Don't forget your flowers, Mr. Katz!
In the life of a bouquet of flowers there is occasionally a photographer.
And in the life of a photographer there are sometimes flowers. That’s what happened to Benjamin Katz, and perhaps it was meant to happen to him.
All his life he has been making portraits of artists. Thousands of portraits, not of thousands of artists, but of a few dozen nonetheless. No need to recall all their names. Certainly more than you might think. He discovered them before anyone else. After all these years of being there, after all these works he has shown, that he sometimes was even the first to see, to have, to show, he comes out of his house, let’s say in the morning, on the day he usually buys a bunch of flowers at the market. This bouquet of the day, easily obtained, he takes it upstairs to his home, puts it in a vase, puts it in his world in always the same place, on the cooker, and takes a picture of it. The ever same photo with the same lens and, as he repeats this operation, he ends up, fair weather or foul, with a sequence of days with flowers, like those calendars from the post office. Except we are not actually counting the days, we actually notice just a few variations. The flowers change, the water of the flowers is changed, even the photographer changes a little, yet the image does not change, it remains a bouquet. The photograph does not capture an identity. Much rather an alterity. An otherness that, in its vessel, wilts toward uncertainty. There is not much to be gained from knowing the name of the flower. Flower painters in the past told entire novels in their paintings. The photographer’s flowers are not that scholarly. They simply metamorphose each in their own way. And then, they join the circle of all those flowers that you always wanted to show before they perish. In the memory of a photographer born in Antwerp, have tulips ever disappeared? In the memory of a rose at least we have never seen a gardener die. Back off, old reader of incantations. It’s one bouquet for other bouquets. And only one photograph for all the other photographs. Do not disturb, memory in progress!
© Eric Darragon