The emotions come from the same place

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Every year, the europalia festival sheds light on the cultural heritage of an invited country. This year’s Georgia edition kickstarts with an exhibition at BOZAR on the avant-garde period. We had a stroll through the exhibition with Georgian queer activist and artist Egoo Dallas; we discussed experimentation, queerness and identity.

Hey Egoo! Can you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Egoo Dallas, I’m from Georgia. First of all, I’m a gay activist. I left my country four years ago because if you are queer you have no rights there. I’m a painter and a photographer, but I also made a lot of craft art. I love kitsch art. I made collages, sculptures and all sorts of different things. I love experimenting with art. 

Another big thing in my life is that I’m a collector. I collect second-hand stuff, holy paraphernalia; crosses, icons, toys–I love toys!–miniature sculptures, plushies… Sometimes it’s a problem because I collect everything [laughs]. I go to a lot of flea markets and second-hand shops. My art is recycled art. I never use anything new, even canvases. I’m very proud about this! Why would I buy new things? 

In Georgia, I never had the chance to develop my art. When I was a teenager, I left my house because I was queer. I always needed money, I was always working and I never made art because I needed money. I had a small exhibition but–you know–it’s always fucking money money money. I knew what I wanted to do before coming to Belgium and now I can. I’m an artist, I know who I am. I’m not a bartender, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a doctor, I’m an artist. I want to make art. I’m a creator.

I’m an artist, I know who I am

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39b9faf707f948903ad_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego04.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39b30c130e5737b3d26_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego01.webp"/>

You seem to be interested in religious and childish objects. Can you tell me more about that?

Georgia is a very orthodox country. There are a lot of fanatic people. So this mix of crosses and toys comes from this religious trauma. It’s really about my childhood. I don’t know why, but I made so many crosses this year! My last exhibition was at Pink Screens. My artworks were oil on canvas. It was amazing, I’m so proud of myself! I’m working everyday and I work to be able to show everyone. What’s the point of creating if you can’t show it? I had four exhibitions in Brussels: twice in Brussels Gallery Weekend, once at Pink Screens and there was also that one time we did an exhibition in an underground space. It was my first exhibition and I met so many queer artists there. I like underground spaces, kitschy and ugly things.

What did you think of the exhibition? Is there an artist that stood out to you?

I’ve already seen the exhibition. What struck me the most was the works of Petre Otskheli. He is also a queer man who paints. He’s very different, stylish. That’s the link I found with him. He is always talking about freedom and pro-European values. He was ahead of his time and really was like someone from the future, doing things that weren’t done before. He was breaking stereotypes. I think that our art, visually speaking, is not really similar. However, the concept of freedom, being out of the box, that’s the link I found between me and him. The emotions come from the same place.

I think that our art, visually speaking, is not really similar. However, the concept of freedom, being out of the box…. That’s the link I found between me and him

 <img class="editorial-image" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39bba54ee05a0885b3c_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego03.webp"/>

So you relate to this desire to break free from societal expectations. What I found interesting is that some of these artists were trying to do that while simultaneously reclaiming a Georgian identity…

I don’t really relate to that. I was born in Georgia, but I don’t feel like I’m from GeorgiaI’m a very cosmopolitan boy. I don’t care about where I was born. I don’t have thoughts like ‘it’s my country! I need to be patriotic!’ I’m not this kind of guy. My country doesn’t need me and I don’t need it. It’s another life, they don’t understand me and so why should I relate it back to Georgia?

I’m a very cosmopolitan boy. I don’t care about where I was born

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39b983bf1761a4c288a_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego05.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39c5218ee8e2a62efd6_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego02.webp"/>

And does this impact how you perceive Georgian art?

I find Georgian avant-garde artists very powerful. I find that it can be very queer. Not literally, but if you look at the art; feminine male subjects, down to the pose and the outfits… It’s really amazing.

<img class="editorial-image" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/6579b39b8af34002e3f06afd_EgooDallas(c)NickMoonsDC_Bozar_Ego07.webp"/>

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @egoodallass / @europalia / @bozarbrussels <br> europalia.be </div></div>

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