Drawing upon Vanitas (Dutch Still Life Painting of the 17th century), Volokhova’s series “Still Life Stories” deals playfully with one of the fundamental paradoxes inherent in the artistic practice: the preservation of the fleeting. In “Still Life Stories,” the abundance of consumer and material culture is both parodied and literally rendered as food for thought – “Still Life Stories” presents a series of multipurpose food containers in forms that echo those of these classical Vanitas paintings (ex: dead animals) but interpret them in a contemporary manner. By showing the link between the prosperity and material abundance of the Dutch 17th century and our present material culture, Volokhova uses the thought provoking forms of traditional Still Life paintings to remind the contemporary viewer of the fleetingness and wastefulness of our own material conditions. The stories told by these contemporary and functional Still Life porcelain pieces render visible what is normally difficult to see: in these stories the inside is brought outside and that which is normally consumed becomes the vessel for other temporary objects.
Like all of her work, “Still Life Stories” straddles the border between art and design, pure aesthetics and functionality. In creating a series of useful food containers that also appears as decadent toys, Volokhova develops an unusual aesthetic that, in the tradition of Vanitas works, is poised between life and death as well as between the beauty of the ‘nice’ surface and the critical content behind it.
While everyday life objects such as serving dishes and containers, the objects in “Still Life Stories” are designed to promote a new experience of the everyday: they encourage and invite playful handling as well as challenge the user to discover the ideas behind their design.
“Still Life Stories” is intended to facilitate an experimental dinner party, by opening new ways of experiencing the meal and which parallels to food design. The dinner takes on the sense of a special act or performance. The actors are animals made of porcelain. These serving plates, bowls, and cups take the shape of living and lively animals while simultaneously playing cadavers. Besides the animal food containers there are also abstracted organic shapes from the inside of the body. There are 6 main objects. Supplementary pieces are likely to be added. Small editions of some of the main pieces (such as “Sheep Chase” where a porcelain sheep head functions as a salt and pepper container or a sugar bowl) are also parts of the overall project.
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