Last Secret of My Mother

Digital Print

True Emotions

The Original True Emotion / Ulrika and Goethe

Digital Print

Flowers have been with us as tokens of emotions since the dawn of time. In religions around the world they are used to celebrate fallen heroes, to profess love and to mark anniversaries and personal accomplishments. Photographer Petr Jedinak realized this early in his career as a celebrity photographer for Reflex, a landmark Czech magazine. His path then brought him into the private quarters of Pragues artists, intellectuals and celebrities who harboured fond memories in dried flowers:

I realized there is something about bouquets that makes them tokens of strong emotions when I was shooting in the apartment of Prague prima ballerina Adele Pollert. She had her whole bedroom decorated with dried bouquets, once luscious, that she had received for her shows. It was spectacular and unsettling at the same time.”

An even more profound discovery that burnt into his memory was a Victorian glass-encased flower plate made by an artist whose name was long forgotten from the bouquet that German writer J.W. Goethe had sent to his scandalously young love interest Ulrike in Carlsbad. Poetically, Jedinak discovered this dusted treasure in possession of Czech poet Jiri Rulf (1947 – 2007).

That´s where the idea came from.” I made a photograph of that artifact and named it “The Original True Emotion”. To me it represents affection between an old writer and his young admirer, an affair that was back then shunned and scandalized by society, but it was innocent and pure. Flowers imply innocence.”

For the people in Victorian times the luxury of speaking one´s heart clashed with societal conventions. This tension gave birth to the “Flower Language”, an elaborate secret code for lovers who would communicate their feelings to one another using bouquets of flowers. Chrysanthemum professed friendship while red camellia carried the confession “You are the flame of my heart.” 

I choose bouquets that carry a story whether it is wedding bouquets or wreaths for the dead. I don´t care about ikebana or the art of flower décor. My photoshoot is a spiritualist seance. I am a ghost hunter, I am after the immaterial.”

Communication between this world and the other side is something that is peculiar to Jedinak´s mysticism. This tiny collection is rare among his works because it depicts still life. In True Emotions he departs from his usual canon that centers around the human figure, as in portrait or the nude. Nevertheless, the series encompassed all that is typical of Jedinak: there is love and erotica in a corporeal dimension that is captured in its most decadent aspect, prone to decay and expiry yet it’s being animated by otherworldly beaming light that assures death is not the final destination. 

In a sinister twist of fate, many of Jedinak´s bouquets in True Emotions are neither “alive” nor “dead” in the sense they have never been a living plant. They are fake flowers popular in the cemeteries of Eastern Europe for their longevity and awesome colors. Tension between mystery and truth abounds. Perhaps it is because Jedinak learnt the ropes of his photography craft in the least expected place – twenty years ago he took his camera out and practiced on gravestones of abandoned Jewish cemeteries. 

Unlike people, they were mysterious. And what was important, they didn´t move. They allowed me to patiently search for the perfect angle. I approached them as if I were portraying actual people, in those tombstones histories of whole families were written. I didn´t feel alone. This exercise groomed me for a career in portrait photography, even though I didn’t know it back then.”

Jedinak also shot a number of funerary designs, sculptures and reliefs. Death, he admits, has been the only fascination of his that could compete with women. The common element among these two is mystery. 

There are only two great mysteries left in the Universe, one of them is the Woman and other is Death. As I begun to age, I buried all of my ancestors and that made my feelings for cemeteries personal. I saw how the bouquets on graves rewrote the life stories of those beneath. A few days after I buried my mother, a bouquet from an anonymous man appeared on her grave. I never found out who it was from, but I am pretty sure he wasn´t the man she married. It was the last secret of my mother. It was also the second time in my life I experienced that eerie connection between love, death, sex, the forbidden and flowers. I knew I had to complete the series.”

Innocence Calling you

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Talk to Me

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Gypsy Rose

ambrotype, 50x50cm

So Pure / Homage To Andy Warhol

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Inspired by

Daisy / Andy Warhol, 1982

Faces / Homage to Giuseppe Arcimboldo

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Inspired by the Caesar´s Portrait
Stand Up and Claim Your Space

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Here Be Little Dragons

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Dead Still Living

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Fondest memory of the Day She Became a Woman

ambrotype, 50x50cm

Bringer of a Love Long Lost

ambrotype, 50x50cm