Arja Hop & Peter Svenson

Searching for Florachrome, 2023

Arja Hop and Peter Svenson work with analogue photography, studying nature through natural physical and chemical processes. Since 2015 they focus on analogue photographic research projects in which they aim to give a voice to nature and – in particular – the plant world.

As a duo, Hop and Svenson work on long-term projects that depict the colours of plants (through the use of colour dyes) and their habitats. In so doing, their work seeks to gain an understanding of the influences of outside factors on the tonality of plant based colour dyes, their specific compounds and what this means. The resulting images are determined by the nature of the material rather than our perception of it. Observing, identifying and analysing their surroundings provides insight into what happens under the man-made layers of constructed reality.

Searching for Florachrome was specially created for the exhibition Life of Plants. Hop and Svenson gathered plants from the area around the VU ART SCIENCE gallery in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district. From these plants – with Dutch names like bezemkruiskruid, zomerlinde, grauwe wilg en beklierde duizendknoop – they extracted the natural colour dyes to convert them into photographic images (dye residues). These dye residues are presented in a matrix on one of the windows of the gallery, transforming the window into stained glass that will color the interior of the gallery during the day. Alongside the dye residues, also presented are the research process and a number of extracted dyes. Together the work presents an alternate understanding of the Zuidas district, showing the variety of plants that have managed to thrive within this rigid urban landscape. Moreover, in bringing them back to a chromatic essence, the work opens up questions about how man-made landscape and nature interact.