Diplomatic world Global art forum


We live in a time zone where we challenge science every day, we create virtual worlds, and we also master new technologies in DNA research. We are able to come close to the deepest origins of humankind. We live in a period where CRISPR babies are fabricated, and moulded towards an image of the perfect baby. Before a child gets born we anticipate on creating a superbeing that is a subjective mirror of our projected ideas.

“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

Daniëlle van Zadelhoff creates a new series of art works, portraits that let us observe, take a step back and force us to reflect. The presentation of the new series PERFECTION, consists of 4 different subseries, titled C, G, A & T, representing the four nucleotide bases of a DNA strand.

The series is a work in progress that will evolve further in 2020-2021.

By touching the photograph with an original hair of the portrayed person, protected by the glass only, one could imagine to clone the model of the artist when breaking the glass.

Apart from the images that she creates, Daniëlle van Zadelhoff would like to accentuate human feelings like Empathy, Love, Desire, Sympathy, Kindness, Sorrow or Mourning. The artist wants to show through these powerful images of different portrayed generations how our lives and experiences are mirrored without losing the hope of a humankind world, full of humanism.

The portrayed persons are not perfect, on the contrary. They are living. And these types of imperfection lead to another form of perfection while constructing our lives as a human being.


Wide Open
The Universe of Danielle van Zadelhoff

The human body emits light

This scientifically scrutinized yet mysteriously awesome phenomenon endures through the release of biophotons in the ultraviolet light range by living systems. Such ultra-weak photon emissions have a visibility that is a thousand times lower than the sensitivity of the naked eye. While invisible to us, these particles of light are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, detectable through the use of sophisticated modern-day instrumentation. Yet, there are a scarce few who can “see,” and capture, this obscure stuff-of-the-soul, its inner light and darkness. Rembrandt maintained that a painting is complete only when it has the shadows of a god.

In the place between where Rembrandt’s stroke settles and a camera can magically perceive biophotons, van Zadelhoff’s genius begins. Through the looking lens, she articulates – and takes to its extreme – the simple, everyday expressions of the human condition, bringing to the eye what can only be felt, and to the heart what can only be seen. Van Zadelhoff’s creations possess an uncanny timeliness that is timeless. The singularity formed across the space-time continuum in van Zadelhoff’s work is impossible to parse or replicate. Every portrait contains a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts and cannot be reduced to its graphic elements. Each narrative is as relevant to what it means to be human as it is critical of it. Every gaze is as familiar as it is estranged. Such self-styled contradictions will make you want to miss a subject who is right there in front of you.

Until I met Danielle, I held that the natural world in all its glory – the shape of a tree, structural density of cancellous bone, a riverbed – is as complex and transcendent an image as can be. Through our collaboration on Vespers, Danielle made me appreciate, first intuitively then cerebrally, that human nature is far more sublime. While the science of nature, in its broadest sense, relates to the physical world, ruled by universal physical laws, human nature can be perwceived as a completely separate category from natural phenomena. One that is not well understood, explained, or predicted.

Tolstoy pronounced that man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal aims of humanity. In each of her works, van Zadelhoff articulates this deep yet gentle verity, by studying the geometry of vulnerability, the shape of sadness, and the color of vanity. One is left to wonder if her camera can capture biophotons, when one concludes that she shoots and clicks with her heart: a lens wide open.

Neri Oxman
Architect and designer Neri Oxman is the Sony Corporation Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab

Bruno Devos for Daniëlle van Zadelhoff
M +32 497 52 52 81