Susan Wides - Photographer | Visual Artist - The Name of And

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The Name of And

The Name of And (1989-1993) was made in botanical gardens throughout North America, partly in response to the loss of friends from AIDS. While creating these photographs, I came across the Luce Irigaray’s essay, “Belief Itself” in Sexes and Genealogies. Her words wove through my mind as I articulated the layered associations of the flowers in their seasonal cycle of growth, decline, and rest:

“Love, pain, life and death are kept there, secret, enigmatic, barely breathing out their melody beyond or through all speakable words.”

In my translation of the rich language of flowers, the horticultural nameplates amplify and unlock new meanings. Steeped in myths and cultural symbolism, the names are manipulated to swim in and out of focus to create an interplay of image and words like found poetry—sometimes ironic, sometimes filled with longing.

"The interconnections between nature, culture and cultivation are taken up by Susan Wides in her lush images of roses from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In this series, Wides juxtaposed soft-focus, abstracted close-ups of roses with their classificatory labels, inscribed with evocative names such as 'Playgirl,'' Lady Reading,' 'Chasin' Rainbows,' and 'New Dawn.' Playing off the Resnaissance codification of the "language of flowers," Wides deconstructs the rose as a cultural symbol of sentimentality anchoring traditional notions of femininity and desire."

-- Mia Fineman, ('Foreign Ferns: Botanical Studies from Talbot to the Present,' Julie Saul Gallery exhibition essay)

"Wides's work can be chillingly conceptual, but this quirky series of botanicals has a lushness and humor that's anything but cold. As if through a spy glass )or, she suggests, from a vantage deep in Alice's rabbit hole), Wides vignettes each of her bee's eye views within a hazy black oval. The flowers in Wides's iris shots all have name tags that swim into focus almost by accident and work like found poetry, hinting at romance and pleasure that remain tantalizingly out of reach. Even half-buried in snow, these signs (FEMME, SUMMER FASHION, AUDREY HEPBURN) suggest an ironic but fiercely tenacious femininity, a realm of the senses you can only enter through the looking glass."

-- Vince Aletti, (THE VILLAGE VOICE, Voice Choices, Photo Short List, 3.27 - 4.2, 1996)

The Name of And [Star Magnolia] 1992