Unstill Life

left: light cast through Untitled Window Screens (RGB); right: Unstill Life

The Dutch Golden Age saw the brief emergence of “tulipmania” (1633-1637). During this period the tulip, an ephemeral object without use value, became the subject of intense economic speculation. Parallel to the trade with tulips, paintings and art objects began to be actively traded. Paintings of this period often featured “portraits” of the most valuable tulips in a given collector’s possession.

By contrast, black velvet painting of the 1970s became emblematic of lowbrow kitsch and cheap emotion. Particularly popular in 1970s North America, the technique actually originated in the Kashmir region (incidentally also a native region of the tulip) where velvet itself was first produced around the 8th century A.D. and where it was associated with nobility.

The video features time lapse footage of tulips that were colour manipulated to have RGB (red, green, blue) stems. Their animated movement is accompanied by the sounds of the shipping and handling floor of a flower auction house.

2012
HD video installation, wood, velvet
2'20" looped
W213cm x H122cm