Williamsburg’s Honey Gifts will be displaying more than just the usual lingerie and sex toys this Friday night. Brooklyn artist Tal Shpantzer has adorned the shop’s windows with images of women holding flowers and petals in their mouths. The photographs from Shpantzer’s Petal Series are inspired by Dadaism and, specifically, Hannah Höch’s collages. They’re striking, intense, and beautiful–some of the women look a little sad, others almost feral.
Born in Israel but based in Brooklyn since 2000, Shpantzer has studied, worked, and exhibited all over Europe and the United States. Her work has received numerous accolades, including a grant from the Soros Center for Contemporary Art for her earlier Limbus Diary. No matter her subject, she uses photography to capture and explore undefined moments.
Shpantzer believes the Petal Series can be interpreted in various ways. “Each woman brings such a unique presence and element to it, and brings her history and her memory. And of course it depends on what you bring to it when you view it.”
The Greenpoint artist often asks people she sees on the streets or cafes of her neighborhood to sit for a portrait, but the Petal Series also includes women who inspire her. “I usually have to admire or adore something in them that I feel is strong, and intelligent, and unique,” she said of her subjects. She was especially delighted to feature a woman who is a master of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. She shoots her portraits intuitively, leaving a lot to “what happens in real life and real time.” Shpantzer is working on turning the Petal Series into her first book, available for pre-order here.
Honey Gifts is seeking to build a reputation as “a vessel for community, and also female empowerment,” according to Crystal Suh, an independent consultant working with the store. It wants to be “an art space that happens to sell lingerie and sex toys,” she said. Suh reached out to Shpantzer because she likes the way the photographer depicts women “in their strong, natural, productive selves.”
Friday’s pop-up event will feature Prosecco for guests, with Shpantzer’s prints for sale in various sizes, some inside shadowboxes handmade from recycled wood. Additionally, a new set of notecards from the series will be for sale in-store and on Shpantzer’s website.