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The Glass Veil: Seven Adventures in Wonderland


Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

In this collaborative work between artist and theorist Suzanne Anker and art historian Sabine Flach, the study of image production unveils the reality of pictures beyond their function as mere representations of the world. The visuals range from firsthand accounts of specimen collections in historical medical museums, to scientific research laboratories, to studies of plant propagation, among other themes concerning life forms and Bio Art. Focusing on systems of artistic knowledge, the authors demonstrate how context, scale and framing devices alter meaning in pictorial systems. Somatic responses, classification networks and image banks are explored as they relate to intersections in visual art and the biological sciences.
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Dialogue IV: Laboratory Life / Genetic Seed Bank: Suzanne Anker & Sabine Flach


Figure 45. Suzanne Anker, Laboratory Life (Dresden), 2004. Archival inkjet print on paper, 24 x 36 in (60.9 x 91.4 cm). ← 120 | 121 → ← 121 | 122 → ← 122 | 123 →


Sabine Flach: In Laboratory Life, you superimposed images of gardens over photographs of scientific research institutions. Although this technique was executed through Photoshop, it does reference the double exposure as used by the Surrealists in the 1920s and 30s. How does the double exposure function in your work and what part does chance play?

Suzanne Anker: Double exposure as engaged by the Surrealists was an experimental photographic technique intended to produce uncanny images. In effect, it was an unpredictable way of exposing the unconscious, by mechanistic means. Along with photograms and solarization, double exposures expanded photography’s graphic capabilities. For example, in Man Ray’s portrait Marquise Casati (1922), the sitter appears to possess two sets of eyes. While this image is not congruent with reality, psychologically speaking, the portrait is arresting.

In Laboratory Life images of gardens and scientific apparatuses mingle, creating a tapestry effect that could not be achieved by a single exposure. In Laboratory Life (Dresden) (fig. 45) we see a gloved hand that appears to be made of hay, perhaps a reference to the classic straw man in the Wizard of Oz, a character who didn’t have a brain. Assuming this is a fortuitous critique of the molecular sciences or just an incidental coincidence,...

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