Upon encountering the work of Nadin Maria Rüfenacht, one is sure to feel at a loss for words, even a little uncomfortable. Set against a black background, the eerie, David Lynch-like photographs are a triumph to behold. With Nature Morte, Rüfenacht wants viewers to remain open, “irritated” at times, as the artist urges them to look deeper at both the images and themselves.
Nature Morte translates to ‘still life’ but lest you start conjuring images of fruit artfully arranged in a bowl. OK, there is fruit, but the pears and pomegranates are carefully placed on draped cloths surrounded by monkeys, horses, heads and, of course, dogs—Rüfenacht’s own whippets Titus and Xavoo to be precise.
Born in Burgdorf, Switzerland, Rüfenacht was raised by hippie parents in the countryside. There were always animals about, which has informed the development of her work. After experimenting with black-and-white images in her high-school photo lab, Rüfenacht moved to Leipzig to study the craft full time. Over the years, she grew weary of looking for visuals in real life, and so the artist decided she must “build a stage” to bring the work she envisioned in her mind to fruition. Nature Morte was shaped around the concept of heros—who they are and what they look like. Placing Titus and Xavoo in stylised scenarios allows them to be viewed in an entirely new way.
Rüfenacht is fascinated by how and why particular photographs and paintings resonate with a viewer. Nature Morte references styles from Renaissance to Baroque to Surrealism, with the artist learning along the way how “to create new meanings and possibilities to interpret.” She describes her whippets as “very quiet inside and have a lot of energy outside,” which makes them the ideal subjects for this staged reality. Rüfenacht’s next project will comprise “really big collages” of her own photographs, again utilising animals in surrealist situations. Viewers beware.
All images courtesy of Nadin Maria Rüfenacht
This article was initially published at the Four&Sons broadsheet.
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