Astilboides 2068
Flora supersum is a project by photographer Lena Granefelt that deals with the beauty in death and the struggle for survival, portrayed through the existence and will to live of plants.

Flora supersum

Can plants think? Eat, make war, or die? And, if so, what do they feel when they prepare for death?

Lena Granefelt’s photographs are poetic studies of the life of plants after flowering and seeding. In her latest project, Flora supersum (‘supersum’ from the Latin for ‘to evade death’ ‘to keep living’), she has photographed seed heads, capsules and pods, all of which bear life and death in one and the same form. Thorn apple and skullcap, tufted vetch and snapdragon struggle for the survival of their species. The strongest – the one with the cleverest way of dispersing its seeds – survives. It is a case of what Thomas Hobbes called bellum omnium contra omnes – the war of all against all. The garden becomes a theatre of war, a battlefield.

But it is also a place that calls to mind a kind of beauty. Seeds, whether embryonic or withering and decomposing in a state of extreme decay, are of course rarely portrayed in floras or gardening books, but they are just as typical for plants as are splendid blooms and leaves. Why? Could it be our fear of death that causes us to overlook their luminous promise? For hope and the future flourish amid the death and decay.

In Granefelt’s photographs, every seed capsule becomes a personality, every dry seed head a bearer of new life. Photographed in the studio, they stand out as proud, beautiful and, occasionally, humorous portraits. The withered flowerbed is transformed into a theatrical stage, dramatically lit, where the principal actors attack each other with passion and eloquent monologues. Life and life more abundantly: for when spring seems furthest away we feel most intensely what everything really involves – an eternal cycle.

The project Flora supersum is a five year project that deals with the beauty in death and the struggle for survival, portrayed through the existence and will to live of plants. At a deeper level, the project also touches on issues of life and death, geographic borders and movement for all living beings.
Flora supersum Book cover

From the book Flora supersum

”In the most Swedish of all Swedish summer idylls – the red cottage with its traditional little garden of peonies, lavender, marigolds and sweet pea – the plants often originate from entirely different places than Sweden. The marigolds and lavender come from the countries of the Mediterranean, the sweet pea from south-eastern Europe and the peonies are a Chinese-Turkish hybrid. Here, plants from all over the world co-exist, and have done so for a long time. In the world of plants, there are no national borders; no visas or residence permits are required. They grow side by side and will regrow if favourable conditions arise. All with the same desire: to evade death, to keep living.”
The book Flora supersum contains 100 color photographs
The first edition was in Swedish, printed at Livonia Print in August 2016

Published by Bokförlaget Arena
Text: Ulrika Kärnborg, Bella Linde and Lena Granefelt
Design: Patric Leo