Flower Power

Elisabeth Gerber, september 2003

Peeping through a keyhole is always morally ambivalent.  The observer enters a space that he or she is not allowed into and risks being seen as a voyeur. Adela Picón (born 1958 in Barcelona) deliberately takes advantage of this game of desire, prohibition and shame in her installation FLOWER – POWER. She closes the space down and encourages the visiter to perform a forbidden act: to peek through a window. What the observer sees from the outside is of perplexing beauty, exotic, very feminine and therefore capable of captivating the observer and seducing him.  

The three windows of the exhibition-space casts the view onto three slide projections on the opposite wall. At regular intervals, life-sized seated women appear out of the darkness with bright images of flowers caressing the chair and their naked bodies. In the left-hand upper part of the screen the name of the place appears from where the flowers originate: Kenya, Hellas, Bali, Norway, etc. As in the baroque period, under the influence of the book "Iconología" by Cesare Ripas, published in 1593, there is a staged scene of countries represented by female allegories. But a closer look contradicts this reading. The artistic intention of Adela Picón is to break with the pre-established rules.

The process of dissolution is already shown in the way the visuals are treated. The slides of flowers that the artist uses are from an archive of a botanist, who had carefully photographed and catalogued the typical flora from each country she travelled through. These pictures in the installation are shown out of context. New meanings in connection to the female body are revealed.

Her clear reference to Modern Art cannot be overlooked, like Henri Matisse or Gustav Klimt, who took the first steps towards abstraction, in combining feminine and ornamental elements. Also, in Adela Picón's work the bodies seem partly dissolved and fragmented.  At the same time, through their pictorical quality and vibrant colours, the images evoke preconceived heavenly fantasies about femininity and the exotic. Nevertheless, the casual relation between countries and women brings such prejudices into question. Looking through the glass, these "paradises" seem strangely distant and lost. 

The reality of the image is highly artificial - and at the same time touching. The models are always integrated by the artist into the same setting, varying only the projected flowers and country-names, as well as the women’s postures. In contrast to this conceptual approach is the intimate character and uniqueness of each photo session, which is more evident through the models often shy or clumsy movements. The view through the window becomes always a voluntarily-involuntarily, forbidden intrusion into an intimate fleeting moment.

The installation FLOWER POWER also evokes memories of the time of the hippy movement. She focuses on diversity and the unreflected use of norms and attributions.   Adela Picón reveals the seductive power of baroque imagery and engages her audience in an open but precise encyclopedia of names, images and meanings.