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.

The book Whispering Waters will be published to accompany the exhibition.
40 pages, 20 full-colour images
Hardcover, 17x23 cm, portrait
Foreword: Pietje Tegenbosch
Publisher: d'jonge Hond ISBN: 978 90 89101 211. www.dejongehond.nl
Price: € 18.95

With thanks to
Het Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Torch Gallery Amsterdam, and Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

Note for the editor
For further information please contact Josee Selbach (jselbach@groningermuseum.nl) or Evelien Bijlefeld (ebijlefeld@groningermuseum.nl), telephone ( 31) (0)50 3666555, or visit www.groningermuseum.nl.

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