Natalie Czech

A Critic’s Bouquet by Rachel Valinsky for Camille Henrot
Archival Pigment Print,
2 parts, 107 x 79.4 cm and Offset 33 x 15.6 cm
Work acquired in 2016

2015

Natalie Czech

Born in 1976, Natalie Czech lives and works in Berlin.
Graduated in 2005 from the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf.
Represented by the galleries Kadel Willborn (Düsseldorf) and Capitain Petzel (Berlin).

In order to create her Critic’s Bouquets series (2015), from which this work comes, Natalie Czech commissioned a number of art critics to write reviews of exhibitions. While the critics were free to choose the subject of their text and to write on contemporary art, the artist provided them with a certain constraint: they were to make use of terms stemming from the ‘language of flowers’, a lexicon from the Victorian era that associated flowers and emotions. The work here refers to the exhibition The Pale Fox by French artist Camille Henrot, which took place at the Parisian art centre Bétonsalon in 2014. The text was written by Rachel Valinsky, author and exhibition curator. The words chosen by the author guided Natalie Czech in her choice of corresponding flowers, transforming the text into a strange bouquet, with each flower appearing as a unique specimen. The bouquet created was then photographed, as if ‘presented’ to the artist in the shot. A numbered label, attached to the bouquet, allows us to trace the term associated with each variety of flower. A transposition therefore takes place: an exhibition has become a critical text, which has become a bouquet, which in turn, is transformed into a photograph. The photograph of the bouquet is accompanied by a label reproducing the original text. A game of analogies and displacements is played out between these different expressions, revealing emotions and feeling, in a game of encoding and decoding which sheds light on the paradox between the art of protocol and an assumed sentimentality.

Natalie Czech’s work is mainly photographic, and is born from a conceptual approach, which deals in particular with the relationship between language and images. Her works explore the plastic qualities of the word, in its visual as well as sound dimensions. A range of textual content feeds the production of the images. Her pieces are often based on existing poetic texts. In addition, the artist frequently collaborates with authors, as for the series Critic’s Bouquets or Il pleut by Guillaume Apollinaire (It’s raining by…) from 2012. Different processes are at work here: Poems by repetition (2013-2015), inspired by Gertrude Stein, explores the potential of the device of repetition, both in literature and the plastic arts. Voyelles (Vowels), 2013, is interested in the theme of synaesthesia. Natalie Czech’s references range from Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers to contemporary poetry, including American concrete poetry, and artists from the Appropriationist movement. She also draws inspiration from popular culture, such as magazines and album covers.