‘Photographs’ by Wijnanda Deroo on Display at SUNY Oneonta’s Martin-Mullen Art Gallery

Therese Ferrara, Staff Writer deroo1

With the cold weather, almost daily snowfall and the ever-so-lovely -30 degree wind-chill, it is almost impossible not to get caught in a rut this winter. The beauty of everyday life fades into the same mundane routine, and what once was an enjoyable experience–like walking to class on a fall day–becomes a nightmare.
The nature of life however, is that there are ups and downs; winter will always fade to spring, which will turn to summer and so on. The beauty of life is that it continues to exist sans human interaction or interference. There is no better description of this overlooked process than artist Wijnanda Deroo’s exhibition, “Photographs.” Located at the Martin-Mullen Art Gallery in Fine Arts, Deroo’s work transforms the artistic space into a contemplative oasis.
Deroo is an artist of many talents. As a Holland native, as well as an American citizen, Deroo’s cultured lifestyle takes her all over the world. From Indonesia to Mexico, she travels with the same question in mind: What is the human experience?
While Deroo photographs everything from the interiors of public buildings, homes, factories and hotels, one uniquely ironic aspect prevalent in her work is the absence of humans. That is not to say that human presence is not implied; everything in her work, like the rogue shoe in the middle of Kraton Kecirebonan Cirebon, 2005, represents human interaction, which is used to examine the effect people have on their surroundings. One would assume that the lack of human presence provides for a desolate atmosphere, yet that is far from true. Her work possesses an instantaneous quality, radiating with energy, as if the viewer is intruding on a personal moment.
With any exhibition there is always a question of “why?” to motivate and guide the artist’s work.  Deroo’s hauntingly beautiful pieces take her interest in the human existence to a new level. Not only are the photographs stunning in their simplicity, but they also encompass a quality of searching that adds a mysterious dimension to her work. She’s able to transform this quality while also delving deeper, looking past the spaces and the people and questioning other meanings of human existence.
Deroo’s photos stray from the standards of conventional beauty and are breathtaking for another reason entirely: her artwork intrigues the viewer. Instead of passively observing her photos, one must analyze every component, from the light fluctuation in a deserted hallway to the pristine bed sheets in a rundown motel, to understand the message that Deroo is trying to communicate.
Unlike other artists, Deroo’s underlying question is apparent throughout her exhibit. With each different snapshot the artist captures, she gets closer to discovering that the human existence is beautiful in spite of its chaotic nature, and even more so when you strip it away.

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