Chad Gerth
Artist Statement
Plum Blossoms 2001/2006


In early spring, plum blossoms make a brief, heralded appearance in gardens all over the world. But the millions of people who flock to plum tree gardens to revel in their beauty go there to disappear from view. This is a garden and a custom designed to make the rest of the world wilt away for a while: The sound of nearby traffic and the clicking and beeping of tourists snapping pictures fades to nothing. We are no longer in the center of a metropolis, and going back to work seems more than a day away. It is a place to have a short, chilly picnic; to have a few drinks; to take pictures of friends and family; and to stretch the technical limits of one’s photography hobby. It’s also a place to do a little bit of nothing.


The individual plum blossom reveler becomes transparent, too. In fact, we go there to separate ourselves from the real world. Even though the next photographer may be only one tree over in this dense, man-made garden, there is no reason to be self-conscious. They don’t see you and their presence is nothing more than a breeze against your ear.


Blossoms seem to symbolize not only the separation between winter and spring, but between our normal lives and nature; and we have just a few short days to wander in that narrow space. This is an imaginary break from the density we live with everyday. Somehow this shock of color to the muted winter landscape, restores our normally challenged sense of personal space, temporarily transporting us from the real world for a respite. If we can’t be alone with nature in that mythical, poetic way we’ve always heard of but have never experienced, we’ll take this brief taste. And those people over there, they’ll take it, too.


Osaka 2001/Chicago 2006


Chad Gerth is interested in the intersection of technology, commerce, and contemporary culture. His work comprises time-lapse images of LP records playing, flattened candy wrappers, and the architecture of urban driving ranges in Japan. He works in series, often treating his subjects as biological specimens or scientific studies. Since his emergence in the late 1990s, Gerth has developed his own unique style of photography including the use of photograms; passing light through broken glass and ice directly onto orthographic film to create enigmatic x-ray like images. 

Gerth has written about his work: "Photographs are two-dimensional by nature, so the extra-dimensional information on the surface must be deciphered by some other process, most often memory. Object and event become process; process becomes surface; the surface holds information which can be revealed but not decoded." Gerth was born in 1975 and received his BFA from Ryerson University and his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago.