Ikebana (Sans Genitalia) 2019 

Direction Julian Harold
Photography Jelena Luise
45 X 65 CM
C-Type Print
Satin Paper
Edition of 1

Ikebana (Sans Genitalia) imagines a scene of abandonment: obscure waters humans have left behind; beauty and hideousness in a very last battle while nature is dramatically finding its rights again. Freeing its plants and flowers of human damage, a victorious nature is unfolding its indomitable tentacles to impose its universal laws. As a tortuous tableau, the still emanates from ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers or making them alive as translators would argue. Dating back to the seventh century under the Heian period, the tradition is rooted in floral offerings which were made at Shinto altars while at the same time poetry anthologies on the subject of flowers were written. Until the sixteenth century when it reached its first zenith under the Edo period, ikebana could exclusively be accomplished by men alongside with kōdō for incense appreciation and chadō for tea ceremonies. The early modern society of Japan was thoroughly divided by a class system which sorted people by their varied social roles: nobles, samurai, Shinto priests, Buddhist monks, farmers, merchants, and lower-class citizens. The Edo period is characterised by a unique opening to Western sciences. As a consequence, women living under the first Japanese modern era enjoyed considerably more rights and equality. to men than anytime in local history. Aesthetically influenced by Chinese medcine manuals and depicting erotic scenes, shunga panels expressed an idealisation of urban life to a wider audience. First published in 1716, Onna Dairaku Takara-Beki or Great Pleasure for Women masterfully parodied the influential women’s moral and educational conduct book Onna Dairaku Takara-Bako or Great Learning for Women. The daughters of wealthy merchants would be trained to take over the practice of these three classical Japanese arts of refinement. Although considered an ode to beauty and spirituality through hanakotoba, the Japanese form of the language of flowers, ikebana remains undoubtedly related to class hierarchies as well as gender separation. Ikebana (Sans Genitalia) imagines a natural tableau with no human interaction, neither their arbitrary concepts nor the intervention of their hands. Nature unveils one of its most inestimable secret: a fourth of its flora is monoecious, a condition when male and female reproductive organs are found on the same plant, while another fourth is hermaphrodite, a condition in which a flower contains both androecium and gynoecium whorls, and finally perfect flowers which contain both stamens and carpels are described as bisexual.

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