Kimberly Witham – Domestic Arrangements
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.