For the last six years artist Heidi Voet has lived and worked between Shangai and Brussels. For her "Fruits & Vegetables" series where she placed fresh vegetables next to cut outs from Chinese erotic magazines. Controversial and a lot of fun at the same time.
What is the concept behind the “Fruit & Vegetables” series?
What was first - the pictures of the women or the idea of the fruits? In 2008 I sculpted a series of cinderblock vases and used Chinese erotic magazines to fold origami flowers. The nudity of the women that was exposed in the magazines was, by folding the pages, again obscured. It resulted in objects with a domestic character; vases with flowers that raised questions about the position of woman, culturalhistories, and the construction of images. The leftovers cuts from the magazines were lying around in my studio and then used for “Fruit & Vegetables.” By placing the fresh vegetables next to the girls their youthfulness becomes accentuated. The vegetables that complete the contours of the bodies, only have a slightly shorter lifespan. Of course there is also the relation between the depicted body and the consumption of vegetables and fruit, both delicious, both temporary. Similar to the Japanese tradition of the Ukiyo-e, the woodblock prints where the floating world is depicted. In “Fruit & Vegetables” both a reference to the temporality of pleasure and decay is portrayed.
Where did you find the photographs used in “Fruit & Vegetables”?
In 2006 I moved to Shanghai and was very sensitive to my new environment where I was confronted daily with scenes that questioned my convictions and habits. To explore the city I would go for walks and I found erotic magazines hidden in the back of a newspaper kiosk on Fuxing Road. Seeing pictures of naked flesh and pubic hair was quiet exceptional in a society where nudity is censored and the press is highly controlled. The magazines were sold a material for artists to study the human body or as “Art Photography,” but functioned as erotica. It captures a very specific moment in Chinese contemporary development. Towards the end of 2007 I started working with these magazines for my series of origami flowers.
Do you often work with the image of the female body?
It is interesting to think about the strengths of woman and keeping seduction and play in this picture. I am a woman and look in the mirror. I use images of other woman to be able to consider and describe my relation to the world with some distance, but with intimate familiarity at the same time. Asian woman appear in my work, as they represent the shift in global power in contemporary and future societies.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished the series “Shoot & Sprout,” a series of black and white photos that resemble ethnographical images of primitive sculptures and totems.