Daniela Edburg is a Mexican-Ametican photographer I rather like. With playful images that have a more sinister underlying tone, as well as colours and imagery that make me think of Rookie, I've had to cut down my post on her because there was so much I wanted to say.
For now, I'll just mention her Drop Dead Gorgeous series, where each image depicts a young woman being attacked or killed by some consumer good. Morbid-sounding, right? Here are my favourites:
I've had the fortune to stumble across this great interview, from which I have picked the quotes which I found most interesting.
As an imagery and colour fanatic, and an avid (but infrequent) creator, I liked seeing her thought process behind this:
"I usually take my color palette from the product that consumes her. I start putting aside everything I have in those colors. I’m not selective at first, I just start filling my studio with all the stuff I have, or I find, or my friend has that might work. I find the clothes the same way and I start this growing pile of orange and brown, or pink, or rainbow colored clothing."
This was a point I thought was very interesting when it comes to photography:
"The medium itself has a glamorizing effect, and through color, composition, and humor you can create the illusion that something is aesthetically pleasing when, in reality, it could be horrible or gross."
Photography does rather seem to romanticise things and make them appear desirable, even when they might not usually be so (ample evidence to be found on Tumblr)— it has the wonderful power to make seemingly-mundane incidents or items more interesting, but sometimes I wonder whether this warps our perceptions in a more dangerous way.
Moving onto message-like contemplation:
"I really don’t consider my work a critique [of advertising], although I like that many people do. Many times how the work is seen is more interesting than how it was conceived."
Mostly, this stood out for me after watching a speech by Tavi (which cannot possibly be addressed within this post). I find it hard to put into words and can't re-watch the video this instant, but, using the example of how the more interesting part of the whole One Direction equation is the fans, Tavi discusses how the significance of liking things is what the things you like say about yourself.
Now, on the deeper and more sinister-seeming tones:
"That which gives me pleasure one minute, causes guilt the next. I am surprised at how much I like the products I consume, but, if you stop for one second to think about it, it’s absurd. Yet, you can’t stop. [The work] is not a criticism it’s just an exaggeration of my own reality."
"There’s only your own dark side. The cake is not really to blame. It’s not really about the products, but the relationship of love and then hate that we have with them. When you look at a beautiful package of Oreos everything is new and shiny and attractive, and there is the promise of the sweetness and the pleasure, and then you go and open it and eat it and all you have are a stomachache, crumbs and garbage."
I see it as a bit of a criticism of our consumer culture (in which it is not the poor cake that is to blame), and the culture that makes people feel guilty about eating/putting work into their appearance. Yet this is confusingly balanced with the willing, self-imposed side of it, where that consuming can be fun (common', even the stingiest of morals can eventually go "f*** it, I'm going into to buy a whole tub of ice-cream just for myself" from time-to-time), even though you later lie about groaning that you want to puke.
However, I think it also has some influence from Mexican culture, and how death can be celebrated— Day of the Dead is decked in marvellously bright tissue-paper and flowers, with altars covered in items the dead individuals liked (almost always Whiskey, for some reason -probably that it doesn't go off-, but also sweets, photos of cars, magazine cutouts, their favourite sweets, etc).
The latter part makes me conclude that, despite being powerful in seeming like a criticism, I think that is because it looks so much like consume culture and consumer culture has so much to criticise, it's playfulness makes me think it is rather saying "give in to your desires, they may have bad consequences, but enjoy them."
And look! What a surprise I get when I go back and read the description of the series given on her website!
"Intimate scenarios of indulgence and falling victim to the seductive objects, rituals and pleasures of everyday life. With references to art history, cinema and advertising, this series offers a look at today's society with all it's endearing flaws and it's self-centred search for self-satisfaction."
If you've liked it so far, please please have a look at the full set of Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Can you spot the references to Sylvia Plath and The Birds in the images above? What other bits do you spot in the full series?
What do you think of her work generally?