group show 58
Photography and its history are layered with death. Not only in photographers capturing life as it passes, but conceptually and in the metaphors entangled in the practice – it arrests time and life within a frame.
For critics and philosophers including the late Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, photography itself was a "kind of death," or as Sontag put it in On Photography, a "memento mori that enables participation in another's mortality, vulnerability, mutability." Sure, Sontag and Barthes' waxed wisdom came decades ago, but it transcends time and shifting attitudes towards the medium.
The photographers in this exhibition capture death at different angles, from documentary views to more abstract, metaphorical views and visualizations of nostalgia as a symbol of an expired past. Mat Brutger, for example, photographed his grandfather's final days with tender, emotive portraits that transcend sensationalized hospital photography. M. Apparition's more abstract approach uses experimental processes to create open-ended, ambiguous shapes and surfaces that represent death's uncertain feeling. Falling somewhere between the two, Jessica Harvey uses the cremated remains of her Aunt and her pets to create photograms that both document their death and serve as a physical reminder of their spirit or essence.
This vast range of process and interpretations provide no new insight – they are an open question mark that continues to leave us hanging.