2020 - Ongoing
“Every joke is a tiny revolution,” George Orwell wrote in 1945.
My name is Daniela Groza, I am a photographer and drive a taxi in New York to support my work. I identify as non-binary and am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was born in Romania in 1983 and have been living in the USA for 20 years, going on 8 years in New York. Until August I have been shooting strictly on medium format film, the project I am showing you is my first foray into digital photography since 2006. My work can be seen on danielagroza.com, queero.org, an archival website dedicated to Romanian queer women and woman-identifying individuals and their stories, shot and recorded in 2018, and bekindforreal.org.
I am an activist ~ we must keep fighting for equity, for minorities, for women, for people of color, for immigrants: in order to do so efficiently, a humorous break is needed. I have been playfully taking this kind of self-portrait ever since I founded BE KIND FOR REAL in 2014, a project that raised $14,000 in donations from the sale of $35 t-shirts. For lack of a marketing strategy, in order to attract clientele I started photographing myself with the side mission to inspire and challenge social norms that used to weigh me down, a performance in authenticity if you will; I am also curious about the marriage between an artist’s private life to its public avatar.
Upon completion of a self-portrait workshop in early August, my desire to connect humor and whimsy with photography solidified. Humor is a tool that can break down barriers, it can (re)build confidence and help deal with trauma in unexpected ways. It can replenish depleted energy, it can relax the tired mind & body. Cheeky, guileless, brazen, frank, alive, political and ready, these are all allies to the type of image I seek to seize. I often think of Francesca Woodman's work, what it would have looked like if healing had been accomplished. Stories of despair must always be accompanied by stories of the spirit's revival, and unfortunately the latter's voice has only begun emerging.
David Levi Strauss affirmed in ‘Between the eyes’ that joy is the ultimate subject to photograph. Having access to a digital camera since late August, I kept busy during the quarantine, so as not to lose touch with reality and my mind. They have been medicine to an otherwise tragic time in history.