Sham–Real Shadows

Trevor Van den Eijnden
Laser-cut MDF, embroidery thread, custom light fixture, and you
55.8 x 55.8 x 55.8 cm

Sham-Real Shadows isn’t just an aggrandizement of its Familiar Strangers cousin (Interval 09). The pattern, technical aspects, and shape are indeed similar, however as an installation the work creates a space where the audience can be immersed in projected shadow and light of romantic patterning of Nature. It is also a single work that compresses Nature to a single moment (rather than a serial timeline) that pulls the audience in, and implicates them as explorers inside an environment in which they are participants (with or without knowing). As a result it crafts a landscape of shadows and metaphor.


As a master of naturalist home décor, who also rejected the processes of industrialization, William Morris favoured stylized evocations over literal transcriptions of nature, deploring the later depictions as “sham-real houghs* [sic] and flowers, casting sham-real shadows” (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011). In other words, Morris rejects overly realistic depictions of nature in pattern, yet I read this as a statement of desire to do the opposite—to reinforce nature as man-made through highly aestheticized, complex patterning. Close to the same time I came across this quote I stumbled upon the before-mentioned Magritte quote on the strangeness of the familiar (Virilio, 1991, 47). These quotes are the genesis of my thinking around shadows as a source for double meaning. As a part of my practice shadows take on many forms both as substances to manifest, as metaphor for ideologies, as photographic play, and as a presentation of a flattened hollowing out of nature when compared to the real deal.