Paperwork and the Will of Capital by Taryn Simon
These flowers sat between powerful men as they signed agreements designed to influence the fate of the world.
The bouquets in her new series are based on floral displays present at the formal signings of dozens of agreements between nations and other dominions. They are part of the “stagecraft of power,” as Simon describes it—silent witnesses to the unfolding of world events. Using archival sources, Simon worked with a botanist to identify the various species in each bouquet. After ordering some 4,000 blooms from Aalsmeer, in the Netherlands (“the Amazon.com of flowers,” she says), she re-created and photographed them, surrounding the resulting images with heavy mahogany frames reminiscent of boardroom furniture. The flowers themselves were then dried, flattened, sewn into herbarium paper, and placed in columnar concrete presses that Simon designed.
For the new work, Simon’s investigations yielded twin points of departure: archival photographs of official signings; and George Sinclair’s nineteenth century horticultural study containing actual dried grass specimens, an experiment in evolution and survival cited by Charles Darwin in his groundbreaking research.