Still / Life: When the Familiar Becomes Abstract

Elspeth Diederix
Elspeth Diederix
Hand, 2009

There are certain moments when everyday objects suddenly lose their veil of familiarity and become abstract. The usual meaning that you give these objects is altered and, for a split second, you see them in a different light. I use this moment in time as a starting point for the images in my exhibition Still / Life, currently on display at the Foam Museum in Amsterdam.

Traveling and being immersed in different landscapes has also played an important part in developing my work. It is only when I am out of my everyday life and free from its repetition that I have the space to truly see what is around me. Being in places unknown to me forces those abstract moments to appear more frequently and allows me to concentrate on finding the right location for the right object.

The physical contact of working with the objects themselves is essential in creating the images. Although raindrops made with buttercups or a black dust fog may seem computer manipulated, they have carefully been sewn by hand or created by using a long aperture. I love creating the installations for the photographs: sewing flowers together, covering a motorcycle in pink pigment, creating a cloud from collected plastic bags. Most images take days of preparation and some objects I have with me for months until I find the right location in which to shoot them. By working with the material itself, I can make the objects more animated and the image easier for the viewer to see and believe.

 

Elspeth Diederix

Vanishing Still Life, 2004

Elspeth Diederix

Still Life Milk, 2002

The pieces in the Still / Life exhibition [shown above] were built up slowly by rearranging, adding and deleting objects and consciously choosing the colors for each detail, until I reached the essence of what I wanted to show. I was looking for that moment when you are suddenly overwhelmed by the invasion of objects and how they start to live a life of their own.

Elspeth Diederix was born in Nairobi, Kenya and is currently based in Amsterdam. She received the prestigious Prix de Rome award in 2002. Still / Life is on view at Amsterdam’s Foam Museum until October 26.

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