Neudecker established a systematic method to select 40 boxes from the Museum of Design in Plastics (MoDiP) collection and arranged the contents of each as tabletop still lives. She photographed each arrangement, dramatically lit, in the idiom of 17th century Dutch Vanitas still lives: exquisite paintings of everyday objects that intimate the transience of life.
By re-interpreting the MoDiP collection in a particular painting context she will evolve new meanings and interpretations for still life painting and plastics heritage. The re-contextualisation of the mundane objects from the collection as the subjects of exquisite ‘Vanitas’ paintings will encourage re-evaluation of their significance and the part plastics play in earthly bliss, degradation and mortality. A new light will be shone on the collection, literally and metaphorically.
The resulting photographic images will surprise by their power and poetry. She will exhibit the results during ‘Plastic Vanitas’ on at TheGallery, 10th September – 29th October 2015.
The exhibition forms part of the international peer-reviewed conference, Provocative Plastics: plastics in design from the practical to the philosophical, be held at AUB on 17th & 18th September 2015.
“Any hesitation I had about working with MoDiP was swept away when I met them and saw the place and the archive. I was really intrigued to find out a lot of things I may have ignored about plastics, especially the way they organise the archive by weight. You get top-heavy things round the bottom, and some boxes have the most bizarre concoctions of things because out their weight etc. I’m really interested in the archive and the way plastic as a cultural material is so complex and versatile. Plastic is potentially both the worst and best thing environmentally speaking, that whole side of it is very interesting. I always thought plastic was a negative thing, although I use so much in my work and everyone uses it every day.
I’ve worked with 5 or 6 students so far – they’re a good bunch. It’s so intense because the days go until 8:30pm in the evening, by the end of day three it feels like three years ago that the first shot was taken. It’s pretty full on because in this sort of environment there’s no daylight and there’s flashes going off all the time.
I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I use photography but it’s usually outdoors and photographing what’s there, rather than setting up scenes like this. I’m learning loads about lighting etc. It’s really fun how each student has their own tricks up their sleeve, which they’re happy to share.”
Will Ablett from BA (Hons) Commercial Photography, was assisting Mariele and said:
“I’ve been doing a bit of still life recently and trying to get more into studio lighting, so what I’ve learnt in the last year has come in really useful for this. I had no idea about Vanitas paintings or Mariele’s work, so actually getting to know her and her take on it is really interesting. It’s such an unusual way of showing the objects. One object per photo references a particular thing from a vanitas painting, for example a skull, or a globe.
I see everything from a photographic point of view, so I’m looking at the lighting and that kind of thing. Mariele is looking at it from an artist’s point of view and how that informs her project.”