A flare emerges from the darkness. The narrow slit in the wall leads to a small, encapsulated inferno. The flame grows stronger until finally reaches its sable maximum. The temperature continues to increase. The air thickens, becoming soft and dry. It turns into an unbearably palpable matter, capable of choking with its weight. Ephemeral lava feels the curves and corners of the narrow oven, creating unbearable conditions.
The glass core is placed in this hellish environment. Boiled until hot, the red and orange soul merges with the colour of heat. It is now nothing but a burning mass of purposeless energy, capable of becoming something different. Removed from within, an attempt is made for the core to meet its organic shell.
Fragile, impermanent flowers are melted with the most vicious of elements. The heated surface burns the plants, turning them, within seconds, into half-incinerated shapes of their previous selves. The burning matter gradually fuses, incorporating the plant-like shadows of ash. They begin to resemble a fractured lava crust, steadily expanding and becoming ever more fragile. In order to sustain their still familiar shape, they are given a second skin. The fine, transparent glass shell quickly becomes one, protecting and preserving the organic shapes within. Turned into a feverish bullet, the materials are forced to merge in order to seal the plants that have now gained their painterly quality. As the burning mass cools down, it becomes heavy with its flowing shapes, seemingly carrying on the memory of its liquid state. Its gained transparency disfigures reality, turning it into grotesque and abstract shapes.
The flame disappears and darkness prevails. The light that once forced the opaque matter into shape, now gives palpability to its transparent shell. Decorated with flowers made of ashes, the post-volcanic glass form illuminates the interior. A flickering light moves through the ceiling, blurring the border between the architecture and the organic qualities of the projected shapes. The flowers had to become ashes in order to turn into shadows. Shapes and illusions painted on the soft arches, reminiscent of the ephemerality of the burning plant. Temporality sealed between the core and crust – a vanishing act suspended in the translucent infinity.
There must be a hidden skeleton within. A bodily scaffolding reminiscent of nothing but an abstract, metal ribcage – an entity yet to be born. The convulsive shapes of the wire veins which become intertwined with one another creating both surprising and familiar presence. Led by a chance of a human gesture they meander through an empty space until the anatomy is carved around it. Stunned and unable to name its bizarre familiarity, one is forced to wait and observe as the metal structure becomes wrapped with a sparse weight of the natural tissue.
Grown thousand miles away from where they were once sold, the discarded leaves fold their fleshy fins around the metallic bone. With time, their grip becomes tighter as they shrink and collapse in order to become its inherent organ. Through this progressive decline the object is given its most fragile layer. The leaf is no longer an ornament – having lost its recognisable appearance it has become an ephemeral landscape of veins, curves and cells.
The organic tissue – once a motif curved in wood – becomes the timber itself. The closer you come the more complex it seems. Its form ceases to be unequivocally described – organic yet studied, decorative but ultimately raw. An ornamental function has been replaced by an abstract form highlighting its own rigid materiality. The organism carved in time and space overwhelms with its sharp, verdant features. But the matter is in constant flux. As the early stages of decay set in, its palette changes from vivid greens to bronze and delicate ochre. The silence is scratched by the dry whispers of foliage transforming and melding until it becomes one compact, mute tissue. In this violent transformation the collapsed and shrunken skin has became very fragile and brittle. If not preserved this radical fall will continue until all matter perishes, and the bony structure once again is exposed.
The organism is therefore given a second skin. This time human gesture is prolonged through a post-industrial machine. Tiny droplets of burning metallic rain cover the organic surfaces, creating an intrinsic sculptural fingerprint. In only few seconds, the perishable leaf is preserved in a metallic cocoon, which will carry on the memory of its past form, long after the plant itself has turned into dust.
It is only now, when the metallic fossil has emerged from the slow process of creation, one can understand its enigmatic familiarity. A frozen and reshaped memorabilia referencing17th century furniture emerges before you – constantly becoming and carrying on the memory of time, space, material and the creative act.
There is an unfamiliar story behind. Unknown to me, or them.
They surely were not born into this silent stillness. They didn’t grow into this somber freeze-frame, of the thick and inanimate materia. They would not be able to force themselves through this stone like matter. Given their shape and arrangement – they were once free to move and grow. Given the delicate curve of their petals there must have been a wind slipping on the surface of their delicate figure. Exposed in the fields and meadows, relishing in their ephemerality – they wouldn’t choose to preserve themselves in this intimate moment. Plant caught blossoming like the prehistoric files caught mating millions of years ago.
Now there is nothing but silence. Devoid of familiar sounds off life-giving bugs and bees, unable to feel, they seem to be forever caught within this peaceful temple of amber like materia. Their dynamic silhouettes prove – the matter itself must have been once liquid. You can see how its heavy flow have pushed down the involuntary plants, as if the gravity would change its rules. But who shaped this form they have been forced into? There must have been a conscious gesture, which opened the sea of the involuntary possibilities. There must have been a hand which poured the hot liquid giving this enigmatic hybrid its current form.
Pensive you navigate through the depths of this frozen image. Just as you seem to have discovered the enigma, a loud sound breaks the silence. Its hard to describe a sound but this one is easy – its the sound of ice-cube creaking when you poor warm water onto it. Only if the ice-cubes were gigantic and the water was an ocean. The sounds repeats and echoes through the the empty room – it seems to have come from within. Once again, look closer. Navigate more vigilantly. An explosion. You see it clearly now – a paused erosion, which began but never fully corroded. It froze within just like the plants themselves.
Is this amber creature dead or alive? Was it the flower which continued to blossom despite the pressing materia? Or was it perhaps the ongoing chemical process within? Maybe you didn’t give enough credit to the invisible human hand. Maybe you forgot who chose to preserve this plant, who arranged it within the overheated materia. It was the human hand which so thoughtfully manipulated this new environment, prolonging and breaking the process of creation so that his manipulation continues within the object – after it has been formed. You can now feel it loosing its temperature. Bubbling and creaking continues, as if the energy was making its final escape. Finally the silence prevails. I guess it was only the plant that was carried the chance possibility.
There is a certainty, the rejected and trapped flowers have once been flooded.
It seems their excess have accumulated somewhere within a deep and dark hollow. Imagine how devoid of light, with a little air to breath they shrink and condense. Dry, lighter than ever they lay upon one another, unwittingly creating a porous net of layers and veins. In a complete silence they remain as one, within the shadows of their cavity.
As they linger, the remaining breath between them becomes flooded with thick, dark matter. It hugs the flowers with its cold ubiquitous arms. The resin flow moves slowly through the porous web, sticking to the walls, imperfections and details. Its weight presses and divides the delicate tissue of petals and stalks. The movement is gradual but inevitable. As all remaining light is cut off, the flowing material solidifies, fossilising the blinded plants in a chance manner. They plunge into temporary obscurity.
Once again silence prevails. In order to compensate for the darkness they have been trapped within, human hand begins to carve out the monolithic material. Fine, lengthwise cut returns the light, by exposing the petrified flowers in their most fragile, anatomical detail. Bound by the resin they have become a vein running through the layers of creation. Marble like, painterly patterns emerge from the abundant, solid matter – surprising with an unexpected array of colour combinations and ornaments. Fully exposed, the cosmos of natural adornment unravels; petals, stems and buds unveil the anatomical arrangement of their shapes and properties. They now constitute the stone like matter – a conscious material that emerged from the involuntary action.
The initial gesture, the one that came long before the flood – is now projected on the reclaimed slabs. Hand-led machine, repeats the gestural movement of the prehistoric line, shaping and taming the (in)submissive material. The meandering contour separates surfaces, finding the missing parts within. As a separate elements, they lay flat like an undiscovered planes of possibilities. Slits cut within, suggest their journey doesn’t end there. For soon they will collide and merge in order rise up as one, monolithic entity. Its aesthetic will be determined by nature itself and will become a representation of the intricacy that only flower architecture can achieve. Drawing on the familiarity of a household furniture, the structural assemblage of planes creates an object that encompasses the uncertainty of gesture, with a monumental confidence of a sculpture.
A celebration of an ephemeral material has turned into a developing installation. From decay, which became its inherent element, an alternative universe has emerged. Within its realm, the process of degradation and rotting gains the qualities of progression. Objects displayed at different stages of decomposition reference domestic and architectural forms. When displayed in the context of a permanent matter such as discarded metal, one is stunned to find a common quality in them. Now, more than ever, metal proves to be impermanent. With its corroded parts, rusted arms, and crumbling joints – it shares a similar beauty, complementing this unstable universe.
When you circulate through the installation, it embraces you, enticing you to reflect upon the contemporary consumer culture, while continually exposing and celebrating the processes of decay, destruction, renewal, and reconstruction. The overall experience pushes you towards this uncomfortable desire of wanting to preserve this fluctuating universe.
But this time, the artist offers no such solution, no relief. The sight of a familiar glass box gives you a glare of hope which quickly dies as you notice the corrupted vases inside it. Instead of building an incubator which could preserve and stop the progressing decay, the artist has created an environment in which bacteria thrive. This compact microenvironment creates stable and controlled conditions which allow you to study the progressing decay, while increasing the kinetics of the decomposing vases. Once again, this manually controlled habitat becomes a space for experimentation where different processes can be studied, decelerated and expedited. The objects displayed within this humid incubator are extremely vulnerable to bacteria and enzymes diffused within, accelerating the processes of disintegration and decay. Captured behind the thick glass, the objects are exhibited to the public eye in their most vulnerable state. Their refined form becomes corrupted and flesh-like. Before our very eyes, it changes, becoming pale and fuzzy. Covered with a moss-like fungus, it begins to resemble a half-eaten fruit rather than the former object. Yet somehow, in this intimate moment, we manage to find an intricate beauty – a meeting point between the past, the present, and the future.
Imagine a living matter – an organism, a plant, a flower. One that has a life of its own. Imagine it turned to grains, to hummus, in order to become a timber of a future object.
Imagine a process which is a balancing act of what is living, dead, permanent and perishable.
The grained material has been forced into a symbolic shape – a vase. An object which is likely to be preserved for centuries, an evidence of the perished cultures. Layers of organic timber are gathered and reshaped into a sublime form, which fuses the material giving it a common purpose. Plants, flowers, shellac, beeswax – the layers create one, as if they have forgotten their origins. The object they have merged into is so seductive in its balanced, timeless form, that one forgets the ephemerality of materials it has been made of. Drawn to it, you don’t realise the unprecedented obsolescence planned for it.
Its limited lifespan relies on the habitat it is placed in. Whether it is a shelf in a house, a plinth in a gallery or a pedestal in a park – the object becomes united with its environment. External conditions inherit and continue to shape the object, making creation synonymous with decay. As the temperature and humidity increases, the Vase begins to melt, swell, fall and shrink. It becomes a dynamic form in the state of constant flux. As you observe it over the years, you are overwhelmed with the heavy feeling of loss. Bewildered by its sublime qualities, you develop a relationship with the object, one common to all. You are a used to the perishable, you didn’t feel the same sorrow when your printer died. It is different – the sense of the inevitability of the decay pushes you to preserve it no matter what.
But the progressive deterioration makes it change its shape and structure. It melts and transforms becoming something different. Its’ familiar yet monstrous aesthetics makes you pensive. Is it still the object you wanted to preserve? Was it worth building the glass incubator around it? The transparent structure, with its delicate walls, defines new a habitat for the boiling matter. Like a scientist, you can observe as it gradually reacts to the changing conditions. Enclosed within the safety of its manually controlled environment, the deterioration begins to slow down until it finally stops. The object no longer relies on the external conditions – it becomes entirely dependent on you. Through its volatile form, it seems the object communicates with you. Within those balanced conditions, its matter no longer struggles. It solidifies, turning stable and calm. It becomes a lasting image, sculpted within this delicate matter of preservation and decay.
Used to the fragrant flowers from your childhood memories, you continue to smell the flowers in a ritualistic and futile gesture. The scent, like taste, cannot be captured on a film – it can, however, be represented by colour. Imagine a scentless flower – pale, ghost-like. This most probably is how the flowers nowadays appear to insects. The bees could not care less about the longer vase life, size of the petals or thickness of the stalk. Furthermore, the smell they would be attracted to we could consider nauseating. The plants are so dull, they might as well be transparent to them. Scent was the first one to lose the race towards the ideal flower.
For many centuries, floral trade has developed into an art of manipulation. The growing consumerist culture, intertwined with the flower trade boom, led to the point where flowers cease to represent the qualities that were once considered valuable. Science and technology successfully made what is basically a bouquet of sexual organs, stop acting as such. As the market grew and customers’ preferences changed, a quest to create the prefect flower blossomed. The ideal plant would not only suit our subjective and rather questionable taste, but also meet the high requirements of the breeders or the big and small sellers. The cut flower industry has begun to struggle between what is natural and unspoiled and what is mass-produced and commercial. Although we didn’t yet manage to change the flowers’ main purpose – which is to reproduce and die – we continually try to make it please an ever wider audience in the meantime.
One cannot help but wonder – where will this journey lead us? What would this perfect flower look like? What form should a hybrid of such diverse human desires gain – is it possible to encompass them within one genetic mash? The artist began to work with plant geneticists, horticulture specialists and engineers in an attempt to create a super bloom. They created a plant that would meet all of the industry’s requirements. But since perfection is always monstrous, their work became a balancing act between expectations and what is possible. Altering the incompatible species by hand, a palpable body was given to the artist’s research. A physical organism was born out of studies and research. Constructed rather than born, the most elaborate species constituted the monstrous creature. Unfamiliar, bizarre shapes joined together embodied an impressive but rather delicate organism.
The monstrous yet ephemeral creature was given a more stable cast. Scanned and 3D printed, the plant has turned into a nylon, bone white, sculpture. Haunting within its glass cabinet, it is a lasting symbol and reminder of the compromise between longevity and scent, colour and shape, what geneticists can imagine and what flowers will allow.
The ceiling have filled with the thick and black clouds. No light could penetrate them. The dark vapour amassed under the arched dome until it became almost palpable. As it became too abundant to withstand its own weight it began to condense in a form of the black rain. It was not heavy, but consistent. The black droplets kept falling down from the ceiling, leavening the fertile grounds and floors. But the earth could not withstand such plentitude and became soaked with the black liquid. One by one, the ponds began to shape. Theirs cyclopean eyes turned towards the expanse od the ceiling. It seemed their multitude could soon turn them into lakes, and those into seas and oceans.
But the storm stopped. As the waters calm their surfaces become sleek and calm – once borderless, they are now defined by a fine, metal line shining from the darkness. As the dark pond of resin solidifies, a multitude of colours begin to appear.
The flowers which rejected from earth, are pushed towards the light gradually resurface in the thickening black matter. You can now see how shallow is the pond. As the light begins to struggle through the darkness it slowly uncovers the plants suspended in the dark enigma of time and space. Moving slower and slower, the matter thickens filling its wide borders to the brim. With time both flowers and light find it harder to struggle through the darkness. It seems it was the stillness of air which solidified the resin, freezing the plants within is stiff arms.
In this manmade climate, two types of environments are formed. The initial urge to incorporate the natural world in decoration by preserving, rather than representing, transforms into micro-environments encapsulated within their resin vessel. The two share a common origins, but are represented by radically distant qualities. The first one is stable, calm and silent. The plants within are permanent – they linger, suspended in time and space like the Flemish masters on the museums walls. This peaceful environment leaves them forever mummified, in their finest momentum. Their ephemerality have been successfully preserved, and stretched into eternal blossom. Nothing will break their explosive silence.
The second, is one of the flux and change. Bacteria introduced to this ornamental environment begins to penetrate the tissue within. The vegetative matter begins to transform and mutate. The material is a side effect – it evolves over time. Its creation is not mechanised not orchestrated. The environment susceptible to evolution allows it to continue living within its enclosure, until it finally shrinks and disappears, replaced with the light filling the negative space of floral cavities.
There is a certain difficulty in working with a durable material. How can one sculpt within something which refuses to be transformed and doesn’t succumb to the human gesture. There are possibilities of forcing such material into form but they still mange to escape the immediacy of gesture. One needs to find a solution, a shortcut in order to speak through it directly.
The artist once again begins with the discarded. This time, it is not the flower markets that he explores but the debris and rubble. He searches for the elements, which no longer serve their purpose. Useless lumps of rusty metal – spit from within the earth, gathered and altered by men, used and discarded back to the ground. They merge with whatever substance they have been covered with. The air penetrates their solid bodies, giving them a soft, corrupted skin. The gravel, stones and dirt cling onto it covering with fungus-like cheeks. In this quasi-organic state, the artist collects them and redefines as a sculptural forms. He merges the ready-made elements which through time have transmuted into their current form. This act of fusing the two is an emotional and direct intervention within the metal tissue.
But what if one could recreate the closeness of tool and medium so inherent to painters? Is there a way in which this immediacy of gesture can be translated into metal?
Liquified metal, is spit out of the gun in the mist of thousands hot droplets. Metal turned to liquid, liquid into gas. The gas turned into gesture and the gesture into solid material. A process born out of the desire to preserve something more ephemeral than a living organism – an emotion. The metals merge with one another in a manner which paint, merges with a cloth. Colours of earth and ochre are reintroduced onto the sleek forms of the base objects. The mineral od earth becomes a prolongation of the human hand in the most direct and immediate way. It is a shortcut between persistence of the material and elusiveness of a single gesture.