LATENT IMAGE

LATENT IMAGE

Rita Mendes-Flohr

The Kambucha mushroom, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is commonly cultivated as a health potion. Fascinated by the evocative nature of the gelatinous membranes suspended in copper-colored liquid, I started to grow the mushroom as the subject of my photography. On a glass-top table, in jars of many shapes and sizes, my studio turned into the laboratory of an alchemist.

The Kambucha is fed sugary tea and produces a sour, fermenting liquid. Its slimy membranes sprout contorted tails, grow pimpled flesh, or flowing veils that spread out and colonize the jar, forming a translucent film between the exposed world above and the hidden aquatic realm that is swelling down below. Lighting the mushrooms from below with a cool LED light that broadens the spectrum of the dominant browns, my macro lens revealed the latent images of an enchanted world.

In the exhibit Latent Image, I examine the thin line between sensuality and morbidity, the esthetic and the repulsive. I challenge our relation to bodily fluids and secretions, to the natural processes of menstruation, pregnancy, birth, ejaculation, sickness, atrophy, death. I tempt a voyeuristic gaze – asking if that objectifying and penetrating look at things forbidden can be turned into an inner view of the sublime. I invite the dive into the unconscious – to conjure up memories of the polymorphous sensations of our early childhood that have been censored out of our categories of language.

Rita Mendes-Flohr

 

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