/21 Crime

Jonah Samson

Our Lady of the Flowers of Evil

“Our Lady of the Flowers of Evil” is a project that emerged from a large collection of original 1950s crime negatives, culled by the artist from Ebay sources over many years. These startling, historic images were then transformed in the studio, using Charles Baudelaire’s book of poetry “The Flowers of Evil” and the writings of French thief and prostitute Jean Genet as their inspiration. Genet’s statement “there exists a close relationship between flowers and convicts. The fragility and delicacy of the former are of the same nature as the brutal insensitivity of the latter” is a deeply resonating theme throughout all his writings, and becomes the foundation for this body of work. The haunting photographs in this series appear to be the product of multiple exposures, but are in fact entirely produced within the camera as a single shot. By laying the original black and white negatives over a new negative, and then placing the pair back into a vintage 4×5 press camera, the artist then photographs flower arrangements in the studio. The result is a unique, intertwined image created with a single exposure, which appears to be partly positive and partly negative. This very hands-on approach to image-making uses historical elements and analog processes to contemplate the rapidly changing nature of photography in an age of digital production.