Untitled (In Lieu), 2017, video documentation of kinetic sculpture, artificial flowers, foamcore, electric turntable.
Throughout the centuries and in many cultures, flowers have become a powerful symbol of birth and death, of celebration and mourning, of commemoration and memory. They exist in a space between life and death. Once you cut a flower it begins dying. It appears alive but it is slowly, imperceptibly perishing. During this time, it is neither fully alive nor entirely dead.
Fake, or artificial flowers have been around for centuries. They make sense in a world of where flowers are deeply temporary, seasonal, scarce, and fragile. The presence of a flower where they cannot appear must have seemed magical in the 12th century but in our time this simulacrum of nature has another meaning. In the hot grief of death, people gravitate toward freshly cut flowers but in the years after mourning is replaced by commemoration and memory. I found in my many trips to the cemetery that new graves had fresh flowers and older graves had artificial flowers, perhaps chosen for their longevity and as a message meant to last long enough for other people to see. These objects, artificial flowers, are designed, manufactured and sold to participate in an act of remembrance.
For this piece, Untitled (In Lieu of Flowers) I walked around local cemeteries and collected old desiccated and discarded petals from artificial flowers that have deteriorated and broken apart. I found that new graves had fresh flowers and older graves had artificial flowers, grief for the newly dead and for the ancestors, remembrance. I sorted them by color and placed them on a rotating surface in the graduated color wheel. The spinning color wheel looks similar to a macintosh computers expression of thinking when it gets hung up in operations. It’s the computer’s signal that it is struggling to remember.