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Hyun A Cho

I am interested in the 17th legendary Dutch tulip “Semper Augustus” and the contemporary Dutch tulip industry. When hybrid tulip bulbs, made through cross-pollination, ‘broke’ – the effect of a virus – they exhibited unexpected patterns and colours, giving tulips new aesthetic value in the Dutch Golden Age. What insights into our culture, environment and obsession with beauty can this offer? In this context, I understand that a sense of beauty – otherness and eeriness – reflects the other side of a mirror.

Is the state of horror or feeling of foreignness driven by the notion of beauty, in fact, an impulse to create “a state of moral uncertainty under a force that allows a glimpse into another, more inclusive reality?” This grotesque and melancholic phenomenon reminds me of Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation (‘cross-cultural poetics’ or ‘double crossings’) and its association with the idea of colonies of the aesthetic.

Was it an accident that the author of “The Black Tulip” Alexandre Dumas himself was half-black and half-white? Was the ‘Black Tulip’, in fact, the ghost of his grandmother, a black slave in Haiti?