Nature can be a dangerous place. Despite our efforts to carve a niche for ourselves as a species on this planet, we are still vulnerable to disease, poisons, the greater laws of physics, and one another. In her commissioned work for January Biannual, Australian artist Sonia Rentsch creates handcrafted weapons from organic materials. The pieces reflect the human proclivity to use take elements of our environment and manipulate them through technology to suit our desires. Photographed by Albert Comper, the harmless firearms, bullets, and grenades take on a slightly sinister appearance.
Rentsch enjoys creating “deceptively clever scenes from the simplest of objects.” Using plant matter, she reconstructs weapons of metal and plastic, softening their bodies and pulling the man-made objects back into the landscape. The guns are reminiscent of the work of Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Ozawa, who also creates weapons out of harmless vegetables. Dangerously beautiful, the work also looks delicate as it lays on the canvas. Like puzzle pieces, Rentsch arranges bark, leaves, and fruiting bodies to make up the shells of guns and explosives. Although far from functional, they resemble forms which are instantly recognizable and invoke an emotional response.
The artist graduated from Australia’s RMIT University in industrial design in 2002. Since then, she has worked for such clients as Christian Dior and L’oreal. With an eye for composition, she strives to “find the beauty in everything,” even instruments of violence. By fabricating machinery out of plants, she reminds us of the mechanics that underlie all forms, the danger and aesthetics that pervade all things, and the origins of our most basic impulses. Transforming a human creation back into the natural, she also diffuses the destructive intent of the original objects and playfully reinvents their purpose.