curated by Ambra Laurenzi



Still life is one of the most ancient types of art and most depicted over the centuries, even if different sets of various iconographic languages have developed over time.

The Still Life project that Paola Vattovani proposes does not however contain those reassuring elements of every day life and food we have grown used to in paintings, with a few exceptions.  But the refuse that we produce in our every day lives: food waste, used and expired material, various containers, packaging, domestic dirt, and other things. With the spirit of an  archaeologist who investigates and analyses finds of ancient civilizations in order to discover their culture and life styles, the author wanted to  observe which and how much rubbish one person in an average western city produces….and we will never know the conclusion that an archaeologist of the future will reach when telling our history!

Each image is marked with the date and time, almost as if marking this sequence of refuse production with scientific rigor.

Her research goes beyond the archaeological survey and transforms the piles of scraps into small compositions, still life, trying to translate the sense of beauty and harmony that derives from this pictorial genre and an end in itself.

There is nothing in this photograph that isn’t familiar, and yet what we see is cruel photographic evidence that worries us, especially because of the evident oxymoron in the representation: accurate compositions make us look more carefully to discover what the refuse is about.

Cezanne’s extraordinary apples and pears, an excellent example of still life, does not celebrate the beauty of the earth, but looks for the essence of a process that is continuously transforming and acquiring value because it is inserted in a time-space that makes it appear absolute and therefore eternal to us.

Nature’s processes of transformation appear to be far from our everyday culture, accustomed to being disposable that makes us lose sight of the value of things consumed and its this value that the author wishes to focus upon. Moving our attention to everything that is subject to consumption: what and how much we consume, what and how much we waste.

In a profit era, everywhere and however, today these would seem obsolete questions despite alarming warnings for responsible consumption and a recycling policy that could lead to an inversion of trends through a sustainable life project from an environmental point of view.

Paola Vattovani is an author who always manages to surprise us due to her acute view of today that disorientates and leads us to reflect carefully.

Let’s therefore look carefully at  the still life presented to us, that asks to be read through a sign of change that something becoming beautiful can also be good. 

Good for all of us and for our future.