Altered Art book page 3 and 4 ‘A Question of Life and Death’

p4  altered art book

p4 altered art book

The conversation on Page 4 was one that I found myself joining in with.  The text says;

 

Your mother is dead’ she told him, and he cried because the world had such a dull empty sound.  She tried to explain.  ‘When someone dies’ she said, ‘they go away’

‘When do they come back?

‘They don’t, she said.  They don’t come back.’

Edit: the word because needs printing out again (and spelling correctly)

 I wanted to question that;

Are you sure about that?

(A bit louder) ‘I said,

 

 

page2 detail

page2 detail

 

 

 Are you sure about that?’ 

Obviously, not knowing the answer, I added

‘Is there anyone there?????’

The image on the page is a ‘Spirit’ photo with a ‘Spirit’ standing at the back.  The woman who looks like she has a tablecloth in her mouth is actually emitting ectoplasm: a fascinating substance that seems to have died out now in Spiritual circles.  This ectoplasm eventually gave form to a spirit or so they say, though I’ve yet to hear a spirit confirm this.  The spirit world seems to have moved on now: it’s all mod cons now: orbs are the new phenomena.  Transformation of communication again.

Life and Death are fascinating questions (or are they both statements: facts?).  What IS life? And what exactly IS death?  We know that there IS Life (well, as we know it), but what is death?  Is there life after death?  Perhaps there’s no death, only a kind of life that goes on and on.  I have always been extremely interested in the preservation of dead bodies.   That’s probably due to a subconscious yearning for Everlasting life .  In that sense, I am no different from an ancient Egyptian.

Seti 1
Seti 1

Mummies fascinate me: whether they are embalmed, desiccated (dried out) usually in a hot climate like the dessert

 

 

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

 or preserved in watery bogs.

Tollund Man Bog body

Tollund Man Bog body

It is the preservation of the body (and the soul) that interests me.  It was for one of those reasons I went to see Professor Gunther von Hagens ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibition when it came to Brick Lane London in 2002.  

 

Von Hagens, known as the ‘Plastinater’ (I shook hands with that charming man by the way; his hands were cool…) had called into the exhibition to give an interview to a TV station.  There was also red paint (that at first looked like blood) on some of the backstairs: some kind of a demonstration protest had taken place. 

 

 

 

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition The Plastination process involves removing fats and bodily fluids from the body: this impedes decomposition. The fluids are replaced with certain resins, silicon rubber, epoxy and elastomers. The material is then hardened and cured with light gas and heat, resulting in permanence.Human body from the Bodyworlds exhibition

My husband wasn’t keen on going to this exhibition, but even he thought it was fantastic.  We didn’t find it morbid or grisly though, though it’s hard to get away from the fact that these are dead people.  Some of them are celebrating things they did in real life.  The professor is no artist though and some of the tableaux could be said to be in bad taste.   I think his attempt to ‘lighten’ what is a controversial subject matter, may have backfired somewhat. But I do think that his intentions were honourable and he really wanted to show how these  body parts worked and what went wrong when they didn’t.   It’s not often that we see exactly what a deceased lung looks like…or a brain haemorrhage, yet these and other illnesses kill us.  When I looked at these illnesses, I felt that I was looking  death in the face (the causes of death) and that the ‘mystery’ had gone: the machine had broken: here’s what has broken it.

 

I gazed in wonder at these dead people who looked back at me.  They were just like me: the same species.  Only they were dead and I was Alive, looking at them: looking at these fantastic, miraculous machines – because machines we are: I couldn’t help but be acutely aware of the ONE difference between me and them: the spark of Life  which I hold within myself.  For that reason I found the exhibition a super Life affirming experience.

 

 

 

 Life affirming! Not death affirming, that’s inevitable.

This leads onto the other question though: is there life after death?  Well if there is, we sure don’t need the body to live it.  In that way, that’s where the Ancients went wrong, they thought the soul was nothing without the body it inhabited.

http://www.bodyworlds.com/en.h

At University, in the Foundation years I came across an artist that dealt with the spirit world.  This man claimed that he communicated with the dead and transmuted their communication through his art.  Austin O Spare dealt with the subconscious. O Spare who was very interested in the Occult and Ancient Magic claimed that some of his brushstrokes were directed by spirits: those who inhabited the Spiritual realm and that his art was automatical, springing from the subconscious.    I wrote an essay about this that I will put on this blog called ‘Art and Subconscious’.  O Spare was one of the artists I used in my research.  I first came across O Spare in an article in the Fortean Times (lots of interesting and thought provoking stuff in this magazine). 

http://www.forteantimes.com/

 

 

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

  In an interview with Hannen Swaffer, (An extract from Adventures with Inspiration  Hannen Swaffer) O Spare says about his art; –

“In some cases the ideas are the result of my inward psychical experiences,” Mr. Spare told me, “things I have not necessarily seen, or outwardly experienced. In others, the drawings are automatic, started with no idea as to what form they shall take, and completed without conscious direction.

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

For more info about O Spare;  

 

 http://www.banger.com/spare/index.html

 

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos.html

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos6.html

Media used page 4; Acrylics, inks, silver card, rafia, photo copied images

Pages 3 and 4

page-two-three-and-extramap

page-two-three-and-extramap

 

 

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6 Responses to “Altered Art book page 3 and 4 ‘A Question of Life and Death’”

  1. Hi. Good site.

  2. […] artist who used automatism to express themselves, that I came across Austin Osman Spare (see   page 4 altered book: a matter of Life or Death‘) .  Following  Beton’s and Ernst’s lead, several artist’s applied […]

  3. […] (and they got one), hence the windows and door rattling and shaking.  This reminds me very much of page 4 ‘A Question of Life and Death’  but the question is attempted via a […]

  4. […] from Professor Gunther Von Hagens ‘Body Worlds’ exhibition!  I wrote a post about him HERE.  Ms Wineslinger had painted her body to look like  she had been plastinated – Great fun […]

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