“Searching for refuge from cold cities & cold shoulders I found my way to greenhouses. These manufactured landscapes offered a safe haven from the volatile environment beyond the glass panes. Amongst the flowerbeds and foliage I discovered my own suppressed potential & yearning to be taken care of. Like these flowers, I am constantly uprooted: my desire for stability thwarted by revolving seasons and temporary living arrangements. My constant shuffling and need for stability further propel my own state of fragility.” –Autumn Jordan on her project Domesticated
Autumn Jordan is a visual artist currently living in Somerville, Massachusetts. Her work explores themes of domesticity and presentness through the mediums of photography, sculpture, and performance art. In 2014, Autumn graduated from Bennington College with a concentration in Visual Arts. She enjoys hand processing, slow mornings, plastic cameras, origami, the ocean, and greenhouses.
Laura Knapp: How did your interest with manufactured landscapes begin? Was the relationship between manmade & natural creations a topic you focused on before this project or was this a recent fascination?
Autumn Jordan: It was born out of a rut. Last winter, I was living in New York City, something I had always dreamed of. After years of dreaming of this magical city of opportunity, I found myself in a gray spectacle of anxiety. My desire to get away from the city lead me to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, weekly, sometimes daily. I found refuge in these controlled landscapes, mini utopias hidden among the chaos outdoors. I guess you could say that my infatuation with manufactured or controlled landscapes was born out of a desire for stability. Much of my work has always been focused on harnessing some sense of control while graciously welcoming the uncertain.
LK: I noticed that, despite the topic of manmade creations, you made the decision to showcase the flowers as beautiful objects in the photos that are more close up. Other than the lighting and occasional fence in the background, I didn’t realize right away that these photos were of well maintained plants that are contained in a manmade structure. What made you photograph some of the flowers as if they were growing naturally in the wild?
AJ: I’ve always had a distinct fascination with the beauty of flowers and foliage. This, coupled with my desire for solace, is what brought me to Vermont for school in the first place. My work is speaking to that, a desire to bring some honesty to the things I keep so hidden. Despite uncontrollable circumstances, these flowers continue to grow. I believe some of the more close-up, distorted photographs of these flowers bring honesty to the beauty of the will to flourish.
LK: Due to the quality of light and/or the selective focus, these photographs have a very dreamlike personality to them. Was this a conscious decision? If so, what were you saying about the location and plant life with the added ethereal elements?
AJ: The dreamlike quality of the photographs reflected my desire for elsewhere. I couldn’t have presented a photograph of roses as rose or agave in a desert-like landscape and felt content with what I was doing. I wouldn’t have been inviting the viewer to question anything and I certainly would not have brought them elsewhere. For me, the photographs become most ethereal at their printed size, it is only then that these miniature utopias become fully encompassing and finally depart from their original state of being.
LK: Who and/or what were your biggest inspirations for creating this project?
AJ: I think my constant admiration of other people’s gardens & desire for a controlled environment of my own lead to the making of this work. As for the photographs themselves, they are printed 36 x 36” on three 12 x 36” strips of Kodak Color Negative paper in order to fit through the color processor. This entire project was a desire to harness control in a point in my life where I felt I had none. To flourish beyond my limits one last time while I had unconditional support & the facilities to support the work. The making of the work itself, from greenhouse to garden show to printing & installation enabled me to regain control in the chaos.
LK: I would love to see more photos like these with maybe more climate specific plant life. Is this a finished project or do you hope to visit more greenhouse locations in the future to expand your project?
AJ: The work is still evolving. I recently discovered my new favorite greenhouse; a small oasis attached to a family-owned grocer. I am always admiring someone else’s garden, and I am hoping to grow my own someday. I’m starting small, with houseplants and fresh cut flowers. The illusion of the natural harnessed within an interior landscape. I don’t know if it’s so much about the different environments as much as it is about the different places I look to for solace and stability.
LK: Is there a specific photo in this body of work that speaks to you the most?
AJ: The two works I printed for the Senior Show are visually my favorite, the amount of days and hours I poured into making those prints certainly aids that. Not entirely related to the body of work as it stands conceptually, but on one of the rolls of film, is a photograph of my best friend at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. She was the first one to make the trek to the greenhouses with me from the Upper West Side, and a photograph of her gazing up in awe of palms and vines, the entire frame slightly hazy from the humidity of the hothouse.
To see more of Autumn Jordan’s work please visit: http://www.autumnjordan.com