This interdisciplinary fine arts course results in the development of a body of work around contemporary art topics. Research, concept development and studio practice will combine to broaden your skills and ideas. Stimulating assignments together with experimentation promote analysis and understanding of contemporary art ideas, world cultures and historical periods, and other areas of visual information. Studio production and the communication of concepts visually, verbally and in written form will be combined in this thought-provoking course
Friday, December 9, 2011
This image has come out of my (possibly morbid) fascination with Victorian post mortem photography.
In my thesis paper I note an avid collector of medical and post-mortem photography who described his "fascination for 19th-century documentary photography, a large portion of which depicts dead children, infants and murder victims of all ages. He views them not as macabre images, but as indisputable reminders of how Americans grieve throughout history… in Victorian times, families commissioned photographs of their dead children lying in bed or in coffins in a home’s front parlor – often posed with a living sibling -- as keepsakes, and to send to far-flung relatives to announce a child’s death.” I was entranced by the photographs that I came across as I researched this obscure practice for my body of work entitled Memento Mori. The images were haunting, of course, but they were also strangely beautiful. I was fascinated most with the unsettling confusion that I feel when I looked at the photographs of living children posing next to their deceased siblings, who were often photographed with their eyes open. It is almost always impossible to tell which of the two are dead.
The thing that disturbed me the most was not the images themselves. I have seen so much of it that I have developed quite a strong stomach when it comes to the physical tangibility of death. No, what frightened me was the amount of time I would spend sifting through the images and reading the stories of the people depicted. I hesitate to call it obsession for fear of being seen as a highly disturbed individual. But I cannot deny the fact that death has always been so significant throughout my life. The desire to understand it, to find the intellectual aperture into the unknown, has indeed obsessed me.
This was my third attempt at creating a collage of these images and I found it difficult to create an image that I was satisfied with, aesthetically speaking. I do, however, intend to explore this further in the future.