As in Time After Time, the photographs in Blow Up depict the detonation of floral arrangements. Gersht’s camera has managed not only to document but also to memorialize the event. The works are an overt reminder of the impermanence of innocence and beauty, since even the most sublime of scenarios can be surreptitiously corrupted by seemingly baseless acts of destruction and ruin. In this instance, the images reference the natures mortes (still lifes) of the nineteenth-century painter Henri Fantin-Latour. The flowers are red, white, and blue, a nod to the painter’s French origins.
Comprising sixteen different images, ranging from the first moments of the initial blast all the way to the dust settling in the aftermath of the explosion, Blow Up is a partially veiled view of beauty being violated. The scale of these works is relatively large (many prints are nearly eight feet high), affording close-up examination of the delicate folds of the flower petals, the tensile strength of the stems as they bend and crack, and the virginal freshness of the blossoms. Such scale lends itself to comparisons with painting, but it also presents a moment in flux: the subject is simultaneously being ripped apart and struggling to remain pulled together.