For this week's Work From Home, we hear from Bettina von Zwehl from inside her studio in London. Von Zwehl tells us about her newest series The Cut Outs, inspired by Henri Matisse's works by the same name, and shows us a bit of her physical process cutting up her photographs.
"At the moment, I am working on a new series called The Cut Outs and it's very much expired by the cut outs by Matisse. I really love the work he did in the 40s and 50s where he used scissors to draw. I use negatives from last year and interpret them over and over again using photographic silhouettes that I've made in the darkroom. I then use scissors to cut them up."
Bettina von Zwehl was born in Munich in 1971 and received an MA from the Royal College of Art (RCA), London, in 1999. She has built her international reputation on subtle and distinctive photographic portraits. As her practice has developed, she has continued to seek out different ways of exploring the form; from her early works, most often defined by the exacting conditions she imposed on her subjects, to her most recent projects including Meditations in an Emergency.
Meditations in an Emergency is Bettina von Zwehl's latest portrait series inspired by the teenage die-ins that were staged shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Von Zwehl presents portraits of New York City teenagers (the result of the first artist-in-residence at the New York Historical Society) in the classic silhouette profile, describing the photographs as death masks sculpted from life. These seventeen portraits honor the number of victims of the school shooting on Valentine's Day, 2018, and serve as a testament to the endurance and practice of protest and teen activism.