In his silent film Untitled (Beautiful Place), 1998, Paul Sietsema observes eight different plants for two minutes apiece: a starry pink poor man’s orchid; a purple passionflower; a succulent in a rocky, arid zone; a forest dainty caught darkly among pine needles; a verdant hedge thick with elongated leaves; a chic attenuation of paper whites; a houseplant, common, overlooked; and, finally, perhaps in the solar role of illumination, Gerber daisies. During my visit to Sietsema’s studio, in Culver City, California, the thirty-year-old artist told me in passing about one of his first experiences of “art”—as a child, he drew pictures of flowers to give as gifts, to mother, to the loved one. Artifice’s bouquet, culture is of course etymologically rooted to cultivation, and flowers, pretty, cultivate some of the earliest experiences of beauty, its various ephemeral meanings and refusals to mean.

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