Stilleben, 2005 – Project 0047, Berlin

– an exhibition consisting of flowers. 23 artists have been invited to contribute with a story of a flower bouquet once received or given away, and also the description of the composition of flowers. This is the basis upon which Rakett has reconstructed the flower bouquets, presenting them with their respective accompanying stories. The contributions range from highly personal experiences of loss of a close person to conceptual or more formal approaches to the given task.


A Bouquet of Flowers

by Vilde von Krogh


My very first recollection of a bouquet in my life is of one that I gave away.

I remember it quite clearly, it being handed over on the very day that today remains my first childhood memory, no doubt ignited by the tragic circumstances that led up to this day, circumstances that tend to blur most of my young life before that moment.

I was seven years old, seated on the frontbench in an indefinitely large church together with my sisters often and eleven, and my little brother of five.

It was the funeral of our mother.

I remember that we – as opposed to all the people dressed in black – were clad in bright colours. I wore a flowered summer dress, and all four of us each had a large bouquet of self-picking in our laps.

They consisted of typical Norwegian globe flowers that indicated no hierarchic rank in its mix of “weed” and flowers or straws.

I remember having attempted to gather as many colours and shapes as possible, and that pea flower, ratsbane, foxglove, buttercup and a large variety of other wild species from the Nordic fauna were squeezed together in my sweaty palms.

I remember being particularly careful with keeping the straws taller than the flowers in my bouquet, so that it was to resemble an entire meadow where weed and straw always sway the highest.

Then I remember my father standing on the rostrum behind the coffin.

The coffin was white and situated on a blue velvet carpet, encircled by some toy pets that my sisters had sewn at school. Actually, I fail to remember whether there were any other flowers there, but surely there must have been. My father began speaking, keeping his eyes straight at me. He said my name, and then told everyone how I had asked him not to cry, because there were probably someone, somewhere else that needed our mother more than we did – Perhaps some small prince or princess in a distant kingdom where she actually was a queen – and that we ought not to make it harder for her to go there by being so sad.

I remember how I felt all eyes set on me, whereas I held my fathers gaze firm, and him trying to force the tears away while smiling at me. I recognized a sensation of gratitude, while at the same time I felt deeply betrayed. How did he dare to tell everybody of my wish and include all into our confidence? And was I to blame that he was standing there, obviously in such pain, yet not crying?

Afterwards, when they were playing Adagio by Albinoni, I myself clung to my bouquet in order not to cry. I could not cry, not now! And I was furious with all the people in church that, in spite of the confidence they had just been given, and the apparent struggles my father went through up on the rostrum, nevertheless allowed for sobs and tears to flow freely. And the endlessly sad melody never ended, and the weeping of the people just kept on increasing. I remember the intense focusing on my flowered dress and the bouquet in my hands that absorbed the surrounding sounds and the lumps in my throat. After an eternity the music stopped and I and my siblings went up to the coffin to place our bouquets. With the stopping of the music, the crying became even more obvious, and I became entirely deaf. I clung so hard to the stems with both of my hands that I actually got stuck in them, and I remember being sorry for not being able to hold my little brother by the hand.

I fumbled so much with trying to disentangle from the bouquet that my siblings were already seated by the time I got loose. And then I realized – alone up by the coffin in front of all the people – that my mother was no queen, only dead, and that she was lying there to be buried in the ground and never, never to return. And I remember knowing that this was to be my last gift, and that the thought of it not going to last forever became an inconceivable thought. So I stuffed the entire Norwegian summer meadow into the handle of the coffin, and when we later lowered it into the ground, I was filled with an inexplicable relief and pride from my bouquet being there to accompany it into the depths. It took, though, several years for me to be able to cry again.

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