Portfolio: Christopher Jonassen


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The Independent Culture

They resemble planets viewed through a telescope, from fiery infernos to icy wastelands. But the subjects of Norwegian fine-art photographer Christopher Jonassen's series "Devour" are, in themselves, actually something far more prosaic: the surfaces of tired, battered frying pans.

Jonassen shot hundreds of the objects over a period of four years, from 2004, with the initial aim of meditating on "the repetitive and mundane actions we do every day" – an idea sparked by the state of the utensils in the shared student home in which he was living in Australia. But his objective soon became more substantial: "It fascinated me how everyday life was wearing out the metal of the pans, one tiny scratch at a time."

The mental leap from the lacerations inflicted on the pans to the synecdochal representation of the damage we do to Gaia was but a short jump away. "I wanted to create a link between the tiny marks we leave behind every day to the enormous impact this adds up to over time," explains Jonassen. "I am very concerned about the way we are treating this planet. The project name reflects this. Devour means to eat up greedily; to destroy, consume and waste; to prey upon voraciously."

He used various oils and liquids on the pans to emphasise their structure and detail, underlining a secondary ambition, to arouse our appreciation of the beauty in the small things with which we surround ourselves.

And it seems we do appreciate that beauty, perhaps without always quite knowing it: "It was surprising how many of my friends and family were keeping the pans in their cellars and attics, even after they were no longer usable.

"The best ones," he adds, "were heavy iron pans, burnt black and scraped with knives, that I got from the winter storage of cooking supplies for the local scouts." A badge of honour, indeed.

For more: christopherjonassen.com