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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 VII: Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) / Remote Sensing: Suzanne Anker & Sabine Flach


Figure 75. Suzanne Anker, Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) series, 2013. Inkjet prints on paper mounted on board, 42 x 42 in (107 x 107 cm) each. Installation view of Rainbow Loom at V Art Center, M50 Creative Garden Shanghai, China, 2014. Photograph by Henry G. Sanchez. ← 166 | 167 → ← 167 | 168 → ← 168 | 169 →


Sabine Flach: With the series Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) it seems that for the first time you create compositions from “found objects”– pearls, feathers, flowers and so on – in your work. Could you describe this kind of shift in your use of materials?

Suzanne Anker: Whether found in nature or industrially fabricated, my materials are arranged in small Petri dishes. Like a little Wunderkammer, disparate objects from various origins are assembled in one setting. The objects are chosen for specific physical attributes or symbolic value, as they similarly function in historical vanitas paintings. In prior centuries, such paintings warned against the excesses of material culture and its progressive corruption of spiritual values. In Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) the viewer is presented with images of dead insects, fruit-stuffs – which will decay – bones, skulls, minerals, fresh and dried flowers, eggs, metals, glass and such. They are some of the robust offerings from the Earth’s pantry. As simple warning about the delicacy of life, we pause in front of this array at our own wonder. The arrangements pictured here are reminders of both...

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