Photo lapses, late nights, decay, and the accumulation of debris; these circumstances may appear as a randomized assortment, but have one particular quantifier in common: time. An essential aspect of Marco Braunschweiler‘s I want to be an honest man and a good writer, currently on view at Document, is how time and location intersect to configure the discourse on a consumer’s life-style. In Braunschweiler’s case, this discourse is focused on the commodity of flowers.
The species on view could be none other than the iconic Lilium Oriental Stargazer; pictured in three of his UV curable photographic prints on Plexiglas, bookended by time-lapse videos of the flower. The Lilium Oriental Stargazer was domesticated by Leslie Woodriff in 1974, given its name because it turns towards the light. These time-lapse film works similarly function as a still life; the flowers opening and closing in response to the light – as exterior daylight transforms into artificial interior lighting in the environment of the film. In Zachary Kaplan’s essay that accompanies the exhibition, he notes that Braunschweiler has been purchasing these lilies for the last 18 months, a practice that also includes analyzing the process of its distribution. The flower are sourced from shops located in proximity to Braunschweiler’s studio. In Untitled (Newspaper 13), which was also released with with Dominica Publishing, the artist documents the wrappings of his daily purchased flower bouquets. The bouquets come wrapped in plastic and discarded newsprint, such as Korean weeklies or old LA Times. These selected wrapping items show the inescapable immediacy of the product – shrouded by the most economically affordable parceling, while also adding an inadvertent timeliness to their presence. The prints on view in this exhibition reveal both the sturdy flower and its wrapper; unfurled to show the newspapers’ featured commercials and articles.
It is an arrangement that refocuses the usually often-overlooked parts of the flowers’ presentation. I remember staring at this part of the packaging as a child, as I would eat street food in Pakistan – the newspaper that was used as a wrapper formed an intimate connection with yesterday’s headlines, and my present consumption.
Not unlike that experience, the discarded newspaper articles become figures here themselves, as if they were looking out of the paper and waiting to be examined in detail. As Braunschweiler points out, the consumers of these flowers discard the wrapper for the commodity housed inside of it – while the visual focus remains on the flowers, the newspaper is both the subject and the forgotten object. Braunschweiler targets this potential space for empathy, in an attempt to make the newspaper as desirable as the object it holds. This often ignored intimacy inherent within commercial products is figured into the works, showing us how slowly, and over time, these flowers make us view these once lapsed moments, now in focus.
–– Marco Braunschweiler, I want to be an honest man and a good writer at Document runs through July 26, 2014.
Published in THE SEEN.