Photographer Maria Allen explained how her two series of images, though visually very different, explored resistance to conformity.
“Botanists describe the Rhizome as a horizontal underground stem, a storage organ in plants, which situates itself in a horizontal fashion underground. The rhizome is the figure that French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze uses to depict anti-hierarchical processes in our world's systems and networks. For Deleuze, the rhizome is a model for how both nature and human societies operate.In my large-scale photographic prints … showing Rhizome, I have sited plants, which specifically show rhizomic structure in a constructed and artificial environment, using controlled lighting. The rhizome is exposed and it is showing no restrictions from the confines of its container once it has been removed. It rhizome survives in itself and is not threatened by its confinement within a controlled space. I did research at the Royal Horticultural Society to find suitable plants to capture. I was inspired by historical botanical illustrations of plants from the V & A, where I noticed that they expose the root system in the majority of the drawings.
I had to take a year out of my part-time MA as I had a total hip replacement due to bone disintegration following an earlier car crash. When I was back on my feet again I got very excited by walking in the woods near Meanwood Park. I spotted lots of informal paths made in the woods and wondered if there was a name for them. I discovered that urban archaeologists termed them desire lines.
So my Desire Lines visual work the idea stemmed from my investigation of open spaces and looking at the way humans subconsciously show resistance to conformity through desire lines. I took 300 images over a few months and reduced the images to halftone so that it resembled newspaper images to reflect media. I had taken Ordnance Survey maps on my walks and discovered that these had been invented during the Napoleonic War as part of the strategic plan. I used graph paper to denote the idea of physically plotting and included the OS references so that if you looked up the coordinates on each print you could find your way there. The order and structure of the graph paper is also synonymous and symbolic of modes and confines of social and political behaviours, which are imposed on us. The red line in the imagery is symbolic of human for autonomy and denotes connotations of social struggles symbolic of revolutions. It is also a graffiti-like statement on the image, which I hope communicates a social and political message highlighting the importance of individualism.”