from Modern Painters Magazine (England), Summer, 2004
New York - Hybrid: Photographs by Dietmar Busse and Doris Mitsch
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...
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.
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.
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