Monday, January 29, 2007

Bee Flowers

Bee Flowers is an extraordinary photographer based in Moscow. He explores topics that range from Dutch suburbia, to Palestine/Israel and the West Bank to Fake Plastic Trees to Megastructure (Russia's urban planning) to Decommissioned Nation (the former Soviet Union) to Dachas and more.

His website itself is a work of art - one of the best websites I've seen full-stop, and certainly one of the best photographers sites. It's worth spending some time exploring. Click on a theme, follow a quick tour or go to the Gallery Index. There are also some great essays on there by Luis Gottardi (here among others) very well worth searching out.

I'd be hard put to pick my favourite work, so extensive are his projects. I've picked a few images from some of my favourites though.

Bee's work has recently been exhibited at the State Museum of Architecture in Moscow - the pictures of the show itself look fascinating - as well as the Yaroslavl Art Museum and the Astrakahn Art Museum.

Rumour has it Flowers is a Dutchman living in Moscow, a Russian who has lived in Holland and even one of the new Russian Oligarch's who does this on the side... (for the record I believe the first is true, but a little mythology is always good for an artists reputation... okay, he's probably going to kick my arse for that) - either way, despite the name, one thing he isn't is a 16 year old girl... (at least we don't think so) - even though I seem to recall someone hitting on him on the Streetphoto list under that assumption... not a pretty sight.

Flowers has also published some hand made artists books of his works. I'm saving up for one, and I've heard from others they are quite stunning.

From the introduction to Megastructures:

Ideal City
The clusters of large apartment blocks in Moscow, which form the central subject of this series by Bee Flowers, are called 'microrayons'. Sharing design & historical DNA with public housing and high-priced, free-market condominiums in many parts of the world, microrayons became a universal form of housing in Russia. Land, being government-owned, available, and plentiful, resulted in these units sprawling radially from the core of the city to its periphery. The architecture and design was not due to costs or other market pressures, but from an idealistic Communist vision of what a city and nation could be.

This Utopian vision of a functional cosmopolitan worker's collective would be facilitated, in part, by design, materials, and layout of the housing. Homogeneity in design was supposed to eliminate competition and individuality, creating a viable alternative to Capitalism. Instead, it resulted in density increasing as one neared the edges of Moscow, left dead industrial areas nearer to the core, caused high transportation/ supply/ maintenance costs and alienation. The early five-story version of these structures were referred to as 'khrushchovkas', derived from Nikita Khrushchev who initiated their construction around 1954, having released thousands of political prisoners from the Stalinist era, creating an instant housing crisis in Moscow.... (Luis Gottardi)

(below: diptych from Decommissioned Nation)


Anonymous said...

I too was astonished by the quality & quantity (esp the panoramics). And now, I'm equally astonished (and embarassed) to discover that she's male...

C'mon! Bee???

Luis said...

Tim, I am honored to be quoted on Muse-ings. Bee's work is not only incandescent, but his output, and the radiating variety of ideas is rare.

All I can say is: Stay tuned. There's more on the way from Bee's Hive. I am fortunate to own several early books (and prints) of his, some of which are still available, and at prices that I consider a steal.

Anonymous said...

No big mystery. Checking on his domain registration shows he's Bernhard Hoeven.