An interesting photographic exhibition titled "Garden of Eden", by Polish/Canadian artist Andrzej Maciejewski, will take place in the Camerawork Gallery
in Portland, Oregon from August 20th to September 23rd, 2011.
Garden of Eden is a series of still-life photographs, inspired by classic old masters paintings, but showing our modern fruits and vegetables from supermarkets, with PLU stickers or plastic wraps on them. This project is an invitation to the reflection on our attitude towards the nature, on the direction in which our civilization is going and on our way of looking at the reality.
One of the interesting features of the project is the mixture of modern and traditional (or even outdated techniques) that were used to realize it. The photographs were taken with 4x5 view camera on colour transparencies and developed in the darkroom. After that they were scanned and the prints for an exhibition were printed using Epson Chrome K3 technology. For lighting the artist used old-type tungsten lights, instead of so popular softbox.
"Garden of Eden" was completed in 2011 and realized thanks to the support of the Ontario Arts Council Grant. It was shortlisted in this year's edition of Sony World Photo Awards (still-life category) and featured in several art magazines. Chosen images were presented so far at the group exhibitions in London, UK and New York, US. The solo show in Camerawork Gallery inaugurates the world tour of the project. In December this year it will be presented in the Contemporary Art Center in Las Vegas, NV and then in several other galleries in US, Canada and Europe.
Andrzej Maciejewski Garden of Eden - Artist statement
Garden of Eden is a series of colour still-life photographs, showing fruits and vegetables. I photographed them in a manner inspired by old masters of painting, like Michelangelo Caravaggio, Henri Fantin Latour, Louis Melendez or Dutch Masters. Their still life compositions are highly realistic, and in same time full of beauty and abundance, commonly associated with the gifts of nature they show. I wanted to achieve similar effect in my photographs, with one important difference. My fruits and vegetables, bought in the supermarket, all have label stickers, or foil wrappers. Also, the titles for them consist of the PLU number and country of origin.
Our society created naïve approach to the nature, glorifying its fertility and opulence. In same time our civilization harnessed and enslaved it. The fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets, numbered and labeled, certified and standardized, are very good example. The 21st century society has created new Garden of Eden, where everything looks perfect and flawless. But many things, like the taste, the singularity and often even the humanity, have been lost during this process. The fruits and vegetables are no longer the amazing awards for hard work of human hands in cooperation with nature forces, the cherished crop provided by my neighbours. Their presence on my table no longer depends on where I live, on weather graciousness or on my long-year effort. They are massproduced in manufactures, often in the other end of the world, with the use of machines and chemicals. They are half-artificial.
In my project I contrasted this reality with the idyllic pictures that sort of automatically come to your mind when you think about the gifts of nature. Our culture has created many idealistic myths that we believe in and which make us blind to the reality. This is also the case of the relationship between us and the nature. From the paintings of old masters to modern commercials, we still get the same picture of natural, healthy and beautiful fruits and vegetables, but the truth is that we are slowly destroying whatever is left of nature on our planet for the sake of money and comfort. My project is an inspiration to the reflection and discussion on this and many other topics.