‘ABSORBED’, by Judith Dahmen, juxtaposes the representation of absorptive activities in the 21st century with those portrayed by French genre painting in the mid-18th century.
In her work Judith explores the essence of absorptive behavior and how this essentially introverted state of mind can be represented with photography.
The four images featured in this exhibition draw their inspiration from the French genre painters Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin and Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The French critic Denis Diderot described absorption in Chardin’s paintings not only as an ordinary, everyday condition, but as that condition which, more than any other, characterises ordinary everyday experience. Judith Dahmen believes that this statement is still as relevant today as it was in the mid-18th century. It is only the manner or tools with which we carry out these activities that has changed. Reading a letter or playing a game of ‘knucklebones’ then is the equivalent of reading an e-mail on the internet or playing a computer game today.
To achieve a photographic representation as close to the everyday situation as possible, Judith works collaboratively with her subjects. For this body of work she has photographed subjects in their own domestic environments whilst (pre-)occupied with an activity or pastime which requires a state of rapt attention. The images capture the obliviousness of the subject to everything other than the object of their engrossment. The beholder is excluded but allowed a glimpse into the private world of the person portrayed.