope that mania will begin to fester soon. In the meantime, selected pieces from To cover the silence are available on his tumblr page.
Artist’s web: http://dareoskhalili.tumblr.com