86_DO06_Bronstein_Simon_Paperwork, and the Will of Capital
Taryn Simon Paperwork, and the Will of Capital, installation view, 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, Venise, 2015.
Photo : courtesy of the artist & Gagosian Gallery

(Im)possible Bouquets

Noa Bronstein
In the seventeenth century, Dutch still-life painter Jan van Huysum (1682 – 1749) depicted impossible bouquets, lush arrangements of flowers that could not naturally blossom together in the same season and location. His illusory arrangements compressed time and space and, prior to modern cultivation technologies, reconstructed nature through an artistic reimagining.

Fast-forward several hundred years and impossible bouquets reappear, more haunted, more troubled. Although modern transportation and communications technologies continue to compress time and space, it is globalization that has made impossible bouquets possible. The globalized cut-flower market has made these once-illusory arrangements an easily attainable reality. Nevertheless, artists continue to depict impossible bouquets of sorts, denoting how flora can lay bare the geopolitical realities of territor­ialization and the continued commodification of nature. The works of Taryn Simon and Yto Barrada reveal the complicated and ironic ways in which impossible bouquets are manifested in present-day contexts.

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This article also appears in the issue 86 – Geopolitics - Géopolitique
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