Ann Pizer’s newest body of photographic work, Folly, stems from her long-time interest in topiary, a fascination that began with a few childhood years in England and a series of magical children’s books. On a recent visit to England, she set out to explore some of Britain’s extraordinary gardens, with a special
interest in the carved yews whose whimsy she hoped to capture on film.
A folly is by its very nature lighthearted but contradictory: an act of foolishness, undertaken without good sense, an irrational plan or idea. Pizer’s lush photographic images of ornamental English gardens suggest the folly of planned beauty. Through small details and carefully chosen perspectives, the pictures emphasize the accumulated human effort necessary to maintain these fictions, these specialized environments whose illusions of untended natural grace belie their artifice and their mystery. Saturated with a rainbow of color from carefully cultivated flowers, populated by fantastically sculpted topiary, and compulsively ordered by neat, defining rows of hedges, these gardens exemplify nature as a human construction. Serving no practical or natural purpose, they are created solely as an offering for human delight and pleasure.
Pizer’s work explores a variety of perspectives on beauty and pleasure. It is appropriate that Pizer’s photographs include no representations of people. We never see the gardeners, or any other visitors to the gardens, for that matter. The agents of this garden beauty are invisible, allowing for the uninterrupted illusion of nature, and we in effect become the garden’s visitor.