Iris van der Zee



‘Antropomorph’ plays with the idea of antropomorphism: the human need to project human qualities to non-human entities. I used the subject of antropomorphism within a research on the possible role of photographic techniques within creating a sculpture.

By documenting the process of molding a human head in clay, the viewer joins the process of turning a piece of clay slowly into a form that we categorize as a human face. Once the face is finished, the deconstruction and reconstruction begins. First the face is abstracted, then combined into a collage with the same head in an earlier stage of the process. Every reproduction starts with a previous reproduction, until the imagery gets too abstract to be recognized as the originally intended image of the human figure.

The project challenges the idea of photography as a tool of reproduction by playing an active role in the making of a sculpture. The intention is not to document the sculpture, since the sculpture itself is not interesting to me as a maker. I am more interested in how the specific qualities of the medium of photography can be applied to the medium of sculpture.

There are certain rules when it comes to portrait photography, like the common use of a portrait lense, high diafragma, cropping of the buste, scale, etc. And then the portrayed subject: often a human being with 2 eyes, 2 ears, a nose, a mouth, a skin, a head and a neck. By using the rules of portrait photography while erasing some facial characteristics of the portrayed subject, I researched the border between an abstract shape that we still perceive as a human figure (antropomorph) and a totally abstract shape.

Because of the investigating character of the project, I show a big part of the process: from modeling the clay to deconstructing to reconstructing until the work becomes a reproduction without a recognizable source. All these steps were either witnessed or caused by photographic techniques. Therefor, the camera acts as a sculptural tool in this project. The sculptures’ purpose seems only justified once it is photographed and digitally edited. In this case, the reproduction proves to be the sculpture.