Garden of Eden
Our society has adopted a simplistic view of nature, praising its abundance and richness, while simultaneously exploiting and subjugating it. Depictions of natural produce, from classical paintings to modern advertisements, continue to portray fruits and vegetables as wholesome, healthy, and beautiful, despite the fact that we are gradually depleting our planet’s natural resources in pursuit of wealth and convenience. Supermarkets offer an excellent example of this trend, with their numbered, labeled, certified, and standardized products. In the 21st century, we have created a new Garden of Eden, where everything appears pristine and flawless. However, we have sacrificed many vital qualities, such as taste, diversity, and even our humanity, in the process. My aim is to spark a conversation about our relationship with nature and the trajectory of our civilization.
The Garden of Eden exhibit showcases 24 still-life photographs that resemble the paintings of old masters. However, instead of depicting traditional subjects, these modern images feature fruits and vegetables commonly found in supermarkets, complete with labels and plastic wrapping. Each photograph is titled with the PLU numbers and country of origin for the produce depicted. The project was completed in 2011 with the generous support of an Ontario Arts Council grant and is currently on a world tour, being displayed at several venues across Europe and North America.
To create these beautiful images, I used a Sinar view camera and 4×5 inch color transparencies. Tungsten lighting helped me achieve the desired effects, but unfortunately, large format transparencies for tungsten light are no longer available. Luckily, I had a small supply in my refrigerator. My wife Anna played a vital role in helping me to construct the sets, and we carefully selected the props and other elements of composition. We painted our own backgrounds and constructed certain items from scratch specifically for this project.
For the exhibition, I framed the photographs in frames that resemble those used for old masters’ paintings. Though they look like gold, they are actually made of acrylic, which harmonizes with the project’s content. The prints are made from scans and are archival pigment prints. They are available in two sizes (22×28 inches and 16×20 inches) in limited editions of 15 plus 3 AP. The exhibition is accompanied by a 64-page catalogue published by the Museum fur Kunst und Kulturgeschichte (Dortmund, Germany), BWA Gallery in Gorzow Wielkopolski (Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland), and Legnica Art Gallery (Legnica, Poland).
Baroque, nothing but an illusion? Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Mannheim, Germany
Contemporary Arts Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Dortmund, Germany
Backlight International Photography Triennale, Tampere, Finland
Created with support of The Ontario Arts Council
Video from Garden of Eden exhibition at Las Vegas Contemporary Art Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA