[rohrpost] EVERYBODY WELCOME: THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
info at i-a-m.tk
info at i-a-m.tk
Do Okt 4 23:41:08 CEST 2018
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
October 5 – 7 2018
Opening: Friday, Oct 5 / 19h
@ Abteilung für Alles Andere / Ackerstraße 18 / Berlin-Mitte
Karl Blossfeldt, Campanule des Acores (Campanula Vidalii), nd.
Sarah Jones, Cabinet (XI) (Orchid), 2014.
Tereza Zelenkova, Poppyhead II, 2017.
Nikola Zelmanowic, Woven Jacquard, 2017.
Rut Blees Luxemburg, Urban Vine, 2018.
In Spring 2011, a popular revolt occurred in Tunisia that is generally known as the Jasmine Revolution. Jasmine is culturally important in Tunisia with the white blossom widely understood as a symbol of purity; the revolt against President Ben Ali aimed to clean up corrupt government and to purify the country. Hence the linkage of jasmine and revolution. Other countries, too, have had emancipatory moments that are associated with flowers. In Portugal the overthrow of the dictatorship of General Salazar in 1974 is often called the Carnation Revolution, referencing in particular the soldiers who put carnations in the barrels of their rifles. More recent examples include the Rose Revolution (Georgia, 2003), the Tulip Revolution (Kyrgyzstan, 2005) and the Lotus Revolution (Egypt, 2011).
Flowers continue to be powerful symbols of collective hope and liberation. Yet at the same time, they are also strongly linked to death and disaster. Thus, improvised floral shrines abounded in the vicinity of the Twin Towers shortly after the September attacks in 2001. And comparable contrasts exist more modestly in everyday life, most obviously with the ubiquitous presence of flowers at celebrations and mournings, weddings and funerals. One can confidently assert, then, following anthropologist Jack Goody, that a culture of flowers is pervasive and near universal, with strong historical roots going back to the Ancient World.
The exhibition presents four contemporary artists with an interest in flowers. Rut Blees Luxemburg and Sarah Jones are both teachers on the MA Photography programme at the Royal College of Art, London. They are joined by two of their recent graduates, Tereza Zelenkova and Nikola Zelmanowic. Guest of honour is Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932).
Berlin-based Blossfeldt photographed magnified plant details that were frequently used as reference material by Jugendstil artisans at the start of the 20th Century. In many ways, he was a jobbing photographer whose status as an artist came later. Above all, it was the New Photographers in twenties Germany who hailed him as a prophet for his unpretentious photographic records that identified close affinities between natural forms and numerous styles of architecture. He was also hailed in France at roughly the same time. Some writers, like Amédée Ozenfant, re-iterated the ideas associated with New Photography. But dissident Surrealist Georges Bataille took a different line, selecting images by Blossfeldt that appeared base and sexually charged, undermining the familiar association of flowers and elevated sentiments. Campanule des Acores, used to illustrate Bataille’s article ‘The Language of Flowers’ (1929), is included in the exhibition.
Cabinet (XI) (Orchid) by Sarah Jones is part of a series recently exhibited at Maureen Paley Gallery (London) and Anton Kern Gallery (New York). Each image could be described as a black monochrome. Hints of the paintings of Kazimir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt, to be sure, but her monochromes are produced in the darkroom and also contain diverse subject matter. In this respect, (Orchid) is emblematic. Intense blackness dominates the image, gently disrupted by a fragile white flower.
Poppyhead II appears in Essential Solitude, a book and an exhibition by Tereza Zelenkova with multiple allusions to life around 1900. One can reasonably assume, therefore, that her close up, shadowy image is intended as a homage to Blossfeldt. However, at the start of the 21st century more sinister associations are unavoidable. Consider a narco state like Colombia – in the highlands, beautiful poppies in bloom and in the lowlands, their conversion into cocaine or heroin for global distribution. A vivid instance of how flowers frequently represent the ‘intertwinement of life in death’, to cite anthropologist Michael Taussig.
The series Speculative Acceleration by Nikola Zelmanowic includes the image Woven Jacquard. The vivid floral headscarf is a familiar sight across Central and Eastern Europe, and in this case was photographed in Croatia. The artist informed me that he has a keen interest in the language of flowers – now often forgotten – that informs this traditional attire. Here, though, his concerns are slightly different, deploying a variety of experimental techniques to translate an analogue photograph into a digital image with new, indeterminate meanings.
Rut Blees Luxemburg lives and works in London, a megacity in which globalisation is experienced on a daily basis with the continuous movement of humans, technological transfers, financial flows, data streaming, changing ideological currents, and so on. Urban Vine was included in her recent exhibition Eldorado Atlas (Paris: Galerie Dominique Fiat), photographed in her local neighbourhood, close to Old Street. Atlas alludes to the incommensurable megacity, whilst Eldorado references the surreptitious re-appearance of nature in seemingly inhospitable surroundings. The two aspects are condensed in the single image of a local corner shop with a wild vine blossoming in the shadow of a satellite dish.
Appropriately, the exhibition is displayed in the form of floral wallpaper.
Georges Bataille,’The Language of Flowers’ (1929) in: Allan Stoekl, ed., Visions of Excess: Selected Writings,1927-1939 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), pp. 10-14.
Jack Goody, The Culture of Flowers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Michael Taussig, ‘The Language of Flowers’, Critical Inquiry 30:1 (Autumn 2003), pp. 98-131.
The Language of Flowers (Revisited) was curated by David Evans and designed by Rachel Pfleger. It is shown at the Institut für Alles Mögliche (Berlin), 5 – 7 October, 2018.
www.maureenpaley.com <http://www.maureenpaley.com/> (Sarah Jones)
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