The juxtaposition between life and death is strongly illustrated in Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s 1712 painting “Nature morte avec oiseaux morts et cerises”.
In the painting luminescent cherries exude the vitality of life. Such is Oudry’s skill that they appear to glow from their core – they could be interpreted as a celebration of life. Balancing this with more sombre thoughts is Oudry’s placement of three dead birds in the painting. The birds symbolise the inevitability of every living creature’s demise. Butterflies, wasps and other insects fly around the scene, their renowned short life-span a reminder of our own mortality. Looking again at the cherries we now anticipate their loss of spirit. Paintings from the still-life genre remind us to use our time wisely.
The accompanying soundscape uses field recordings of flies trapped in webs and against window-sills. The high-pitched drone of wasps can be heard in the background while an amplified room tone adds weight to the piece. Headphones are recommended.