Curator and Catalogue Essayist: Tami Katz-Freiman
Published by the Bass Museum of Art, Miami
Michal Shamir’s works contain actual natural vestiges that have been carefully collected, classified, and preserved – leaves, thorns, flowers, birds, insects, cobwebs, mold, stamens, earth, and ashes. These vestiges of life are delicately and compassionately gathered and ordered in a scanner, where they are arranged into garlands or scattered across the surface. The scanned images call attention to the astonishingly real-looking details, to which the artist sometimes adds watercolor and pencil drawings based on plant and insect handbooks. Insect joints, cobwebs, and grains of sand are scattered throughout the compositions. These images, which are reminiscent of flowers dried among the pages of a book or of 17th century Dutch still lifes, are transformed into large, stunning digital prints. Shamir\’s concern with the vanitas tradition offers a reminder of the ephemerality of life. The beauty and freshness of the flowers alludes to their future decay, while their detailed, pseudoscientific display underscores their withering and dissolution. Shamir walks the thin line between attraction and repulsion as she confronts living beauty with its fragile and ephemeral essence and highlights the Romantic quality of death and melancholy of decay.