FLOWERS OF THE SKY (a medieval term for comets) draws on two panoramic photographs found in a Los Angeles thrift shop that depict a gathering of members of the Eastern Star, a Masonic order. In the first photograph, taken at a banquet meal, the participants are seated at tables and face the camera. In the second photograph, everyone is dressed in ritual robes, looking away from the camera and toward a stage. A single figure stands there, centered on this platform, and faces them. Everyone is suspended, expectant.
Through isolating parts of the photographs and highlighting the different groupings of the Eastern Star members, FLOWERS OF THE SKY reveals and obscures the original events. There is a sense, looking at the photographs, of watching and waiting for something to happen, something beyond the experience of daily life. Something happens. Nature reasserts herself, the figures double, vibrate and rise, trying to escape their emulsive lives, suggesting a rapture that extends beyond their printed world.
The World Premiere of FLOWERS OF THE SKY occurred in the Wavelengths program at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.
“In FLOWERS OF THE SKY, Janie Geiser elegantly submits two thrifted photographs to superimpositions and masking techniques in order to trouble and recast histories of the early 20th century.” - Andrea Picard, TIFF
“Geiser’s frequent use of dissolves and superimpositions in the film gradually wears down our awareness of the visual distinctiveness between the black-and-white photographs she is re-photographing (and tinting in the process) and the close-ups on halftone illustrations. As Geiser ups the pace of movement in the video, introducing plays with mirror and lens effects that look like they’re straight out of the silent avant-garde, distinguishing between these two once-distinct visual forms becomes less of a pressing perceptual issue.” - Ian Bryce Jones, Intermittent Mechanism
“FLOWERS OF THE SKY could be taken as a contrast between the vast, multi-cellular body of women in the photographs and the singular, organic forms of the flowers themselves. Questions of femininity and identity might be considered within this essentially formalist dialectic.” - Michael Sicinzki, Letterboxd