27 September 2021

An Elemental Interaction for our Place within Reality

27 September 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

In a series that makes use of performative aspects and the spontaneous interaction of the subjects with stage elements, Angela Lidderdale explores the fundamental role of memory in signifying every bit of our existence, from the inner self to the materiality that surrounds us.

At the centre of my practice is Memory, not only as a concept itself, but how memory shapes our sense of identity and reality. I began to be interested in the idea of memory after my mother was diagnosed and subsequently passed away from a battle with Alzheimer’s. During her illness, I became aware of how fragile memory is and how important its role is in the formation of our sense of self and identity. It shapes our understanding of an object, a moment or even the concept of truth and reality.

I began by exploring memory fragments and examining small details of moments in my own experiences. I examined representation through a series of interventions with everyday objects, subverting their meaning or use or elevating the banal and transforming their intention.

In 2019, I was invited by the Amsterdam-based dance and arts festival, Festival WhyNot, for the first in an ongoing series of collaborations with different choreographers and dancers (both amateur and professional). The structure of the collaborations took the form of a multi-day workshop where participants would begin by exploring a pre-defined theme.

The first one was the theme of the Body and Architecture, with choreographer Connor Schumacher, and was inspired by the socially focused architecture philosophy of Amsterdam in the 1920s. The second, in 2020, was the theme of The Body and Nature, with choreographer Dereck Cayla. We selected three elements of nature, Water (in the form of ice), Earth (in the form of sand), Life (in the form of a tree or tree bark) which were chosen for how they provoke and evoke a tension with the body when interacted with.

The initial time in each event was spent with the choreographer in self-directed movements and group exercises. The workshops then culminated with a photographic session where the participants were free to choose their own interactions and movements.

A "stage" was defined in advance which had preset parameters such as a background "set" and specific objects for the dancers to chose to interact with or not. This was in order to allow for as much freedom, spontaneity, and self-expression of the participants as possible, and avoid a typical "photo-shoot" atmosphere where they were the subject and I was imposing my direction on them.

These sessions became a platform to explore how an object can evoke and provoke an engagement between the body and an object. The dancers own intentions and actions reframes the objects and transforms them. Then by photographing them, my own perspective becomes the subjective record of the interactions and occurrences. Typically, dance photography frames itself with the perspective of a theatre audience and choose to portray the subjects at a distance. Instead, I invaded their physical space and focused on the intimate details of their interactions with the different objects and elements in order to bring the viewer into the moment.

Each image gives an impression you are only glimpsing a fraction of an unknown action and interaction and invites you to question the purpose and intention of what you are witness to.

Words and Pictures by Angela Lidderdale.


Angela Lidderdale is an American born photographer, creative director and designer that has been living and working in Amsterdam, NL since 2006. Her photography practice currently focuses on memory as a perception of reality. She is interested in how the subjective "truth" of scenes, people, or objects can be altered through imagery. Find her on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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