Soldiers of the Sun is a series of cyanotypes, a camera-less image-making process created by exposing photo-sensitive paper directly to UV light. Historically this process is linked to the British botanist, the first female photographer Anna Atkins and her album of British Algae created at the height of "natural history mania" in 1843.
In response I created my own life-size album of the age of the Anthropocene. The analog “sun prints” present an indexical image in the silhouette of abstracted figures, plants, seeds, and latest image-making technological gadgets such as smartphones and drones, as well as the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Sosnowskyi) - a spectacularly anthropomorphic plant at the center of each composition.
This viral, invasive, photo-toxic species rapidly infesting Post-Soviet territories today was initially imported into the Soviet Union from the Caucasus as livestock feed in an innovative effort to restore agriculture after World War II. Each plant distributes 70,000 seeds into the local soil, often rendering the local site useless to any potential for future farming, which presents a potent metaphor for the spirit of the earth seeking revenge for the devastation wrought through human ecological distress. Both the process implicit in creating cyanotypes and the poison born of the Giant Hogweed’s foliage are triggered by the sun - one resulting in a painful and potentially deadly wound, and the other an ethereal image of the human body once-removed from the world.
Installation view: Soldiers of the Sun, or the Right to the Future Tense at Museum of Hygiene, Saint Petersburg, Russia during the Contemporary Art in Traditional Museum Festival Organized by ProArte Foundation, 2019
Soldiers of the Sun by Alexandra Lerman
2018-2019, 294cm x 150cm, cyanotype on watercolor paper