Ilva Beretta’s work is based on the research of mundane objects like food and the underlying stories they tell about continuity and memory.
She particularly interested in the perception of temporality and the mechanisms of memory and her work tends to deal with these two themes, although they sometimes intertwine.
Life is dependent on food; food accompanies us from the beginning of our existence to the end, be it of the human race or our personal, individual lives. It is therefore a very relevant subject to work with to show continuity, despite it being so fundamental to life as such that it has no real status as a metaphor of continuity, it just exists, a banal presence, necessity or pleasure.
Through series of still lifes, Beretta works on the connotations of continuity and timelessness of the subject matter, rather than depicting any fleeting moment in time, or death, as in traditional vanitas images. She is interested in investigating the timeless nature of food, not the concept of death and vanitas, and her point in time is irrelevant. In her work, decay is of interest because it transforms matter into a new form and not because it has a symbolic value of death and transience. Beretta is interested in presenting and thus re-presenting something that can be described as eternal despite its obvious transient quality, exploring what food can tell us about the past, the present, and even possibly the future. Food tells a story that has been repeated from the beginning of time in one way or another.
Beretta is interested in how we assemble concepts and ideas and apply these to the objects we see or we think we see. The perception of the external world and how memories influence what we see has been a constant interest since she David Hume’s theory of the external world discovered as a teenager; in her still lifes she often explores the way we partially reconstruct what we see from memories and preconceived ideas.
Corners-An Irving Penn Tribute is a series of food ‘portraits’ inspired by Irving Penn’s famous corner portraits. Instead of using people as protagonists, Ilva Beretta use vegetables or fruit with interesting forms and visual possibilities as subjects in order to exploit the innate tendency we have to anthropomorphize the external world and to interpret emotions and attitudes in innate objects. She is also interested in how our memories influence how we perceive the fruit and vegetables in the corners, which memories they draw forth in the viewer The restricted area of the corner and the way it frames the subjects underlines and emphasises their intrinsic forms and nature and like in Penn’s photographs it explores how limits work, on ourselves and on the surrounding world.
About Ilva Beretta
Ilva Beretta is a Swedish photographer living in Italy. As a photographer, she gravitates towards food as subject matter, both as a fine arts photographer and in her professional work. She is a lapsed literary historian but has long abandoned the word for the visual image; her academic past evidently influences her visual research which is manifest in her interest in the perception of temporality and the mechanisms of memory which she explores in her still lifes. [Official Website]