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Soldiers of the Sun, 2017-2018,  Cyanotype photogram on watercolor paper

Soldiers of the Sun is a series of life size cyanotypes depicting the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), a phototoxic plant native to the Caucasus region and Central Asia, surrounded by an assortment of its seeds, wires, cables and other contemporary gadgets used for image making, and accompanied by silhouettes of human figures. When the poisonous sap of the plant is activated by UV light and comes in contact with human skin it can cause phytophotodermatitis and 3rd degree burns. Cyanotype is an early indexical photographic process in which an emulsion applied to paper is activated by UV light as well to represent the absence of an object or figure. The process implicit in creating cyanotypes and the poison born of Heracleum Mantegazzianum’s foliage are both triggered by the sun - one resulting in a painful and potentially deadly wound, and the other an ethereal image abstracted from the world.

The Giant Hogweed made its way into Europe and the US as a decorative plant, while in Soviet Union it was cultivated as a silage plant for farm animals. After the fall of Soviet Union the plants quickly took over the abandoned fields of the kolkhozes and has became a national pandemic in Russia. Due to its invasive nature the Giant Hogweed has been placed on the noxious weeds list by the USDA as each plant emits tens of thousands of seeds into the local soil, rendering the earth below inert to any future farming and human habitation.

Soldiers of the Sun questions the price of human progress at the expense of nature in which the haunted specter of the Giant Hogweed functions as a metaphor for the wounded state of the earth retaliating for centuries of human ecological distress, which is particularly charged in context of the era of the Anthropocene. Echoing Anna Atkins' early albums of algae, this is a life-size herbarium of the finite human era and it's plastic technological detritus and negligence.