House plants have made a comeback in recent years, serving as a ersatz garden for urbanites. The mother-in-law’s tongue, for instance, long spurned as a symbol of the petit bourgeoisie, is experiencing a renaissance and has long found its way from the stuffy offices of public-sector employees to hipsters’ living rooms.
For her project entitled botanica, which she began in 2012, Gerlinde Miesenböck has been photographing house plants against the backdrop of a white linen sheet. Taken with a large-format camera, her snapshots of this domesticated part of nature that she found in her friends’ homes are reminiscent of historical glass plate negatives that were used by the scientists and botanists of yore to document their discoveries and cultivated species.
Their plain setting recalls the aesthetics of Neue Sachlichkeit with its reflective approach in terms of subject matter, form, technique, and tools, as exemplified by Karl Blossfeldt’s numerous plant photographs. Through her thematic and formal focus and her skillful play with the anachronistic refraction of the images, Miesenböck manages to create a peculiar effect, not least because her treatment of the motif constitutes a typology of sorts.