Still life is a visualized form of a quiet genre of photography and painting that levels its gaze to things.
The course material gave many examples of photographers that avoid the use of human figure in order to communicate truths and stories about humanity. I was inspired by photographer Penny Klepuszewska who was mentioned in the course and I will write about in here. I was also inspired by the photographer Takashi Yasumura in his photographic series “Domestic Scandals 2005) while searching in this area.
Klepuszewska Focused on life in old age and issues regarding isolation and loneliness in her series “Living Arrangements”. She explores the space and objects that we surround ourselves with. With her process of collection and collaborations and eye-catching photographs she managed to create both the real and fiction world.
Klepuszewska managed to trace the human existence of the elderly people in the homes or shelters they end up in living alone and it becoming their island of isolation. She focused on things rather than humans carefully composing her photographs to represent domestic interiors and daily home life.
The carefully folded blanket or shawl on the chair, the individual plate with spoon, the folded hands on the table, the singular red chair and bag. All of the things that gives us the feeling of calmness, isolation, separation and trembling feeling of loneliness.
Klepuszewska also payed attention to lighting, colours, shapes and backgrounds which added beauty to the images and made it more appealing such as the blue accent colour of the hanger in the wardrobe, the light blue cup against the similar muted earth colors of the brown objects, the minimalist capture of the light bulb and red table, the depth of field in the folded hands on the table and the empty plate with spoon. The background is always black and dark which helped focus on the objects and added to the feeling of isolation.
The series left me with sadness and a bitter feeling and made me understand the feeling of the elderly people without them being in the photographs. It shows how the focus on the overlooked and the unimportant objects can evoke feelings and memories and serve to remind one of meaningful things.
Takashi Yasumura is a photographer who lives and works in Tokyo. His work “Domestic Scandals” reframe our attention to the interior domestic object world and quality of everyday life which we do not pay much attention to. It proves that they are no longer familiar when presented in photographs.
The photographer demands us to look at the banal aspect of the domestic interior such as doors, watering hose, a pink stapler, rubber gloves etc and offer their materiality to us so we can notice what’s compelling about them, and what might be odd or unusual.
Domestic Scandals project does not generate a narrative when put as collective images instead they ask us to view things and turn them into objects by Yasumura’s attention to the traditional and modern, the useful and the decorative, the patterns, texture and quality of the surrounding surfaces.
Bibliography / References:
Churchill , L. (2011). Occupation: ruin, repudiation, revolution: constructed space conceptualized. Abingdon: Routledge.
Curtain University. Domestic Things: Takashi Yasumura’s interiors. [online]. IDEA. Available from: http://idea-edu.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/P45.pdf [Accessed 19 June, 2017].
University of the Arts London. The Sproxton Award of Photography: Penny Klepuszewska [online]. University of the Arts London. Available from: http://www.sproxtonphotographyaward.org/winners/penny-klepuszewska/ [Accessed 19 June, 2017].