Georgia Rhodes (MFA 2015) is currently an MFA candidate in Photography at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Her work converses with the landscape, both real and imagined. By subverting the ease with which we navigate familiar notions, her work challenges expectations of how a person is supposed to consume the natural world. Her project Flora non Fauna is a meditation upon the conflict between our need for contact with nature, and the desire to control it within our domestic spaces.
“When we’re frightened, the instinct to flatten comes through in remarkable ways: swatting the fly, whacking the spider with a shoe,” writes Rhodes. “Growth in consideration of landscape is a confusing notion, the need to keep it aligned while also preserving its foothold in our world.” In her series Flora non Fauna, we are presented with the ways in which a home environment and the natural world intersect – a need for contact with nature, yet a fear of it. Her photographs portray the ways we attempt to regulate what lies outside, before letting it in: an obsessive need to frame, to encircle, to straighten, catalogue, limit. The images seem quiet in the hush of a persistent worry, yet a certain satisfaction rings through the geometries of control.
From Rhodes’ statement: “There is an obsession with curating the chaos, delicately organizing what we find tenuous, striking a balance with what scares us. We fight to find some measure of success at keeping the wild out yet we still crave it in our lives. It’s in the tablecloth with the strawberry vines, a patterned dress with yellow flowers, an increased saturation, a carpet mimicking what we constantly mow down, four little bugs all lined up in a row.”
A wall of vines and vegetation glows threateningly in its disorder, yet perfectly pruned roses and bouquets appear accepted, framed by space and man-made boundaries. Running throughout Rhodes’ images is an ever-present flatness, an instinctive reaction to nature’s infinite depth and impenetrability. They are documents, according to Rhodes, of interventions – “caused by the struggle to keep out.” The natural world, it seems, may only enter our homes if it can be forced to follow the rules we impose upon it.
All images © Georgia Rhodes