Someone Died is the capturing and externalization of beauty, death and nature. Nature can only be kept alive if it is to be left free. It can only be the natural way of the existence of true beauty. Yet, throughout history, humans have been trying to analyse nature, to replicate its beauty, by destroying it. In this line of thought, a true analysis of science can only conclude that death is necessary to achieve immortality.
Franzen’s project is motivated by the notion that humans cannot appreciate or love something without destroying it in the process. For that reason, whilst taking inspiration from ancient techniques, Franzen chooses a selection of cuttings from plants and flowers, which were taken and cast, some in porcelain and others in gold. The porcelain was then heated to 1250 degrees, so that it could harden and become a strong material that encapsulated the plant’s life. The results are extremely delicate, white sculptures, with the exact form of the plants and flowers that were used to mould them. These sculptures still, and will have forever, the ashes of their natural predecessors inside them. All the sculptures are presented in white monochromatic form, their beauty preserved for posterity but only at the cost of what made them so exquisite in the first place: their vitality. Franzen aims to perpetuate uniqueness and to eternalize beauty, whilst demonstrating that such an act exists at the cost of suffocating and destroying, by reducing what was once a beautiful living entity to ash. It is ultimately an allegory for the mortality of humanity and our desire, as a result of the former, to achieve infinitude.
Our longing for eternal life compels us to futile actions which, in their execution, stifles our energy. Franzen has considered that porcelain is one of the longest lasting man made materials, found in artefacts from centuries ago, yet at the same time is so fragile. To drop it is to see it shatter; such considerate choice of material makes a direct connection between the mortality of the beautiful plants, the immortality of porcelain, and the beautiful fragility of both. Franzen hates mortality, but he acknowledges its importance in the universe.
Someone Died is displayed as a series of small white sculptures, which lay side by side on the vitrine, evoking an image of corpses. Such imagery portrayed by Franzen suggests an urge to collect nature and display it parallel to each other, as scientists do. Science comes also with the cost of destruction in an attempt to find answers, to cut something open and explore its secrets; aiming to obtain eternal life, to obtain immortality through mortal and destructive acts. The idea of science as the narcissistic idea is suggested, as it breaks the harmony of nature, not merely sacrificed but truly destroyed, to appreciate and expose its beauty. These themes are extremely clear in Franzen’s project. We investigate natural order to find the principles of life, but if we strive for immortality while killing everything in our path, we truly demonstrate our madness. Franzen’s pieces capture the inextricable dynamic between death, nature, a strive for immortalizing beauty, in a unique collection of porcelain and gold sculptures.