Are the banal objects of our consumerist world to be equated with the opulently arrayed fruits, blooms and other vanitas motifs familiar to us from the painterly still lifes of Old Masters? What is it that underpins our 400-year fascination with the genre? And why are contemporary artists rediscovering the still life for themselves in the medium of photography at this very precise moment in time? What do still lifes have to say to us today about our habits and our very own existence?
With a selection of international and Austrian artists ranging from Jan Groover to Christopher Williams, Leo Kandl and Harun Farocki, the large theme-based photo graphy exhibition highlights the historical development strands that have led to today’s radical re-examination of the genre as a new field of experimentation for artistic expression. Above all, the exhibition featuresa younger generation of artists who are reflecting our very own ‘present’ in their photographs.
They do so by precisely perceiving and meticulously examining the world of objects that surrounds us, with all its peculiarities, beauty, and ugliness. While some have chosen aggressively to combine highend consumer products with garbage and trash, others focus on things utterly over looked: worlds of objects that act as the traces of our everyday world with an often idiosyncratic beauty – which is precisely why they reward a closer examination. As we slow down the pace with which we contemplate them, these new still lifes counterbalance the glut of digital images that submerge our everyday lives, creating spaces in which our quotidian objects encounter things both novel and unfamiliar.