Made by Nature – Made in China

Robert F. Hammerstiel is interested in surrogates. Today you can buy an increasing number of products which are extolled for being imitations, for providing solutions to the troubles that accompany the real thing: The rubber version of a dog’s bone does away with those smells; fruit holds considerably longer if you buy it in plastic shape; artificial plants are incredibly undemanding; and laminate needs less care than parquet flooring. These products are supposed to defy our fear of life’s transitoriness, with advertising actually promoting this fear. They are models of an existing reality which, however, they can imitate in only one dimension, i. e. outer appearance. All other kinds of sensory perception, like tactility, accoustics, or taste, fall by the wayside.

The opulent still lifes Made by Nature – Made in China consist of such surrogate products. Each of the food items was cast out of plastic, in an optically convincing way. The photographs in this series are models, therefore, in several aspects: What used to be European foodstuff, a classic European art genre (the still life), and a popular European style (the trompe l’œil), has been reduced on all levels – imitated, rearranged, and photographed. And again, superficial temptations are played off against the recognition of the deception. Again, superficial temptations nurture desires which in turn are linked with the disappointment to follow later.

Ruth Horak