All around us and within us, cells grow and die, lifeforms are born and reproduce, populations wax and wane. Our universe is comprised of chemical reactions organized in cycles of creation and decomposition.
Australian-Polish artist Renata Buziak (b. 1973) presents these patterns through a fusion of organic and photographic materials, brought to life in a process of decomposition, which she calls the biochrome. Her images are created by arranging medicinal plants on photographic papers – containing gelatine – which creates a breeding ground for microbes and other elements of decay. These entities and interactions create their own pigments, resulting in richly coloured images reminiscent of our recognisable seasonal changes.
The image, Buziak emphasises, is not simply a photographic document: “It is also the result of ethnobotanical and anthropological consultations with the indigenous Quandamooka community of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) an island off the east coast of Australia.” Each plant species was chosen for its medicinal usage, drawing our attention to the extent to which our own lives are dependent on the emergent life surrounding us.
Medicinal Plant Cycles was featured in GUP#55, the Wonder issue.