Laura Letinsky – Ill Form and Void full

06th March 2020

We are asked to look closely and analyse the below photograph by the Canadian photographer Laura Letinsky.

Untitled 12, from the series “Ill Form and Void Full”, 2011
image from ART SY artsy.net

Driven by her interest in “control, accidents, and contrivance,” Laura Letinsky is best known for her exquisitely composed still life photographs, redolent with ambiguity. Early in her career, she photographed couples in the intimacy of their own homes, creating sensual visual narratives about love and relationships. By the late 1990s, Letinsky stopped photographing people and replaced them with objects—a stained napkin, orange peels, half eaten bits of candy—that hinted at human presence. Keenly aware of the rich narrative possibilities inherent in still lifes and influenced by 17th-century Dutch still life painting, Letinsky crafts tabletop vignettes that suggest larger narratives, as she explains: “It’s this idea that the narrative has already occurred; the meal has been eaten, the cornucopia has been consumed, something has been consummated, and this is what’s left in the early morning light.”

ART SY artsy.net

Closely looking at Letinsky’s work, I would categorise it as creative photography. This is because she has created the still life using the artistic skills of collage and then second to that she has used the camera to record the artwork created. It is a tough one, the border between art and photography in works such as these. This is the reason I categorise quite a lot of my photography work as creative photography as it isn’t ‘pure’ camera work as such as it is combined with other creative skills.

I have included some more of her work below as I am finding them very intriguing.

Untitled 29#, Ill Form and Void full series 2011
image taken from Laura Letinsky website lauraletinsky.com
Untitled 49#, Ill Form and Void full series 2013
image taken from Laura Letinsky website lauraletinsky.com
Untitled 53#, Ill Form and Void full series 2013
image taken from Laura Letinsky website lauraletinsky.com

I am personally loving the use of layers, negative spaces and the subtle use of light that she has incorporated into the still life’s. Also the monochrome focus colours which are broken very cleverly with a hint of colour especially the reds and oranges which are very eye catching. For me personally, I love the text and the simple negative shapes that have been cut out to represent objects one would find on the dining table.

The whites and greys give a peaceful washed out feeling and to me symbolises a memory where the less important background, mid ground and foreground details are not present so we focus on the subject which in this case is the still life and Letinsky’s purposely built narrative.

Letinsky’s placements of lines leads the viewers eyes into the composition and sometimes, for example in Untitled 49# above, objects such as the spoon and the plant lead our eyes out of the picture frame. In Untitled 53# the large negative space in the foreground encourages our eyes to travel quickly to the still life which is breaking the picture plain into two and the objects are then encouraging our eyes to move up the image to the top of the picture plain.

The camera viewpoint to my eyes seems to be directly in front of the still life and above it. Therefore we are looking down on the objects as if they are on a table in front of us.

Although the work is a collage Letinsky still has managed in some of the work to give a sense of three dimensions by the layering of papers which are left so that shadows full beneath them or besides them. These shadows also, in some parts of the image, enhance the sharp lines which divide the picture plane into sections.

The narrative connotations behind the work are identical within each image. The objects represent an interrupted meal and give a sense of haste as they have been left in disarray on the table. In some images the objects are placed together as though they have been pushed into a pile or the table has been knocked to the side causing the objects to move and spill.

If we analyse the disarray as a sense of haste the concepts could be that of hasty sex, on the table or they have exited to have sex elsewhere. Perhaps one or both have left the table in haste due to a disagreement.

In the quote paragraph that begins this post it is written, “… the cornucopia has been consumed, something has been consummated, and this is what’s left in the early morning light.” If this mess is left in the early morning after a night of relationship bliss or arguments then the subtle use of whites and greys not only could represent the evenings memories but the early morning light that one gets through the windows of the home.

Definitely creative photography and definitely an excellent concept with equally as excellent execution.


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