The Philadelphia Art Alliance 

Summer 2010

 

Vanitas or arrangements of symbolic elements comprised mostly of carefully crafted worldly goods and nature's bounty overflow in Dutch still-life paintings.  Flowers sit with skulls, books let pipes rest upon them, dinner plates and ceramic vessels give us a glimpse of the domestic-ness that these frozen historic moments capture.

 

For "Stilled Life", this concept is combined with that of Tableau Vivant, a form of living still-life or living picture comprised of carefully posed models, that do not speak or move, displayed just for the eyes. Here it is just she that posed for the lens, the result is here for the eyes of all. Looking upwards toward the light, as she drips red, her dress is drenched in the color of life.  The most beautiful ruby red.

 

But she is not really there, only her image, a memory of her since the one we see does not breath.  Breath is life, if it is not present there is no life.  Life is ostensibly stilled between breaths.  She is stilled, so that we may observe her and all that surrounds.  She reveals her secret as she glances towards her thoughts, it takes only a moment then she is stilled again, both in pose and in her projection. Voyeurs of the photograph of life.  

 

In the 19th century, before radio, film, and television such a device provided a form of entertainment, sometimes more towards the erotic nature.  In many instances such productions were staged to recreate famous paintings and became an approach to picture-making by early photographers circa 1840's.

 

Models, essentially living statues of symbolizing the beauty of human form and life, that pose akin to a mannequin refer to a mime artist (fyi such a performer aka a "mummer" Philadelphia!), who's entire objective is to fool the viewer by silently manipulating belief.

 

Still mannequin modeling .....meditating......resting.......while doing so.  The mind calms as experience of frozen time passes, permitting the imagination to flow with experiences with life, recollections, and visions of a beautiful future.

 

 

Still life, 

a moment in time

a frozen photographic image

spelling out the past 

our present

and all of our futures

 

it is no longer real

a memory

of what was

which then becomes its own

kind of life

a stilled one.

 

 

Over 600 individual works in ceramic, chrome and vinyl adorn the walls of the Art Alliance have been brought together for this arrangement of image and object.  Ceramic works are made from over eight different types of porcelain and china and were created/produced over the past 10 years in a variety of studios including the Clay Studio, the CandyCoated Center, Kohler Company, and the European Ceramic Work Center.  The vinyl pieces started as small 2" x 4" ink drawings that were cut via computer technology.

 

One recollection in the flow.

The pink salmon swims against the stream to spawn.  They do so naturally.  I happened upon this natural phenomenon quiet innocently and was amazed at the innate struggle to procreate, i was even more so seeing the result of such instinctual trial

 

The gold fish swim circuitously in the fish bowl/small pond and can be thought of as a metaphor of life and the constraints of socio-economic existance. 

 

I have lived in holland/the netherlands for 2 periods of more than three months at at time. While there i was able to really look at these paintings, have lunches with the same table settings, and was actually able to create my own objects for future photographic subjegation.  Fascinating oroboros.