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blog. 23.08.2016

blog. 23.08.2016

In Zin Taylor’s photographs, palm trees take on strange dispositions in the fog

Zin Taylor, a Canadian artist who lives and works in Brussels, is known internationally for his elaborate installations, which encompass elements of performance and sculpture along with drawing, printing and video. Taylor has made narration an essential component of much of his work, and many of his installations have also been accompanied by publications.

In the essay that accompanies his Palms of the Fog photo series, Taylor writes, “Here we are, we’ve arrived on an island jungled with palm trees. Soaring thin trunks, crowned with extended leaves, sway in response to the traveling wind.” The story starts in January of 2013, when he awoke in Santa Barbara, California, to a foggy morning, the sluggish white haze obscuring the palm trees that line the street. Venturing out with his camera, he captured the somber scene, viewing it as nature’s manifestation of his well-documented interest in stripes and spots (the trunk of the trees could be stripes and the coconuts nestled within the fronds spots). He noticed how the palm trees seemed to take on strange dispositions in the murk, and the fog transformed color images into black and white, which Taylor viewed as a metaphor for memory. “Memory can be quite poetic, subjective, and therefore transformative,” he explains. He also viewed the fog as the breath of a narrator who translates memories into spoken or written form, an ongoing theme in the artist’s work.

Have you made other series based around or inspired by plants?
In 2010, I did a book called Plants Do Things. In it were photographs of exactly that, plants doing things. Gambling, talking to Einstein, jumping into the frame of a photo late at night, waving from a window, creeping on a sculpture of a naked lady.

Do you have a garden or plant collection at home?
My apartment is full of books, records and plants. A 4-foot nightmare cactus, a 6-foot palm, a couple hanging-creeper things, and then a host of other little ones, many of which are picked up in traveling. I’m a huge fan of jade plants. One in particular is a gem: It’s a clipping taken from the wild jades growing around the Eames house in Santa Monica. I brought it back to Brussels in a Ziploc bag and grew it. In a way, I see it as carrying on some of the spirit that was planted and maintained by Charles and Ray Eames, now transplanted to my apartment in Brussels.

Why do you think plants are so enchanting?
Plants are forms that grow and change in space. Get enough of them together and the view in the space changes quite dramatically. This seems obvious, but there’s something about looking into an arrangement that can take your thinking away from the present. The forms of a plant are signs of growth, a relationship I liken to how thinking changes a subject, taking it into areas maybe not considered before. Plants also witness a great deal. I like to associate their growth to what is occurring around them, that their form can lend back suggestions for thinking differently.

Read the full interview in Strange Plants II.