From early on humans have constructed their understanding of botany and the life of plants from a viewpoint that reveals a threshold between nature and culture. This threshold is also evident in the motif of the Hortus Conclusus, the enclosed Renaissance garden, which was a popular motif in 15th Century European painting. It featured a number of naturalistic floral depictions inside the garden, amongst which the Holy Virgin was centrally placed. T\On one hand the plants in the garden manifested a realistic depiction of the non-human world, on the other they were intended as a symbolic representation of divine creation and holy attributes of the Virgin.
Inspired by the Hortus Conclusus I raised and photographed seedlings to investigate our rational as well as our emotional engagement with nature. The images describe the beginnings of life for a plant, when the seed’s dormant energy changes into an incredible growth spurt, a moment of existence when life is incredibly forceful and exposed at the same time. They could be read as portraits.
Simultaneously, at this wondrous sporophyte stage, plants defy most attempts of human categorization and without their developed mature properties seedlings are difficult to classify, even for a botanist. We don’t always know what kind of plant we are looking at.