213cm x 122cm
HD video installation, stereo audio, 2 minutes looped
projected on black velvet screen
[cover image: installation view at Or Gallery Berlin, 2012]
The Dutch Golden Age saw the brief emergence of a phenomenon that is today known as “tulipmania” (1633-1637). During this period the tulip, an ephemeral object without use value, became the subject of intense economic speculation and its—at times astronomical—prices were determined to a large degree by its colour. Parallel to the trade with tulips, the early sixteen hundreds also saw the emergence of an active trade in paintings and art objects. Paintings of this period often featured “portraits” of the most valuable tulips in a given collector’s possession.
The valuation of an ephemeral object through artistic representation, and by extension, the rise of the valuable art object as a sign of high culture experienced an odd reversal in the fashion of black velvet painting, particularly popular in 1970s North America. The technique of painting on velvet actually originated in the Kashmir region (incidentally also a native region of the tulip) where velvet itself was first produced around the 8th century A.D. and where it was associated with nobility. By contrast, velvet painting of the 1970s became emblematic of lowbrow kitsch and cheap emotion.