The words “black” and “garden” may together conjure up an image of a rotting garden, but Lauren Fensterstock's installation – consisting of black plants, soil and mirrors – looks far from rotting. In fact, the garden actually looks very elegant and beautiful – something that black and white interior design enthusiasts would absolutely love. By bringing two words that are never associated with one another together, Fensterstock has shown that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
“In part, my use of black was inspired by a tool called the Claude Glass,” the artist tells us. “This was a small handheld black convex mirror allegedly developed by painter Claude Lorrain. Tourists in the British countryside used to take these mirrors into gardens to find and reflect ‘scenery' – revealing a preference for a highly controlled image of nature. At the beginning of developing this body of work, one of my central questions was, ‘How can I create a black mirror that reflects my own view of nature?'
“By removing color from the work, I am able to focus on form. The mass of black appears, at first, as a large undefined whole and then reveals itself as a complex system of parts. For me, there is something metaphysical about this shifting back and forth from whole to part, from minimal to ornamental, from a modernist ideal of form to something culturally specific.
“Intuitively, I find black beautiful, mysterious, elegant, and radiant.”
Fensterstock further describes her installation by stating (on her website), “Here, landscape is manipulated to look like a painting; the earth becoming an expression of man's view of nature rather than man's true experience of nature. History, decay, and disorder are all potent tricks of the picturesque gardener, giving way to a knowingly melodramatic visual array. It is telling that we call these views scenery. Like a stage set, the picturesque garden was created as a site for the dramatic display of human experience.”