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from Modern Painters Magazine (England), Summer, 2004

Reviews: New York - Hybrid: Photographs by Dietmar Busse and Doris Mitsch
Anna Finel Honigman

At the ClampArt gallery, New York-based Doris Mitsch digitally constructs portraits of bloated blossoms using a flatbed scanner, while German fashion photographer Dietmar Busse channels the scandalous turn-of-the-century ballet luminary Vaslav Nijinsky from his starring role in Michel Fokine's 1911 ballet, La Spectre de la Rose...

In Busse's photographs of himself naked and decorated with bright petals, blossoms, stems and leaves, he is scrawnier than Nijinsky and less arresting, but they recall the iconic sexuality of la Rose: a muscular man covered with soft, fey flowers. Busse’s flowers were originally whole, freshly cut blossoms that he tore and reconfigured into mythical new forms to adorn his naked body slathered in black or white body paint. He used them to transform himself into a series of mythic creatures, from demigods to fairies, which evoke the most alluring carnivalesque aspects of Matthew Barney’s stills without the pretentiousness. Thus, he dangles petals off the ends of his toes like impotent claws, piles them over his calves, transforming himself into a wily satyr and pastes their thin surfaces on his mother's naked body, the only other model in this series.

Busse blooms under his floral covering, while, alongside, Doris Mitsch uses flowers as memento mori. Mitsch scans voluptuous flora and fauna into her G4 Mac before manipulating their colour and scale in Photoshop and printing the images using archival ink on handmade rag paper. The original flowers vanish while the computer, as a contemporary surrogate for human memory and the three-dimensional storage of information, enables the flowers to live in perfect, abstracted form.

However, the results are not idealized and pristine. Mitsch’s blossoms look engorged and luminous but alien. The beauty of flowers is vague and sensual but Mitsch focuses attention on their veins and pulp. For example, in Lotus 3, the petals of a blossom fold tightly onto themselves, puckered in the centre where the bud would have opened. The petals in Lotus 7 are greenish white and curve upward like artichoke leaves, framing the vacant center. Seen extremely close in Lotus 10, the soft forms are so layered and complex that they seem almost threatening. While Busse’s flowers are acually present as part of the image and work to highlight his muscularity, Mitsch’s are fleshy and tender because they are really only the ghosts of things that once existed and were discarded after they were used for her art. Whose worldview would better perpetuate the species?



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