by Shraddha NairJan 09, 2021
The empty nutshells, crinkled wrappers, waste plastic, before meeting the inevitable fate in the disposal box find a life in the form of a series of photographs, horror vacui, by Germany-based photographer Pia Kintrup. The human tendency to fill the empty spaces has been long recognised and formally termed horror vacui since the times of antiquity. Tracing the patterns of “nature abhors a vacuum" to the current-day, Kintrup's practice is about the cascading effect the imbalance in our life has on the environment. The still-life photographs of the object, either completely immerse or standing out in striking contrast with the backdrop, are not obliged to epitomise beauty but to underscore the engagement between the two realities.
When the pandemic does not seem to be fading away and continues to reign in daily life, Kintrup finds a parallel between the series horror vacui and the current times where the excess has turned the head of things. In an interview with STIR, she explains, “The future and new reality seem as uncertain as never before. Not only our communities have changed, but the vast destruction of our planet is also undeniable anymore. The horror vacui series speaks about the fear of emptiness, which can be related to the abandoned spaces the pandemic causes in everyday life. The abundance and consumption of products became severe during the last decades - but it creates somehow a contrasting juxtaposition of loss, transformation and things which lost their original purpose. Showing empty shells and broken objects make more than ever before a metaphor to the state of our actual society. Nobody can even imagine how the state of the world will be in five or ten years. What this new impermanence even politically will lead us to”.
Working on the idea of how borders and surveillance machinery affect our perception of spaces and places is her another series, The Nonexistent areas are of particular interest. She stages the photograph with artificial settings, to represent a reality that remains a step away from achieving an authentic take on everyday life. Talking further about it, Kintrup states, “I was always fascinated by the abstract idea of borders, which are often constructed lines between here and there. Borders are, on the one hand, something wholly imagined - while having enormous effects in political, and even historical incidents, and on the other hand something very metaphorical or even philosophical. It's an unutterable fine line between borders that exist and are nonexistent at the same time. The nonexistent areas are of particular interest series evokes the idea of an unknown place of imagination - where everything appears different than we knew it before. The images create a net which can be understood like a dream, where things get entirely new connections between each other which aren’t part of rational or logical thoughts we might have before”.
Kintrup's exploration of the multifaceted reality of spaces is found in her sculptures too. For an artist working with two mediums - sculptures and photography - it is hard to not find common grounds of the intersection. “My working process has ever been a movement between the two and three-dimensional spaces. It is like I am working with photography for one series and especially my interest in photography as a media, what it is and which are its unique qualities; afterwards, I feel the need to go back into space again. It seems that I feel the tendency to correlate these two forms of art. At the same time, in a few of my photographic works, even in the horror vacui series, there is something like creating photographic sculptures. The only difference to sculpture is that there is a fixed view created by myself. In contrast to objects, you aren't able to move around it and to be seeing every side of it,” she adds.
If the presence of absence sets the course of the transition, it also opens a site to dive and swim across the sea of metamorphosis. When Kintrup mentions, "I am glad when my work blows some fresh air into the minds of the audience or even questions some ideas," she acknowledges the pertinence of harmony in coexistence and futility of taking up the battle of opposites.