Matt Garber: Doll




Photography, Text and Video by Matt Garber, Copyright 2017




Still life is a place for juxtaposition. There is a place for strength, weakness, naturality, artificiality, beauty, and grotesqueness in every scene. For this photoset, these elements are incorporated.

In each exposure, the stones represent a material of strength. Stone is the medium for monuments and mountains alike. Sculpture has a long history using stone to create pieces lasting thousands of years, moving largely unchanged through time.

However, here, the stones are stacked ever so precariously. This implies a temporariness and a delicacy unusual for stone. It also emphasizes the time-capturing power of the photograph, as, despite being made of stone, these structures clearly cannot stick around very long.

Each photo is set in nature, on large rocks, beside a trickling stream with tiny waterfalls. And yet, each scene is manufactured unnaturally. The stone structures are too improbable to have occurred by chance, and the colorization of the stones highlights the ideas that they are out of place, yet in their natural place. And of course, there is the old baby doll, staring blankly, unnaturally, into the distance.

The baby doll is vintage, yet it has not grown up. It is weak, but clearly more permanent than the stone structures. It is provocative and perhaps grotesque in a natural environment. It is meant to pull the eye away from the rest of the scene, which is ironic in and of itself: how can a viewer continuously be drawn to the least beautiful part of every shot?

In several cases, the baby interacts with objects and ideas with which it has no business interacting. The old watch slung across its shoulder represents time that a baby shouldn’t have experienced. And the knife laying across its neck represents a pain, struggle, or death that should be well beyond the life experience of someone with suck a short life.

Each element of this piece forces a viewer to consider the reason for its existence because each element contrasts and conflicts with something else in the frame. This series is confusing and enticing at the same time.



About The Author: Matt Garber is a Freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.  To access additional articles by Matt Garber, click here


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