This series of flower photographs was made in direct response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Waking each morning to the grim counts of contagion and death, I was moved by Alain de Botton’s essay “Why Art Gives Us Hope”, in which he discusses the therapeutic potential of beauty in times of despair. When I encountered the last open shop in the downtown flower market on the day all businesses in Los Angeles were forced to close, I gathered dozens of flowers, which I purchased or found in the trash. Possessed by the immediacy of the crisis, I photographed the blooms as they metamorphosed every day throughout April, May and into June as I watched their transformation, which continues to this day.
Never in my lens-based practice have I worked with flowers, which I thought too pretty and sentimental. At this particular moment in time, however, the resilience, fragility, and symbolism of the flowers compelled me. Everyday as I tracked the news and arranged and re-arranged bunches of exquisite booms, I asked myself again and again: Is there still a place for beauty?
These photographs were made in the spirit of imbuing the clichéd bouquet and the solitary flower with darkness and light, as a reflection of this singular moment in time when the customary rituals of celebration and mourning, as well as the objects and symbols that accompany these rituals, exist in a broken state.
Using the tools at hand—light reflectors, clamps, tape, a black cloth—these simple arrangements were made during an unprecedented time when the toll on society, the economy, and human life has been high, while at the same time the earth is being renewed.
Working alone under restrictive conditions, making these images sustained me over the course of many meaningful weeks in the studio. The flowers gave me something to focus on, to devote my anxious energy to, as they allowed me to care for them through the last days of their lives.