Sonia Rentsch is an Australian still life photographer, whose artist statement introduced me to the word weltanschauung, which is German for “worldview.” Hers is finding the beauty in everything around her. Harm Less is Rentsch’s response to a prompt requesting that she take inspiration from artist “Nick Knight’s imagery of dried plant specimens” and “ponder the themes of life, death, ritual and evolution” for the Melbourne-based arts and culture magazine January Biannual. (And look more than a little like something out of eXistenZ, am I right?)
Of course, the obvious reaction to these pieces might be to view them as a statement regarding violence and how humanity might embrace a gentler, more kind existence as emulated by nature – to literally harm less. But after a discussion regarding poison sumac on the drive from Boston to Portsmouth, I’m tempted to read it another way.
Plants, after all, aren’t as innocuous as they seem. Many of the most poisonous substances on Earth come from plants, while others produce hallucinogenic compounds, unbearable rashes or are a lot like weapons themselves: think cacti, for example, or even the thorns of something as romantic as a rose. Nature isn’t all love and peace, and sometimes it pays to keep that in mind.
Art © Sonia Rentsch
Art direction by Olivia Nicholas
Photography by Albert Comper
You can buy prints of these works over here.