A Life Without Form
walnut wood, seashell powder, silicone, glass, brass, greencast plexiglas, variable dimensions, 2022
A Life Without Form is an exploratory research into the origins of seashells, their economic & cultural value and the long-standing tradition of collecting. A remark on the behaviour of the past while simultaneously questioning our modern relationship, authenticity and perspective when dealing with (natural) objects of desire.
Seashells have been part of countless cultures and their use arguably predates the timeframe of what is commonly considered to be part of modern human history. Ranging from functional items such as currency and jewelry to being worshipped as symbols of wealth, fertility and strength. Their most prolific appearance in Europe came during the 16th century as a result of the colonial trade, exploration and exploitation by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Seashells as an exotic good became widely admired for their natural beauty, mathematical properties and as a reference towards god as well as gaining scientific noteworthiness through the study of nature. Instigating a craze amongst the upper class of society, conchylomania caused a rapid adoption of seashells into private collections. Over time our affection for the aesthetics and beauty of seashells is still very much alive, yet their social value as a symbol of extreme wealth has partly shifted towards the realm of trinkets and tourism, also a common good used as a building material.
A Life Without Form consists of a series of 36 display cases in various sizes, containing a casting from the inside of a shell on one side. The unique shape of the inner chamber is directly linked to the former inhabitant and represents the living force that once resided inside. Across from this the corresponding seashell is presented, grounded down into powder.
The work acts as a reminder of the natural transformation into lime and it questions our subjective desire to preserve one part while we dismiss another. This new collection leaves a statement by reshaping former seashell collections, and trying to lead the natural objects as well as human consciousness back to the path of acceptance of natural processes, time and the inherent decay and reshaping process of nature. Simultaneously it tries to honor the living force and unseen creator that resided inside and behind the physical expression.