ISOLATED (PLANTS)

2008-2010

---

Series of photographs of wild plants photographed in their natural surroundings using a white sheet of paper as isolating tool and back drop.

Various sizes.

---

Exhibition view, Focus Now, Ljubljana, 2013

---


Text by Simen Helsvig

for the publication Lotte Fløe Christensen (I.(P.)#6) by Vandret

One of Dürer’s watercolours, the aptly titled ”Large Turf”, depicts precisely that: three youthful dandelions stretching out from a modest patch of jade-couloured grass and weeds, behind which lies the infinite nothing of the paper slightly dyed by the passing five centuries. The motif could not possibly be less significant, and yet it is one of the painter’s most memorable works.

Dürer’s ”Turf” brings to mind the peculiar nature of botanical classification and the insurmountable distance between species and specimen. The particular, the ”eternal stumbling block of thinking”, had long been a philosophical problem when medieval scholars, who had enough time to ponder these questions, came up with the term haeccitas, the ”thisness” of a thing, as opposed to its quidditas, the ”whatness”. The ”what” of taxonomy, the breaking down into common characteristics, – the shape of leaves, the colour of petals – is scientific generalization, and as such it strives for an everywhere, which is essentially a nowhere. But the illustrated example, no matter the blankness of a drawing’s background, no matter the nowhere of the herbarium’s white sheet, is always a ”this” and a ”here”.

The avid botanist Jean-Jacques Rousseau understood this. He considered botany the perfect accompaniment to his pastoral promenades. His herbarium was not the pastime of an amateur scientist, but merely the recollection – the re-collection – of pastures, woodlands and riversides once encountered. Each individual plant was a ”this”, a ”there” and a ”here”.

In the photograph (and isn’t the photographer also something of a collector?) there is a double haecceity, a twofold ”this”. There is the thisness of the depicted object and the thisness of the print.
The peculiarity of the photograph – which shouldn’t be less ghostly for us than for our ancestors – is that what we see in the print is an object or a person in the real world. And yet.
In this twofold of the photograph, in the very fluctuation between the states of ”this”, or perhaps: like an intangible crevice in the surface, there is something that binds the nowhere of thinking and the there of the world.