Danielle Kwaaitaal photographs flowers SUBMERGED IN WATER. Their COLORS get new names and become more VIBRANT, giving the flowers a surreal, MAGICAL appearance. Twan Janssen visited her in her studio in Amsterdam.

In the past, you photographed female bodies, and now flowers…

In 2015, I began my research into flowers. The female body played a central role in my work before, but after that, I felt that it was time to focus on something else.

Do you consider flowers to be a kind of poetic allusion to the human body?

Perhaps, but for me, it was really a logical continuation of that. But I do not regard these flowers as imagery that could replace that of the female form. This series of photographs follows a major project with models who were submerged underwater in a swimming pool, really a very large production. Not just any pool, but one with a depth of five meters, with a large group of models. I was yearning to do something smaller as a reaction to that, to create works in the intimate space of my own studio. I wanted to have this sense of closeness once again, to connect with my own works on a more personal level. I can be quite mesmerized by surfaces. Nerves, structures, how different parts blend into each other. This series of works is very much a continuation of that. Especially the surface and tactility of the flowers have stimulated me to get started on this project. I feel as if the subject has invited me personally.

Why submerged in water?

To me, water signifies weightlessness and the absence of time. I feel that it is a medium that allows me to turn reality upside-down. I’m not that interested in reality; I want to represent reality in in a way that would probably not exist without my involvement. To me, the flowers I photograph underwater are clearly connected with a part of the art history, “Dark Romanticism”. The works of Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner are very famous examples of that. It was very much the polar opposite of the Enlightenment, in which humankind wanted to dominate nature as it saw fit, to really control it.

To chain the beast of indomitable nature.

In spite of that, I also associate your photos with early botanical drawings, which aimed to categorize nature, to learn about it and understand it as much as possible, while your works do not have such intentions. Rather, they give me a sense of wonder, and a boundless fascination with the beauty of a single moment in time.

My work is never about capturing something in that way, or at least not retaining it. The series ‘Florilegium’ is a throw-back to botanical drawings from the 17th century, but I think that the difference with these is that my works do not try to document something; it is more about observing and then releasing something. It is my interpretation of a reality, not its documentation. With my works, I create a reality that does not exist but will be regarded as if it did. Perhaps it is a very reasonable proposal for an alternate reality. All of us are familiar with the pulsating intensity of a television screen. I attempt to bring a part of that to these images, which expressly present themselves as being part of nature. I have developed a technique through which I can translate this intensity into my photos. Rather than being lit up by an external light source, the flowers in my works seem to radiate light themselves.

You photograph flowers “in their prime.” They exist before then, but we only become interested in them once they’re in bloom, after which we lose all interest in them.

When taking photographs of submerged flowers, something else occurs.
Because they are submerged in water, they are not exposed to oxygen. Due to this, the flowers I use in my work have lifespans that are multiple times longer. Their lifespan is expanded twice, in reality, and eventually also through my works. There is only one single print of each photo in existence, in the same way that each human or each flower is unique. It is fair to say that in this way, it could also be an homage to life, because everything that cannot be repeated may be the most valuable.spired by Dutch botanical drawings from the 17th Century. Bundled in book these drawings are also known as “Florilegium".  
Available works: Yes, limited.

All works of the
Florilegium Series (2017- 2018) are an edition of 1+1 Artist Proof. Only a 5 works are available limited editions. Interested? Please contact Studio Danielle Kwaaitaal for sizes, prices and framing options. Studio Danielle Kwaaitaal ships her work worldwide in professional handmade crates. For inquiries please sent a message to danielle@daniellekwaaitaal.nl

© Danielle Kwaaitaal 2020