utorak, 4. rujna 2012.

Kimberly Witham - Fotografski pogreb životinja zgaženih na cestama

Mrtve prirode s mrtvim životinjama. Duhovno-lirična taksidermija za zidne tapete. "Ironični formalizam" za viktorijanska domaćinstva.

SPIRITUAL ROADKILL — Kimberly Witham’s Post-Mortem Photography

by Samantha Anne Carrillo

Photographer Kimberly Witham is a self-professed “ironic formalist” whose work “induce[s] tension between presentation and subject matter.” Witham’s lens captures animals generally considered “neither beautiful nor precious.” Her subjects are taken before their time; Witham retrieves roadkill on her commute to work through New Jersey’s suburban sprawl and documents the untimely deaths of familiar animals.
In an interview with Ravishing Beasts, Witham explained what she does with the animals’ corpses after the lens cap is replaced. “The animals in my photographs are all buried in the woods in my backyard.  I try to give them a respectful end.” In artist statements, Witham says she is attempting to “capture something lost” and expose the  “inherent tension between humans and nature.”
Witham’s images juxtapose both the florid trappings of suburban womanhood and minimalist aesthetics with the remains of victims of engineered sprawl. Scroll on to view images culled from her Domestic Arrangements, Transcendence, and Deertown series. Visit the artist’s website here to see more.

 Domestic Arrangements
Kimberly Witham : start

 Kimberly Witham : next page

I have always been interested in art, but I wasn't quite sure where to go with it. As an undergraduate, I studied art history. After that, I briefly attended graduate school in art history. At that point, I realized that I wanted to make art rather than researching, writing, etc.
I had always been drawn to photography so I started there. Initially, I was self taught. I saved some money and set up a small darkroom. After a 10 year hiatus from school, I returned for an MFA in photography. Although I took a circuitous route to get to where I am, I find that my background in art history strongly informs my current studio practice.
 Kimberly Witham : next page

I had been teaching myself for a couple of years when I got a job in a professional photo lab. Although I admit I didn't much like the job, I had some really great coworkers. My supervisor had recently upgraded to a Hasselblad camera and she generously gave me her old Yashica G twin lens reflex.
Moving to medium format (and the square!) from 35mm was a real revelation and lead my work in a direction I don't think it would have gone. I ultimately used that camera to shoot the portfolio which got me accepted to grad school. Several years ago, I gave that camera to a really talented student of mine. I can only hope it does for her what it did for me.

Kimberly Witham : next page
Photography is definitely a solitary pursuit for me and I like it that way, I don't do any commercial work. In fact, if you look at my work, you will quickly come to realize that I almost never photograph people. I am very social in general, but I really like to work alone when it comes to photography.
In the past 5 years or so, my work has really focused on the relationship between humans and the natural world. The one thing which links all of my work - past and present - is that I am really a formalist at heart. No matter what I photograph, I really need the final image to be beautiful. . .

Kimberly Witham : next page

Lately, I have been looking at the work of a German  photographer/ sculptor/ installation artist named Thorsten Brinkmann. Part of my obsession probably comes from the fact that it is clear to me viewing his work that he is strongly influenced by art history - his work references artists from Vermeer to Mondrian to DeChirico. His use of light, color, pattern and found objects is really inspiring to me as well. He constructs scenes in order to photograph them. I also think Laura Letinsky is a genius. Her still life images are so minimal and so rich at the same time.
Although I am a photographer, I often find myself looking to painters for inspiration. Lately I have been looking at the work of Jean Baptiste Oudry and Jan Weenix. Both of these artists painted still lifes which incorporate dead animals in some way. In this case, animals after the hunt. Many of Oudry's paintings are particularly bizarre - which I really like.
Other than the artists I mentioned above, I find that my work is inspired by my life. I moved to New Jersey from NYC about 5 years ago. I started seeing so much roadkill - it ended up creeping into my work.

Kimberly Witham : next page

At the moment, I make a living by teaching. I am currently an Asst. Professor of Photography at Bucks County Community College. Teaching is very challenging but it also has some really great benefits. I spend my days with students - many of them are very talented and really excited about photography. I can't help but feed off that energy. I also need to stay on my toes. I need to keep current on everything from technology to trends in the medium. As an added bonus, I have a very long summer vacation. From mid May until late August I spend my days in the studio and the garden.
I exhibit my work regularly and often I am lucky enough to sell a piece or two.  Not a bad life really!

 Kimberly Witham : next page

My work is strongly influenced by natural history dioramas, cabinets of curiousity, still life painting and other manifestations of man's attempt to categorize, comprehend and ultimately control the natural world.
The photographs in this series pay homage to traditional still life painting while underscoring the inherent tension between humans and nature.
While Vanitas paintings refer to the futility of earthly pleasure, the photographs in this series question the consequences of our domestic comforts. Unlike traditional still lifes, which often combined domestic objects with items from foreign locales, all of the items in my photographs are found close to home. The objects in these photos include personal possessions, flowers and vegetables from my garden, and birds and animals found by the roadside. I arrange these items into ephemeral constructions that are simultaneously whimsical and grotesque.
While these images are inspired conceptually by the Vanitas tradition, formally they are more akin to contemporary home and style magazines. In the pages of these magazines, products are arranged in clinical perfection. They promise relaxation, fulfillment and simplicity if we only buy one more thing. In contrast, my arrangements highlight both the promise of suburban comfort and the aftermath of our continued consumption.

Kimberly Witham : return
I guess it is cliche, but I would say just be true to yourself. If you make work you think others will want to see and not the work you want to see it will be clear in the final result.
If you don't love your work, why should anyone else?
You will find more work by Kimberly Witham at: http://www.kimberlywitham.com/

Kimberly Witham

Kimberly Witham was born and raised in Wakefield, Rhode Island; she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the University of Massachusetts, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and Women"s Studies from Duke University.
While her photographs are strongly influenced by her studies in Art History, she is also interested in exploring the natural world. Her series featured below, Domestic Arrangements, combine those interests in fanciful tableaus of color, pattern, texture, and wildlife. The result is a series of charming still lifes that allow Kimberly to create her own sense of the world.
Kimberly's work has been exhibited at the Jersey City Museum (Jersey City, NJ), Chashama ABC (New York, NY) , The Light Factory (Charlotte, NC) and The Houston Center for Photography (Houston, TX). Kimberly teaches photography and art history at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA. She has several upcoming exhibitions, a two person show with sculptor Keith Lemley this February-April at 1708 Gallery in Richmond, VA that features images from her Transcendence project. Several images from Domestic Arrangements will be included in the Working in Wonder show at the Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University (NJ) this January/February. The show examines the influence of the cabinet of curiosity on contemporary artistic practice.

My work is strongly influenced by natural history dioramas, cabinets of curiousity, still life painting and other manifestations of man’s attempt to categorize, comprehend and ultimately control the natural world.

Images from Domestic Arrangements

The photographs in this series pay homage to traditional still life painting while underscoring the inherent tension between humans and nature. While traditional Vanitas paintings referred to the futility of earthly pleasure, the photographs in this series question the consequences of our domestic comforts.

Sixteenth and Seventeenth century still lives often combined domestic objects with items from foreign locales; the content of my photographs are found much closer to home. As I collect these items, I arrange them into ephemeral constructions which are simultaneously whimsical and grotesque. These idiosyncratic arrangements highlight both the promise of suburban comfort and the aftermath of our continued consumption.

I am an ironic formalist. My photographs induce tension between presentation and subject matter. These images use the structured visual language of formalism to investigate subjects that are beautiful, sentimental or comic. The images in the Aunt Dot series encompass all three of these sensations.

Images from Aunt Dot's House

Aunt Dot was one of those “aunts” related through love and history rather than through blood. She had been my grandmother’s best friend and neighbor and my siblings and I had known her our entire lives. She had no children and we had become surrogate grandchildren of sorts. On our regular visits to her house, she served us store-bought sugar cookies and cold Coca Cola in glass bottles. We happily devoured these offerings before wandering down the rickety stairs to the bay, high on sugar and caffeine, to skip stones and search for hermit crabs. My mother and Aunt Dot would sit at the kitchen table, drinking instant coffee and chatting as they looked out over the water. My regular trips to Aunt Dot’s continued until I left home for college. They remain as some of my fondest memories of childhood.

My Aunt Dot died in 2006. Shortly after her death, my mother, my sister and I went to her house to somehow say goodbye. Aunt Dot’s house had been suspended in time. All was as it had been the day she left for the hospital after suffering a stroke. We wandered through the rooms of the house in stunned silence. In an attempt to capture something lost, I created these photographs.



from "transcendence"

Kimberly Witham

New Jersey photographer Kimberly Witham just sent me a few images of her work.  These animals are not taxidermied but roadkill, which she picked up on her commute to work.  Her images are so beautiful and she finds so many dead animals that I had to ask her a few questions about her work.

You say you collect your animals by the side of the road?  Where do you live to find so many animals in such beautiful condition?
I live in High Bridge, New Jersey which is in the Northwest part of the state near the PA border.  I commute from my home to Newtown, PA for work several times per week.  (I teach at Bucks County Community College).  I have come to realize that I live and work on the border where the intense suburban sprawl of both the Philadelphia and New York suburbs begins to give way to preserved farmland and some amount of woods and wilderness.  It seems to me that there is an inordinately high roadkill incidence in this area.  As far as finding animals in good condition - I guess I am always looking.  I can spot a dead sparrow out of the corner of my eye while driving 60 mph.
What do you do with the animals once you are finished with the photography?

The animals in my photographs are all buried in the woods in my backyard.  I try to give them a respectful end.
 Your earlier work resonates with the silent power of things and the images are totally absent of animal life (human or otherwise). How did you find yourself to begin working with animals?
This is a tougher question to answer.  I will start by saying that I have never been interested in photographing people and I have always been an "animal person."  When I moved to NJ from New York, I was horrified by the number of dead animals I saw by the roadside.  It began with the deer.  During the fall mating season, I generally see anywhere from 3-6 dead deer per day on my way to work.  In this area, they have road crews who spend the day picking up the corpses.  The next day, there are more.  I began photographing the deer on site as a sort of catalog or pseudo-scientific study or census.  The rest of the work developed from that point.

While I have a strong interest in animals and the natural world, I have never wanted to be a nature photographer in the traditional sense.  When I began working with road kill, I realized that the bodies of these creatures had a very powerful resonance for me.  With the photographs in the Transcendence series, I hope to create tension between seduction and repulsion - to create seductively beautiful images which upon close inspection reveal that the animal in question is dead.  I always surpises me to see how long it takes the average viewer to realize exactly what he/she is seeing.   From time to time, I am asked "how did you get those animals to pose like that??" 

Like Transcendence, Domestic Arrangements mixes the beautiful with the grotesque.  The source material for these images is a combination of vanitas painting, natural history dioramas and Martha Stewart.  I find there is a very peculiar relationship to nature which exists in the suburbs - deer are lovely in the woods and fields but not when they eat the tulips, bird feeders are great as long as birds eat the food - when a squirrel intrudes it is considered a nuisance, raccoons are very cute until they get into the trash cans, etc.  I decided to take this one step further, using the creatures as a type of decoration.  I joke that these images are a visualization of the dioramas that would be constructed if Martha Stewart and Carl Akeley had a love child.  Interestingly, museum dioramas while essentially 3-D sculptural installations are ultimately viewed in a manner closer to that of a photograph.  The viewer is on the other side of the glass looking in - he/she is not allowed to enter the space.

What is going on in the image with the deer on the bed with the ghost arm?
The Deertown series is the first body of work I created once I moved to the suburbs. It was a direct response to the number of dead deer I was seeing by the roadside. I will copy the statement for that series below. The images from the first part of Deertown are no longer on my site, they are photos of the deer by the roadside. The second part (the photos on the site) are digital composites. In these images, I combine images of roadkill deer, photos from hunters and taxidermists and interior home images from catalogs and magazines. The ghost arm image is a combination of a hunting photo (you see the hunter's arm) and a spread from a home magazine. The title is "Luxe" it is from 2007.
I should add that one of the deer's antlers was knocked off when it was struck by a car.


The images in the Transcendence series were inspired by Victorian post-mortem photographs. During the Victorian era, victims of an early death were often photographed post mortem. The subjects were carefully posed and then photographed in radiant natural light. The resulting images are eerily beautiful. In these photographs the deceased appear to be sleeping peacefully. I recreate this approach. I remove each creature from the site of its demise and photograph it on a neutral surface. Like the Victorians before me I do not dwell on gruesome details.
As I photographed these animals and birds I began to notice intricate details of which I was never aware: the texture of a possum's tail, the elaborate patterns of birds feathers, etc. Photographs taken with a close-up lens allow for a level of specificity not available to the unassisted human eye. The creatures in these photographs are so common in suburbia that they often go unnoticed. For the most part, they are considered neither beautiful nor precious. Their deaths by the roadside are unremarkable. By photographing these creatures, I have allowed them to inhabit a liminal space. They appear neither alive nor dead, instead they float and drift in indeterminate blackness.

-Kimberly Witham

Web stranica Kimberly Witham ovdje

Nema komentara:

Objavi komentar