In the photographic project ‘Sorrowings,’ Lenka Cisarova used still life settings with classic props and organisms to visually stage different motifs related to ‘living in emergency mode.’
Lenka examines and reflects on social issues and the human psyche through illusion and surreal aesthetics. Using color-ravaging bodies of butterflies and larvae, she creates the conditions for a “state of emergency” for those living organisms as they are placed in fabricated micro-worlds.
The aesthetics of the artificial microenvironments correspond to the concept of simulated reality. In addition, the overall construction gives a homage to pictorial photography from the 19th century.
The animals behave according to their own physiology despite the unnatural environment, and, thus, create a beautiful and dynamic arrangement. Likewise, the strong contrast of colors and composition is a well-executed experimentation.
‘Sorrowings’ touches upon the most recent changes affecting society, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Certainly, people faced unnatural (abnormal) conditions with mandatory isolation, panic, and social distancing — just as portrayed by the insect actors. Therefore, the relationship between the animals and the staged environment becomes an evaluation of what we, as humans, perceive as ‘natural’ and ‘artificial.’
Moreover, these particular beings in this photography project represent a still life ‘vanitas.’ Butterflies symbolize temporality and transformation (or metamorphosis) due to their length of life and developmental change as larvae. Indeed, when it comes to living in emergency mode, these two concepts become relatable.
‘Sorrowings’ in the artist’s own words
“The photographic series ‘Sorrowings’ explores the phenomenon of living in emergency mode and its impact on people’s lifestyles and behavior.
It is metaphorically portrayed through still lifes of animals, arranged in artificial and unnatural environments. These are meant to temporarily provide a surrogate reality to them.
The scenes are monochromatic to black and white, representing the stereotype and artificiality of our dwellings — and contrasting with the dynamism and liveliness of its inhabitants. The motif of isolation and separation thus comes strongly to the fore.”
Lenka Cisárová is a visual artist. She tends to reflect on topics from social events, psychology, or social and family conditions. Her artistic language is combining media, creating visual illusions, photography, and installations.
In photography, she tends to the current trend of ‘still life,’ whereby by arranging incoherent objects and elements, she creates new meanings and emphasizes the surreal effect. She studied painting and new media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and has had several solo and group exhibitions.
If you liked to read “Sorrowings” by Lenka Cisarova, make sure to explore more in our Project Spotlight section.
Do you have a special project you’d like to share with us? Sign up today and submit it through your Cherrydeck account!