4 Days to Go: Death through the Lens of Art

Today’s blog post is from Helen, one of our marketing team, in the lead up to the opening of our exhibition in 4 days time!

As part of our coursework assignment alongside the planning of Looking Beyond we were tasked to write a critical analysis of the exhibition source text – Lapwing and Fox. I chose to write about discussions of death in the public sphere – specifically in published book form or displayed as part of a museum exhibition.

As the common phrase goes, death and taxes are the only certainties in life. The subject of death is one that has produced a large catalogue of artwork and literature in an effort by so many people throughout history to understand this certain unknown. Berger and Christie share stories, in Lapwing and Fox, on how photographs and artwork make them remember friends and family who have passed away. The art acts as a opening for the men to talk about difficult topics, and to share painful memories. Art and artefacts have the power to conjure memories and often we form emotional bonds with these inanimate objects themselves. These responses are the basis of our upcoming exhibition.

 Museums and galleries are ideal places to deal with the difficult subject of death – after all, historical museum collections are echoes of the past themselves. Death is a shared certainly. Psycological studies show that taking about death openly is beneficial to a healthy awareness of mortality, and of reflection on life. However, this does not always  mean that people are happy to discuss death in a public setting. Over the course of the 20th century, death has become an increasingly private affair; mysterious and unseen. Death happens behind closed doors, and spoken of in hushed tones.

Would you be comfortable sharing views on death in a public space? In writing or out loud? How do you feel about discussion of on death in museum and gallery displays? 

Let us know @LookingBeyond16 and on #LookingBeyond16



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