Maisie Cousins

A Feast for the Eyes

Still lifes were particularly en vogue during the Baroque era. The genre is traditionally associated with artistic arrangements of inanimate objects, such as flowers, fruit, slain animals and everyday items. Despite their colorful depiction, they were also intended to remind the viewer that beauty is transient and life is finite. The British artist Maisie Cousins designs her photographs as a modern interpretation of still life. The objects in her images, some of which are still very much alive, are part of a flamboyant, opulent and at first glance sensual mise-en-scène. On closer examination, however, it soon becomes apparent that as well as blossoms, fruit and naked skin, Cousins’ images incorporate scraps of food, garbage and small creatures that disturb – and even destroy – the delightful scenes and impressions of beauty.

Cousins’ universe is filled with color contrasts, antagonisms and unusual perspectives: It is a reflection of her sensual excursions through the organic and non-organic objects she finds in her own household. But not everything is left to chance in her photographs: She composes her designs in the studio, where she arranges the individual components according to her mood; after that, she lets the chemical process of decay take its course. When she later returns and views her subjects through the macro lens of her camera, she finds that her compositions have suddenly developed an interesting life of their own.

Cousins’ motifs do not just stem from the artist’s curiosity; they also reflect her emotional state at the time of creating them. Sensually glistening nudity that is only recognizable as being anatomical at second glance, or seemingly phallic flora reveal erotic desires. Cousins’ photographs are made even more sensually charged by the haptic appearance of the surfaces, such as oiled skin or moist blossoms, that seem almost palpable. With powerful aesthetics, Cousins creates a fascinatingly carefree interaction in her photographs between attraction and repulsion, beauty and ugliness, coincidence and composition.

Biographical information

1992

born in London, United Kingdom

2014

graduates in Photography at Brighton University, London

2018

is selected for the Talents program of the Fotografiemuseum Foam Amsterdam

lives in London, United Kingdom