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BWW Blog: An Interview with Martha Gogakou, Creator of “Dharmadhatu”

I first saw the piece at the 2021 New Media Film Festival®, and I enjoyed speaking to its creator this past weekend. 

BWW Blog: An Interview with Martha Gogakou, Creator of “Dharmadhatu”
Dharmadhatu.
(Courtesy of Martha Gogakou.)

"You are everything." is the line that touched me the most in Martha Gogakou's 16-minute short film, Dharmadhatu. I first saw the piece at the 2021 New Media Film Festival®, and I enjoyed speaking to its creator this past weekend.

Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, Martha Gogakou has an impressive resumé. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University of London Upon Thames, an MA in Audio and Visual Arts from Ionian University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Audio and Visual Arts department at Ionian University. She specializes in digital drawing, experimental video art, live cinema performance, and drawing in front of live audiences.

"Being an artist is my way to understand the world around me." She tells me via Zoom from Greece, 7 hours ahead of my time zone. It is 10 am where I am and 5 pm where she is. "It is the only way to identify myself and not lose my identity."

Gogakou described the New Media Film Festival® to be similar to Paris' famous cafe Le Chat Noir. "[It's a place] where famous artists and scientists used to gather and exchange opinions over art and science." She says, "New Media Film Festival® is the Le Chat Noir of our era, where, with a cup of coffee, artists from all over the world talk about art and exchange opinions on new media and technologies." Learn more about the New Media Film Festival® at newmediafilmfestival.com. (If you're a creative, there's still time to enter for 2022's festival.)

Dharmadhatu was inspired by the universe's origins and her love of the microcosm. The piece explores and questions the extent that human perception is objective through non-pictorial art and narration. "Dharmadhatu means 'sperm of life' in Hindu. It is about the journey of existence, mostly before and not after the soul enters the body." She tells me, "As Rig-Veda mentions, everything that exists in this world, the whole universe, is within us. All we have to do is look inside us for the answers we are searching for. This is also the central axis of my story. Visually, it is the cosmogony, framed by vivid and intense color images in abstract landscapes. The images of rivers, trees, animals, were created from the flow of liquid colors onto the canvas." Gogakou tells me that making the film taught her to let go of control of the art and, instead, enjoy the journey of creating.

She continued: "My love for the microcosm and for what happens on such a small scale led me to create a really small canvas in which we can see a whole new universe. With this piece of art, it is like telling my viewers: Hey! Let me take you by the hand and look through this keyhole! Behind this keyhole, the whole universe is hidden!"

When asked if she has a quote that she lives by, she referenced Nikola Tesla: "My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists." With this in mind, Gogakou remarked: "Inspired by Tesla's quote, I would like to note that an artist shouldn't try to follow the modern art or what is in fashion but rather try to be the medium through which the core will be able to express itself. This is something that nobody can teach us how to do, but if we search inside ourselves, maybe we will be able to find the core; the one that is the same as the universe's core."


Currently, she is working on her new series of cosmogony videos (found on her YouTube channel, linked below), as well as drawing live in theaters or festivals. For these performances, she uses the same technique as seen in Dharmadhatu. The drawing is streamed to the audience using a projector and music; called an "optical meditation". Check out Dharmadhatu on YouTube (here), and check out more of Gogakou's work on her YouTube channel (here), and her website, marthagogakou.com.



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