Lily Smernou | ABOUT THE WORK

About the work

The Loss IThe Loss I

21st Century Vanitas

This collection of photographs is an illustrated metaphor about the desire for beauty’s endurance while it alludes to the transience of life.

Inspired by the vanitas still life genre, the series brings into focus quintessential natural symbols of luscious beauty and pleasure. The floral and avian icons also symbolize decay, loss, and life’s brevity. Personal objects incorporated in the compositions are permeated with layers of allegorical meaning.

The most frequent philosophical themes of 16th century vanitas paintings revolved around the ephemeral nature of life and its inevitable demise. In an updated divergence from these themes, this series challenges the concepts of transience, loss, and the futility of pleasure.

The 21st Century Vanitas  portray attempts to restore and prolong beauty’s vitality by reconstructing a carefully crafted appearance. Losses have to be amended, beauty re-established, and the passage of time defied.

In modern times there is both availability and overabundance of natural and artificial means so the veracity and forms of beauty can be easily altered. The devised attempts may be novel, assisted by technology, or modeled after historical images; they might be incongruous or illogical. Regardless, any attempts must be viewed in light of the desire for beauty’s permanence.

The resulting compositions use themes and elements associated with vanitas paintings and bring them to a contemporary context. The collection speaks of timeless and painful issues connecting contemporary attitudes and modus- operandi with those of the medieval minds.

Study in Biomorphism IIIStudy in Biomorphism III

Studies in arts and sciences

“Studies in arts and sciences” celebrates the rare and unique natural specimens and illustrates the alluring notions of creating new life forms. Realms not explored by nature are metaphorically explored in this series by the documentary power of photography and the creative possibilities of digital technology tools.

As a social and environmental scientist with studies across several fields, I was always fascinated by the possibility of synthesizing new forms from existing matter and by what can be made possible. Sparked by the issues created by genetic engineering and synthetic biology this work celebrates the diversity of existing species while it introduces atypical and novel materials in fantastic genetic interventions merging native specimens with artificial ones.

Unique plant specimens are visible alongside engineered plants and natural samples are juxtaposed next to redesigned organisms. Genetic manipulations are portrayed  as innovative fabrications and micro-factories; alien material seems to innocuously fuse with  plants’ biology and hybrid forms appear to grow roots in their surroundings.

As the new bio-technologies present real world challenges and dilemmas this work also poses questions to the viewer about reality, illusion, and innovation taking place outside the natural environment. The viewers are invited to ponder the effects of  technology in the service of human needs and desires and the seemingly impossible solutions.

Frequent Flyer's DressFrequent Flyer's DressEphemeral Sculptures: Evening Dresses for Every Type

Ephemeral Sculptures: Evening Dresses for Every Type

The images in the series are visual imprints of momentary sculptural compositions created by bringing together objects from my personal collection. With objects forming the framework for storytelling, the ephemeral compositions celebrate transfiguration and renewal.

The photographically captured compositions serve as metaphors for what defines, describes and interprets our actions and ourselves –our identity. The archetypal form and intimate nature of the dress portrayed allude to identity, its aspects, and adaptability. Components of the sculptures take on new allegorical meanings, such that an open book becomes the symbol of the self’s presentation to others.

The short-lived assemblages are constructed instinctively as a response to a need for personal expression as fleeting and precious as them. I hope the constructs presented and their allegorical overtones will transport the viewers to a different realm where they can play new roles as interpreters of its imagery.