A True date with a Palm Tree


  • Victoria Ahrens University of the Arts London, United Kingdom




This is a visual essay that meanders. It is based around my encounter with palm trees and my grandfather’s silver print photographs, collated in an album that dates back to the 1930s. Henry Richard Ahrens was a keen photographer, though I had never seen any of his images until 2010 when I was given one of his albums by a relative who knew I was a photographer and writer. He died before I could get to know him. His photographs have a particular sensibility to them, with a multitude of self-portraits, and often, a hand written phrase to go with them. I am told he developed his films himself. He is often pictured next to palm trees in his photographs. These palms he photographed are particularly fascinating to me. They represent one of the few genus that extend back to the late Cretaceous period, a dinosaur of a plant species. With their many variations, they take on a poetic and utopian presence, their seeds having been disseminated through colonial exchanges, botanical curiosity and commercial interests. Found in so many surprising corners of the world, the palm expresses our need to explore, while becoming a symbol of resistance to discourses of nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment. This essay reflects a personal ethnography through the interconnected and material presence of the palm in London, Buenos Aires and in the photograph itself.


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Como Citar

Ahrens, V. (2019). A True date with a Palm Tree. Vista, (5), 217–228. https://doi.org/10.21814/vista.3048