The flower has a long and intertwined history with political violence, racial conflict, and the poetics of war. It has a binary conceptual structure that makes it a mutable image, capable of signifying both war and peace, and of embracing the transcendent as well as the abject. However, the public role of flowers in war is to help nations commemorate and remember the heroic sacrifices of the dead. Flowers are appropriate for official rituals of remembrance because their beauty, when fresh, deflects the horrific reality of that sacrifice. But the flower is also irresistible to the artist who engages with war because it has the shape of a human body and half its body grows beneath the ground in the symbolic realm of the unconscious. The image of the wild poppy of Flanders is the most conspicuous in the Western language of flowers and war. It officially commemorates the ‘glorious dead’, but its sanguine fleshy body also evokes the corpse.
|Keywords:||Flowers, War, Peace|
Senior Lecturer in Art Theory, Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney, sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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