James Welling: Flowers, 2005

04/25/2007 12:00 AM |

In the Horticultural Society’s springy green and white gallery, James Welling’s photos hang among shelves of books and sprouting plants. The exhibition is a series of placid c-prints: seven photograms of plumbago blooms and one colorful photograph. It’s a destabilizing take on photography: Rather than recording a moment in time in the context of the real world, Welling’s images are fabricated on his own time, in his own sudio. The plants are arranged on sheets of film in order for their silhouettes to be captured by exposure to light, and then they’re printed in vibrant color (there’s an emphasis on exuberant reds and yellows). The resulting images are dreamy, psychedelic renditions of the shapely flowers, which in places fade into their crisp white backgrounds as if part of a receding dream. Welling has used the process of photograms — a stagnant art associated with youthful experimentation in summer camp photolabs — and lifted it into the realm of the sublime.