Tension between morbid and beauty.
Why I can get caught with the images of Damien Hirst and Andres Serrano and yet be unable to live with them? Or maybe yes?
The two artists who i want to talk about are particularly Damien Hirst and Andres Serrano, two artists dedicated to creating art in a different way to usual, in a macabre, full of curiosity and morbid, blood, violence, sex, death and religion.
A form of expression that has been criticized in many ways creating polemics, some people catalog Hirst and Serrano like offensive artists, blasphemous and provocative, others would like to change in membership of the work, be part of it.
“Damien Hirst, the britpack artist who sparked controversy in the 1990s by displaying macabre high-tech exhibits of dead sharks, sliced cows, or lambs in vitrines of formaldehyde, has parlayed his notoriety into success with his popular Pharmacy restaurant in london. It is hard to imagine how hirst's tableaux of rotting meat (complete with maggots) helped his image in the food business-but fame works in mysterious ways”. The beauty and the morbid...
“Some of the most infamous art of recent decades became controversial because of its startling presentation of human bodies and body fluids. At the 1999 sensation exhibit at the brooklyn museum of art, the most controversial artwork (virgin mary' by chris ofili) even used elephant dung. Controversy erupted about funding of the US national endowment for the arts (NEA) in the late 1980s after bodies were penetrated and exposed, as blood, urine, and semen became newly prominent in art. Images like Andres Serrano's piss christ (1987) and Robert Mapplethorpe's Jim and Tom, Sausalito (1977) (wich showed one man urinating into another man's mouth) became key targets for critics of contemporary art”.
“Hirst's celebrated icon of a preserved tiger shark makes its customary appearance in the show. Death explained 2007 has the sea marauder sectioned in two down its length; the halves are mounted in adjacent cabinets. Luminous speckles of glass pepper its mane and snout. Ripples of the muscular grey hide draw interest to a singular cold dead eye, perched like a large black button in its socket. The ruthless fangs are surprisingly delicate; a double row of fragile pearl triangles perched in the yawning jaw. Exposed flattened innards press against the side of the container.
However the work induces only the mildest response in the spectator; the story of the piece is now very familiar and it has long been absorbed into the iconography of contemporary art”
With the emergence in the mid-19th century of the photography, spread the practice of portraying the dead. Today for the viewer these images experience a great unease, an almost pathological aversion, like the portraits by Andres Serrano.
Who was behind this habit and that is our current refusal of the majority of people?
In some museums like the MOMA or the New York contemporary art in San Francisco, (photography of Damien Hirst and Andres Serrano among others) and funds from various national libraries of Europe and Latin America there are many photographic collections that reflect the "memento mori” (Dead moment) They are portraits, especially children, show that the deceased dressed in their best finery, with arms folded or on a very attitude of everyday life (even with eyes open) between pretending that their relatives still living.
Images that are in the first instance aroused great concern for themselves, a shiver, as if we were facing a ghostly specter. However, the sensations transmitted these images of the era in which they were collected were very different. The “memento mori” was considered a summary where nostalgic combat entering the living space, the physical appearance of the deceased, funeral iconography and the hope of the existence of a beyond. Death is seen as a transition as something intrinsic to the very existence, and more in those years,
Where the infant mortality didn’t have distinction between religion and social position. Trance of death, depending on circumstances, could mean even a blessing. In most cases the family did not have anything that might recall the late passage of this life, no picture apart from that obtained after death.
“Cabeza de vaca” (picture of Andres Serrano) is a perfect example of a subject, which in and of itself is neither provocative nor radical, but which inspires complicated connotations and readings. This large color photograph depicts a simple still life of a severed cow's head. But,
beyond the literal level, the image has rich emotional and social associations, which are largely invisible. Certainly the most obvious referent is death: a mortal head severed from its torso, a brain split from its body. But the suspicious, even aristocratic, bovine eye, which accuses from the after life, also alludes to the possibility of the soul. And, here, sickening blood, the very sign of sacrifice, is not disguised or hidden.
The contemplation of death inscribed in the annals of history from the Paleolithic Era. However, the Egyptian culture is one that displays all their magical knowledge, scientific, and especially ARTISTIC to represent the deceased. That’s why the images of the Pharaohs have been perpetuated until today thanks to mummification and the relief of the sarcophagus, which was recorded appearance in life.
During the Middle Ages was the appellant's abstract representation of death, symbolized by skeletons that waved with all naturalness in picturesque surroundings. For its part, the Maya tried to immortalize the dead Jade carving masks reproducing the face. The elements of form are all of about the same shape and size, all of the same degree of projection, and similar in amount of details. “It is a soft-looking relief of schematic units, each unit reflecting the coarse tools and the difficulty of working the hard jade”.
During the Renaissance and Baroque mortuary representations were extraordinarily seductive (as Damien Hirst's sculpture and photography of Joel Peter Witkin), which led to the offered painting portraits of famous people on their deathbed. Renaissance portrait delves through the post mortem in the abandonment of representation as a human ideal, a concept inherited from the Greek world, to get lost in the translation of the individual with all their rights.
The paradigm of this new vision, and into the baroque, came from the hand of Rembrandt, whose portraits and self-reflecting, so stark, the indelible traces of the passage of time and disease in the face. But it was the arrival of the daguerreotype, and as a corollary, the photography which means the true portrait of the universal post mortem in all spheres of society.
Post mortem portraiture, reserved till now for the upper class of society, experience with this revolutionary invention, a quantitative and qualitative leap. Quantitative because its use spread with unusual speed throughout Europe, and from there overseas. Qualitative because the new technique for correcting the lack of perfection in painting and loyalty over loyalty of the plaster mask. The miracle of photography, coupled with the possibility of manipulation that offered the light and the makeup, allowing, "rescue" with loyalty to the deceased and hide while as far as possible the stigmas of death. (Contrary to the photograph by Andres Serrano, his photography is a kind of revolution of the same)
In the mid-20th century the practice of post-mortem photography of the family disappeared and became taboo. But abandoned the practice altogether. In this regression had a lot to see the increase in life expectancy and medical advances, but much more of mindset change that occurred with regard to the death, which led to his absolute denial in the present. Andres Serrano photograph alludes indirectly to the post mortem but this time without worrying about the aesthetics and state of the body, the meaning of death becomes taboo word for a moment, and it represented the most aggressive, violent and real as possible, suicides, burnt bodies, AIDS.
By the relevancy of the photographs as indisputable tool capable of transmitting at a glance with emotions and feelings that would require considerably more than a thousand words recalling the proverb. Drawers direction of the press are Awash in hundreds of photographs taken by excellent professionals in the most situations and insist that, however, never saw the light and are, moreover, condemned to continue for the rest of the times. Those images that are the responsibility of those who have the ability to decide on its publication, it is interpreted that they are always the other side of the hard edge that separates the information of the rugged, the news of the morbid…
Passion for the work, love all the images, respect for those who create the desire to know and show, a strong and emotional instincts about what should and should not be published, the courage to go against the conventional situation where the you deserve, the ability to instill passion, curiosity, morbid, beauty,......perfection.
The morbid is a very personal subject and takes many forms, for example a young woman with a mini Scottish kilt, a fat girl wearing black leather, a man handcuffed receiving the piss in the mouth of another, unknown to spy to observe a traffic accident where the driver of the bike has been torn by a traffic signal, use your partner as table tasting sushi, strangling and copulating at the same time, dress of the opposite sex, or simply watch the beauty of the photographs of Joel Peter Witkin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano or Damien Hirst's sculptures.
The beauty of the society...the morbid ...the disease of society.
I remember certain key moments in my experience with industrially manufactured objects of this world, objects of worship with which I was lucky enough to interact: the BMW of my father, the revolver desert eagle caliber-40, the Rolex, the aluminum Mac book pro, The pen pelikan x28, Japanese stainless steel knives 175mm cutting blade, the American Levi's, and many times more “beautiful” objects, useful, perfect and we have been happier carrying unknowingly.
In the ancient Greece, the man was who occupied the center of the universe. Today the market competition has led to the craftsmen of yesteryear monstrously to increase their productive capacity to generate unhealthy amounts of objects are not necessarily useful (do not forget the juicer by Alessi) while entering into a Darwinian competition for perfect beauty and so achieve the perfect product. man has become the background.
Thus, contrary to my principles, I must admit. To confirm this, just ignore for a moment the environmentalists and advocates for animals and compare a purebred Pekinese dog with the play station 3.
We have entered the era of luxury and Thanatos where curiosity arises of how well done, of the artificial, and the luxury of just how well designed. Called Eros and Thanatos is behind us, at least in the industrialized world.
“Leave your bags on the side gents and I’ll let you in” (security for the diamond skull of Damien Hirst)
But for me and other people Eros and Thanatos is still present in the artwork.
Beauty and curiosity (morbid) are in the same train.