The power of flowers to transform time and space is the idea behind emerging German artist Amely Spoetzl’s new public art project for artlab21 which launches tomorrow. “Just a Moment, Please” — coinciding with the launch of the gallery’s Beyond the Surface exhibition, which features the work of two additional emerging artists from Germany — involves placing free pop-up flower dispensers at specific locations throughout Los Angeles. After the jump we chat with Spoetzl about the challenges of working in public spaces, the hidden meaning behind the flowers, and the first bouquet she ever received.
Flavorpill: Your work usually involves nature in some way — what challenges did working with flowers bring to this project? What do flowers symbolize to you? How did you pick which types of flowers you’d give away?
Amely Spoetzl: The experiences I’ve had through my work with plants vary widely. Working with fresh flowers on location creates mostly logistic challenges. For the last couple of years my studies have concentrated on form and language within the world of plants – a physiognomic approach, if you will. Blossoms of fresh flowers touch me in a very special way. I see the form and gesture of blossoming almost as a philosophy of life: An unconscious demonstration, unique to every flower, of a thoroughly and instantaneous dedication to life. The selection of flowers for each location can be very complex or very spontaneous.
FP: In a way, this project invokes the spirit of America in the ’60s. As a German artist, how do you view that time period? Is it as romanticized for you?
AS: The ’60s weren’t on my mind while I was developing my ideas. But thinking about the era, I can see a relation. The interferences and interactions of meaning and information create a new context and imagery depending on the location and time my flower dispensers are positioned. That is what the work is about: Each situation and setting will create new questions. Why not those of romance and poetry?
FP: Any project that relies on audience participation forces you to surrender a bit of your artistic control over the end product. Do you have any preconceived notions about how LA audiences will react to your work? Do you think it will go over as well in other cities? How did you go about choosing where the dispensers would be located?
AS: I do not have specific expectations, though I am just very curious about the momentum of our intended interventions. It will simply be a process of watching what is going to happen given the location and time of each installation. The German art photographer and artist, Bernd Zoellner, will accompany the project, another part of which will emerge on a journey across California before it continues on to Europe. It will be interesting to see the reactions in London, Paris and Berlin. Most certainly, the language of each location will be different. The locations and timing will be sensitive to the composition: I’ll decide day-by-day, depending on my view and mood as well as on the sensibility and language of each location.
FP: Can you remember the first time someone ever gave you a bouquet of flowers? Do you have a favorite type?
AS: I recall a gift of flowers from a friend at my religious confirmation. They were presented in a bowl and I was immensely impressed and studied them with great interest. My favorite flower is always the one right in front of me, the one I am studying.
FP: What do you hope people walk away from your dispensers thinking?
AS: I hope to create a moment of irritation. Maybe astonishment. The project might create room for a new sensation: in the best-case scenario, the sense of receiving the gift of a moment in time. The unexpected change of everyday life and linear experience of time will create a subjective and especially meaningful interruption, giving space for individual flashes of sequences which are parallel to time and wide open for association.