Untitled, Série Pandore
by Halida Boughriet
Halida Boughriet’s photograph has an appearance as artificial as an oil painting's candlelit composition. It seems to borrow from a number of artistic genres in other mediums, from still life to chamber drama. The dinner is not really a meal at all: the only food on the table is some decorative fruit, which could well be wax. There are no organic textures, scraped plates, or wine-stained glasses here. A basketball sits where we might expect to see a floral bouquet, its incongruity almost going unnoticed amid the smooth spheres and glinting domes of the glass finery.
The artifice of the scene disguises, or perhaps brings to the fore, questions that hint at real experience. Why does a child crouch under the table, eyeing us with distrust? Who are we surprised to see here, and who is absent? The more we look, the more we may wonder whether all the figures are welcome. The standing woman, with bare feet and an unfocused gaze, seems like an AI automaton of the future, or a serving girl on the periphery of an old banquet scene. Through its deceptive familiarity, the image hints at, and unpicks, the social roles taken on by its nameless guests.
Words by Elizabeth Brown
An array of domestic objects is placed on a dark wooden table, akin to a still-life composition. Fruit, glasses, candlesticks, and a butter dish are included, alongside a less predictable addition: a bright-orange basketball, which pierces any sense of time period or tradition. In its unexpected presence, the ball draws us to consider the other items on display more carefully. Though none others appear out of place, their arrangement seems arbitrary, belying the photograph’s meticulous construction. Edges and partitions divide up the scene: light and shadow, white and black, decorated and plain.
Yet this photograph could also be seen as a group portrait. Three people occupy the dining space, existing at the fringes of the image. A young woman stands upright at one end of the table, staring blankly ahead, her rigid form comparable to that of a sculpture. A boy sits opposite, his palms laid flat next to the empty plate in front of him. He is similarly stiff and expressionless, but he looks directly into the camera lens, holding our gaze. A third youth crouches underneath the table, his body cramped up uncomfortably, looking up towards us as though inviting us to pick this cryptic piece apart, and to question the power dynamics at play.
Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou