On ViewHome Gallery
June 5 – July 5, 2021
In Manhattan’s Lower East Side a single 87 by 87-inch window display snags the everyday passerby into viewership. Everyone stops to look at Diana Sofia Lozano’s installation Suspended In the Iris.
Lozano’s installation is an intricate entanglement of braided metal vines, clusters of pale yellow woolen pods, and violet resin-clay petals. In the center of this twisting, sinuous network, the petals rest in iridescent blue and white striations. Behind, furthest back and abutting the wall, are mirrors shaped like silhouettes of foliage, splayed out around the margins of the thicket. Each mirror is different, their shape tightly curvilinear, like leaves with irregular crenelation. They reflect the red signage of a nearby shop, the license plate of a parked minivan, viewers gazing at the work, and the glint of sidewalk activity.
The display’s glimmering quality confounds the automated focusing and view-finding mechanisms of my camera. For me, failing to secure an adequate semblance of the artwork with a photograph means failing to fulfill an implicit attempt to reproduce and re-distribute it. I rely on the notion, often false, that I’ll pay deeper or different attention to the work through the photograph at a later time. This is an everyday bastardization of viewership that Suspended in the Iris has countered. It evades my generic photographic attempt which creates a sense of immediacy that is exciting. Reveling in the sheen of its reflections is like being blinded by a radiating botanical specimen.
Scientific documentation and artistic designation meet at this notion of specimen. It is one of a kind, and as with many unique objects, the inclination, as crude as it is commonplace, is to put the curiosity on display. Indeed, the meanings of flowers are saturated with a history of symbolization indoctrinated into a canon of colonized iconography, which itself is hoarded and controlled. There could be a bottomless pit of references easily applicable to the iris. But then again, there may be none. The work gives no bent to any canon of symbology claiming to dictate the meaning of a flower.
It's the agitation between my habits of compulsory photographing and viewership that I find most compelling. The double entendre of the show’s title calls to mind the seamless mapping of the photographic lens with the human eye that we take for granted, and our dependence on the eye to give meaning to what we see. To paraphrase Walter Benjamin, the mechanical apparatus has become the standard for our vision. But without the camera, while suspended in the iris, our vision is re-embodied—the symbol re-acquired. Instead of our vocabulary being constituted by a narrow, whitely history of symbols, experience itself becomes the guide by which the viewer attributes meaning to what’s seen. To my surprise and pleasure, being present in blinding reflections without those definitions becomes an unnerving yet bracing endeavor.