Roxy Paine
beauty/dream/danger

Crop (Poppy Field), 1998 (detail)

A small section (approx. 60in square) of a poppy field sits incongruously in a corner of the gallery. At once a cash crop and the source for narcotic dreaming and pain-killing, the poppy is a complex signifier. Replicating the poppy is in keeping with the artist's inclination toward the menacing and mysterious in nature: there is evident disquiet in considering the contradictory aspects of this plant's social useage.

Note: The labor-intensive way this sculpture was created duplicates the production of Natural History diaramas: every bulb, leaf, stem and petal is hand-cast from molds the artist takes from actual plants, then painted to fool the eye. It is interesting to consider that this work would be equally at home in a pedagogical, scientific setting, where it would appear merely in keeping with the quality and intent of other imitations on display. The same questions raised by this work's presence in an art gallery might well be asked of stuffed elephants and octopi, too.

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