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Close up shot of seed with dried red petals

Svjetlana Tepavcevic: A Portraitist of Seeds


A collection of photographs invites an awareness of the world around us and magic in the very smallest.

Within any seed are innumerable metaphors. But more magical than any language game, seeds come bearing life itself. They reveal a rare beauty which, seen up close, can be but amazing and even hypnotizing. Photographer Svjetlana Tepavcevic – who believes today there is a general blindness toward the natural world – made the Means of Reproduction series, a collection of seed portraits, to remind us of the importance and beauty of that which surrounds us and that which we can almost never notice.

Living and working in the United States, Tepavcevic was born and raised in Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia. She witnessed the war and the bloody break up of the country in the early 1990s. This gave her a special insight into life and all of its many the forms. Thus, the project not only involves collecting and photographing rare and beautiful seeds, but it also invites, at a deeper level, a form of perception, one which is fed on our ability to see the world around us more closely.

The series is a compilation of enlarged images of seeds made with a flat scanner able to achieve high resolutions and which allows the artist to print at up to 1.5 meters. The images seem to incite contemplation and silence through their striking textures, shapes, and colors, and through the small, suspended objects which appear like planets, meteorites, skeletons, and animals. The artist also makes a statement about their relative sizes and the micro-universe existing within a single seed.

According to the artist, Means of Reproduction was inspired by the work of the pioneering botanical photography of Karl Blossfeldt and his book Urformen der Kunst (Forms of Art in Nature), published in 1928. A beautiful catalog of plant photography, upon seeing it, one is invited to feel life and to apprehend the beauty of its volumes.

Tepavcevic’s images resemble the portraits of people; each seed has its own essence, a personality. And in their simplicity, she shows the complexity of life and the nature of time in a mysterious language. Through these portraits, the imperceptible, the minuscule, take on a new dimension and these become the source of inspiration and amazement. The seed portraitist invites us to be more attentive to life through the smallest of objects, one with an extraterrestrial beauty.

Images: Svjetlana Tepavcevic

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