photographic series / Debabyface
2004 - 2016
Aigues Mortes 2004
Frankfurt I 2004
Venice Lido 2005
Venice 2 2007
Venice 3 2011
Venice 4 2005
Venice 5 2011
Frankfurt 2 2004
A series of images of baby faced angels, cherubim, putti etc. found mainly in towns and cities of Europe.
These features of the urban environment, parts of monuments, fountains or decorative flourishes sprouting from architecture must have a meaning.
But what is it?
Although they may have had an original meaning I would like to make another.
These representations of babies have been disfigured by the forces of nature, pollution, dirt and bird shit. Could these figures represent the corruption of the hopes of the past and the failure of the optimism of the ‘grand project’?
They represent the abandonment of idealism.
They represent a lost world, maybe the lost world of childhood.
They resonate as a symbol of our loss of innocence and the nostalgia for the simpler world of childhood?
But what did they originally mean? Do they represent the children of the gods? Or the spirit or anima of humans?
Do they represent a facet of human nature?
As an archetype, the baby / child is seen to symbolically represent, in storytelling and art, rebirth and the soul.
The idea and desire for rebirth is resonant and profound.
These cherubs are imbued with the redeeming nature of the child archetype. They represesnt our desire for redemption.
The conclusion of a satisfying endeavour has an analogy with the notion of children, as the fruit of man. Hence the inclusion of cherubs in a building project or any artistic project.
On an aesthetic level they were also meant to soften the masculine, hard built environment of the big city.
These baby faces were a design trope at a time when children’s rights were not enshrined, and child mortality was high.
For me the decaying cherub stands in for corruption on many levels:
of good intentions,
of the soul,
and of a vanished world
of optimism and delusion.
Through the decay and corruption, scarred and discoloured by the patina of time, one is haunted by the persistence of optimism against material reality.