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Photographer's Showcase: Svjetlana Tepavcevic's Means of Reproduction — New Work

photo-eye Gallery Photographer's Showcase: Svjetlana Tepavcevic's Means of Reproduction — New Work photo-eye Gallery is pleased to release a new portfolio of images from Svjetlana Tepavcevic's Means of Reproduction series on the Photographer's Showcase. Tepavcevic talks about the new images with photo-eye Gallery's Erin Azouz.
photo-eye Gallery is pleased to announce the release of a new portfolio of work by Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction  New Work. The new images are a continuation of the series by Tepavcevic that we published last year (read the first interview we did with her on photo-eye Blog). Means of Reproduction is a vivid, colorful exploration of the world of seeds and seedpods, which hold the code for life and allude to the passage of time, death and rebirth. I asked Svjetlana to discuss some of the new photographs in this series and how the project has evolved. —Erin Azouz

Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction no. 524
Erin Azouz:     You've stated that coming across the seeds and seed pods naturally, such as on hikes in the wilderness, is important to you. Can you talk about how that informs your work?

Svjetlana Tepavcevic:     It is important to me to be aware of the world around me — not just on hikes in the wilderness, but every day, wherever I happen to be at the moment. Our environment is fascinating and enormously complex, but we mostly go through life not paying attention to its complexities. And that’s the whole point of the project — to show the essential elements of life in a new and unfamiliar way, to make people more aware of the world around them.

EA:     Can you tell us about the experience of encountering some of the seed pods in this new portfolio? How and where did you find them?

ST:     About half of the images in this new portfolio are of the seeds and seed pods I found, mostly going about my daily life, in totally unadventurous scenarios, such as picking up clothes at dry cleaners, where I found the silver maple samaras. The Japanese maple is from my neighborhood.

Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction no. 905
(CORNUS FLORIDA, American dogwood)
The first image in the Showcase portfolio (pictured right) is from the small dogwood tree in front of my house. I couldn’t reach the seeds I wanted, so I had to engage my husband to climb the ladder and get them for me. So many times the most interesting and amazing seed pods are out of reach, dangling high up on tree branches, and, of course, I can’t bring the ladder to them.

Japanese dogwood is another amazing little tree near my house, right by my mailbox. I tried getting its little fruits before but wasn’t successful — they were just high enough to be out of reach. And there are always a bunch of bees buzzing around. It turns out its fruits are delicious and edible, and highly popular among birds, squirrels and bees. Last year, I brought my step ladder and didn’t leave until I had something. And it’s one of the most fascinating seed pods, whose details I only saw after I made a high resolution scan. And notice the similarities and differences between American and Japanese dogwood. Of course, online, we are missing the scale of the print and its physicality. The small print is 17 by 17 inches, on smooth cotton matte paper.

Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction no. 8142 
(ACACIA NILOTICA, Scented thorn)
On the more exotic side, poinciana bean pod is from the Harbour Island, the Bahamas, my husband’s childhood home.

The other half of the images in this new portfolio was contributed by two of my close friends, who are based in California, and whom I met in our very first photography class at UCLA Extension. I have to say their contribution is invaluable to me, and I very much welcome their help. My friend, Mireya, who is an avid gardener, reaches across people’s fences to steal iris pods for me, and spots amazing trees such as ACACIA NILOTICA, scented thorn tree, an African tree growing at the Palm Springs Zoo.

Svjetlana Tepavcevic
Left: Means of Reproduction no. 12272 (IRIS ENSATA, Japanese iris)
Right: Means of Reproduction no. 12273 (IRIS ENSATA, Japanese iris)

EA:     You've included several diptychs in this new portfolio compared to the last one. Has your interest grown in the transformative qualities of the seeds and seedpods over time?

Svjetlana Tepavcevic
Means of Reproduction no. 116
ST:     This second portfolio is a bit different from the first one in several ways. Among other things, more images communicate with each other in interesting ways even when they are not diptychs. For example, the iris images above, the seeds alone are more interesting to me after seeing the pod itself. To the eye, the cocoons generally tend to be more fascinating than the seeds they are shielding and nurturing. The seeds may appear simpler, but it is the seeds that contain the code for new life, carrying it across time. They are inseparable and intrinsic to each other.

A seed pod I like very much is the very small, golden papery pod from California desert, a species of locoweed (astragalus). I like it for its simplicity and near perfection. And because it reminds me of the landscape I love. Some seeds from this family of plants are poisonous.

The diptych shows a pod from the same plant, only it has decayed much more. We are looking at two sides of the same pod, and yet they are two entirely different landscapes. Decay is interesting to me because it symbolizes impermanence, pointing to the fact that life and death are a continuum.

Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction no. 1151 & no. 1152, diptych (ASTRAGALUS POMONENSIS, Pomona milkvetch)

The last diptych in the portfolio shows two acorns with new sprouts. I think these are California oak acorns. This is the only instance in the project where we see new life emerging from the seeds. I don’t know why one seed has red and the other green flesh. Red and green are opposites, they complement each other. Again, that duality we so often encounter in life. When I originally sequenced this portfolio, I began with the decaying golden pod and ended with the California oak diptych. I chose to end the portfolio with the emergence of new life.

Svjetlana Tepavcevic, Means of Reproduction no. 14132 & no. 11431, diptych (QUERCUS LOBATA, valley oak)

View Svjetlana Tepavcevic's new portfolio, Means of Reproduction – New Work

For more information about Svjetlana Tepavcevic's work, or to purchase a print, please contact us at or call 505-988-5152 ext. 202.

Read more about Svjetlana Tepavcevic on photo-eye Blog