Flora as a metaphor

Silva Kalcic

Darko Fritz's floral installations are artistic interventions into the urban tissue which use regular horticultural materials: flowers, grass, humus and gravel. If they quote computer information it is usually a standard error report programmed in the machine. These projects operate with organic growth, with the exchange of substances as a metaphor of information exchange. The symbolic content of a flower and its aesthetic perception as a fragile and ephemeral thing have been added a conceptual content (by contrast, Jeff Koons' huge floral puppy combines form and materials producing a sugary and sentimentally kitchy effect, which corresponds to the definition of art as a means of manipulation).

By combining formal images (typographic solution, schematic composition) with informal (vegetation, growing according to its own laws), floral installation establishes itself as a model of the visible world; plant cycle is an epitome of the life cycle in general. It gives "landscape art" novel meanings, acknowledging though that the use of plants for allegorical and associative purposes, so called "natural philosophy" (Constable), is not new to art. Contemporary art, however, does not mimic nature; instead nature mimics art and the schematic arrangement of the man-made world. Floral tapestry is a measure of the relationship between nature, architecture and town planning (the location of a project is always a place of intense social interaction). Disregarding common perceptual conventions, Fritz's composition can fully be viewed only from the air (a self-sufficient "view without a viewer", according to Virilio. The perspective from a speeding automobile, which involves a sort of anamorphosis and Cartesian perspectivism, collects visible data, fixes them and unites into a single field of view. In the relation of the object of viewing and visual medium, Darko Fritz seemingly accepts, and employs in his work marketing strategies socialised into the consumerist society. He uses English, which has been declared the universal language of contemporary art by sociolinguistic , and information technology discourse. After all, textum in Latin means web .

The allegorical use of plants has been common in the history of art, but modern visual symbolism has separated itself from earlier iconography. Modern art refuses representation ("representation-in-difference-and-representation-of-difference", according to Chris Jenks). Darko Fritz's floral installations are the means of communication, and the typographic layout gives them a narrative dimension. It is worth to note that letters were first shaped with reference to an animal, human motion or a thing. Letter "a" represented a bull's head, which opens the myth of the Labyrinth. The form of letter interweaves with the urban landscape and text subdues its setting, introducing virtual symbolical imaginary into the real world. The deconstruction of the visible, of a visual sign and of the structure of image is central to art today when the stress is laid on illustration and "visual production".


Translated into English by Dado Cakalo

Published in Oris [magazine for architecture and culture], Vol. VI no. 27, 2004, Zagreb

> see horticulture projects by Darko Fritz: The Future of Nostalgia [2002], 404_FILE_NOT_FOUND [2004], 302_MOVED_TEMPORARILY [2005]
> see more texts and publications