Whispering Waters

About: This series was created in 2009. More information is coming soon.
Available works: Yes, limited

All works of Whispering Waters come in a edition of 5 + 1 AP and in 2 sizes, 140x104 and 70x52cm. Please contact Studio Danielle Kwaaitaal for, prices and framing options. Studio Danielle Kwaaitaal ships her work worldwide in professional handmade crates. For inquiries please sent a mail to danielle@daniellekwaaitaal.nl

A Sense-beguiling Whispering

She hangs upside down in the water. Clad in virginal white, like a bride. Her arms spread, her legs extended. Her long hair drifts out from her head in horizontal waves. The skin of her face, arms, thighs and lower legs, shining whitely under the transparent material of her dress, takes on the appearance of the coolest and most precious marble. Her image is vaguely reflected in the ripples at the surface of the tranquil, liquid darkness that surrounds her. Like a queen of light, Dione floats in a world in which the senses are beguiled and nothing is as it seems.

Dione is the title of one of the works in the Whispering Waters series by artist/VJ Daniëlle Kwaaitaal. Dione is also the name of one of the three thousand daughters of the Greek god Oceanus and his mythological consort Tethys. The sea god, whom the Greeks envisaged as an immense river completely encircling the world’s flat disc, endowed his multitude of kin, the Oceanids, with beautiful names such as Merope, Clymene or Zeuxo and gave each of them their own body of water to inhabit and to protect. In addition to his role as the god of the seas and oceans, Oceanus governed the rising and setting of the sun, moon and stars. The women in Daniëlle Kwaaitaal’s Whispering Waters appear to be both nymphs and denizens of the heavenly sphere. Dione, whose image so forcibly defies the law of gravity, is depicted with sculpted clarity; the transparent clothing around her body, however, casts a veil around that clarity in the way that clouds of cosmic dust blur the outlines of a planet.

In earlier works, Kwaaitaal was both artist and model. She photographed her own body, with all its curves, folds, arches, hollows and projections, and used advanced computer technology to transform these shots into digital collages painted by mouse. For her 1994 series Bubbling, six items of which can be seen in the Groninger Museum, Kwaaitaal made enlargements of photos of fingertips immersed in effervescing water. She combined the fingertips with fragments of other body parts to create paradisiacal, fairy-tale worlds; airy landscapes inviting you to lose yourself in endless fantasy.

Though Kwaaitaal’s work is based on photography, in essence it bears more resemblance to painting. The thought processes that are recognizable in her work, like the visual references in her pictures, bear witness to this. In this way, the idea of transcending the material world in the Whispering Waters series evokes associations with the work of illustrious predecessors such as the symbolist painters Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Gustave Moreau or – as often maligned as admired - Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Like the specific female image – simultaneously sensual, innocent and dangerous – and the search for the boundaries of aesthetics, the stylistic manner also brings to mind this artistic tradition.

For her latest work, the artist invited cooperation not only from genuine catwalk models but also from synchronized swimmers. Because Kwaaitaal, after her underwater film FLO (2004, starring Ellen ten Damme), was about to take the plunge again. She directs her underwater models according to her own choreography: the catwalk models posing en vogue and the synchronized swimmers performing as classical ballerinas. Beauty is one of the favourite themes in Daniëlle Kwaaitaal’s oeuvre. In the case of Whispering Waters, she links the concept of beauty to the demand for identity and femininity. Her figures – whether sinking, suspended, floating or hovering in the water – are, as it were, deprived of individual expression; their core is dissolved, vanished beneath the social code of their clothing and of fashion. Swathed in the diaphanous shrouds that Mada van Gaans – with a subtle feeling for colour and an obvious love of silk-soft transparencies and female forms – designed at Daniëlle Kwaaitaal’s request, the women transform into elusive, ultra-light water beings, almost like weed moving with the water or soft, gently bobbing jellyfish. Only in the rushing of the spring and the sense-beguiling whisper of the water do Daniëlle Kwaaitaal’s nymphs recover their identity and their true form.

Pietje Tegenbosch

Danielle Kwaaitaal - Whispering Waters

14 January 2009

The Groninger Museum will present new work by the artist Danielle Kwaaitaal (Bussum, 1964) in the 'Green Room' from March 14 to May 31 2009. Whispering Waters (2009) consists of a series of underwater photographs made by Kwaaitaal in conjunction with fashion designer Mada van Gaans.

In Danielle Kwaaitaal' s work the significance of being a woman plays a major role. She is fascinated by ' the ideal of beauty' in a human as well as an artistic sense. In her new work she seeks to join in with the world of fashion with a view to bringing 'beauty' into the limelight as a social issue. Fashion affects the way women look at themselves and others. In Whispering Waters, the woman is looking for her identity and she finds herself back in a dark, isolated world. It seems that what Kwaaitaal has in mind is that the present tyranny of fashion and the beauty industry do not contribute to the advancement of the self, but rather to its destruction. Reflections on being a woman are also clearly noticeable in these works, but with the sculpturality and the disappearance of the visible self Kwaaitaal is breaking new ground with Whispering Waters.

Kwaaitaal' s fascination with water and the female form manifested itself for the first time in the series Bubbling (1994). Bubbling, which is also included in this exhibition, shows body parts immersed in water, presenting strange and enigmatic images in their combined action with the multitudinous bubbles. In the series Whispering Waters, Kwaaitaal distances herself from this abstraction of the human body and is on the look -out for powerful forms and the female identity, which results in scenes from an oppressive world inhabited by nymph -like creatures.

Danielle Kwaaitaal has asked fashion designer Mada van Gaans to design a number of 'underwater dresses' especially for this exhibition. 'Her virtuoso use of materials and exceptional sense of colour are perfectly in keeping with the image that is evoked, in which sharp contours and silk -smooth colour transitions go hand in hand,' Kwaaitaal says. The dresses were worn by catwalk models and swimmers of the synchronized swimming club ZPCH from Hoofddorp, who acted as underwater models for the occasion, performing a special choreography.

Kwaaitaal is one of the pioneers of digitally manipulated photography. Her series entitled Bodyscapes (1992) was created with the help of a Paintbox computer, which was used to fuse images of body parts together to form 'bodyscapes'. After Bubbling -made with the same technique- other series followed, such as Airheads: underwater portrait photographs of characters from the Amsterdam club scene. In 1994 Kwaaitaal founded Techno Creations, one of the first VJ collectives, to bring her work to the notice of a different and younger public. In the fairy-tale underwater story FLO (2004) featuring a sensual Ellen ten Damme, she sang the praises of the female body.

Kwaaitaal also made works for public spaces. For the Bos and Lommer district council she made large photo walls in which Moroccan and Dutch landscapes melt into one another. For Schiphol Airport she created Tracing Reality (2008), a series of photographic panoramas behind the Customs desk in the B/C corridor.

©  Danielle Kwaaitaal 2018