BY Elfie Semotan in One Takes | 30 JAN 13
Featured in
Issue 8

Elfie Semotan: A Cup of Tea

Choose a single object of special significance from your working environment

BY Elfie Semotan in One Takes | 30 JAN 13

Photograph: Elfie Semotan (courtesy: the artist)

I depend on so many things that at some point I decided I no longer wanted to be dependent, at least not on an object. Instead, I began to satisfy that need with whatever I found, wherever I happened to be. But for a long time, there were two things I always took with me wherever I went: a pair of teacups belonging to my grandmother. I was 30 when she died and from among her things I chose two cups that reminded me of her. They gave me a feeling of belonging.

Tea, its flavour and aroma, has accompanied me since I was 11 years old. When I came home from school to an empty house in the afternoons, it provided comfort. Later, it kept me company in my reading and through all my earliest joys and adventures. As a familiar ritual and an almost perfect pleasure, tea embellished the moment for me and made the world somehow manageable. Today, I usually drink a specific blend: half Lapsang souchong and half Earl Grey. It has a slightly smoky taste and I enjoy it with milk and sugar.

Only one of my grandmother’s cups has survived. An ex-boyfriend threw the second, more beautiful one against a wall during an argument, knowing how hard this would hit me. He was right. I left him immediately. That cup was a symbol for so many things. I no longer dare to take the other one with me when I travel – for fear that it too might break.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Elfie Semotan is a photographer who lives and works in New York, Vienna and Jennersdorf. A retrospective of her work opens in July 2013 at Kunsthalle Krems.