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Shades of embodiment, unravelling the thread of life : an exploration of the sacred associated with death and dying in a historical and cultural context


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Aedy, A 2005 , 'Shades of embodiment, unravelling the thread of life : an exploration of the sacred associated with death and dying in a historical and cultural context', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There are numerous variations in the ways of dying, and dealing with death and
grief. The sheer universality of the experience produces the knowledge that we are
all deeply connected and begs to question and define human nature and the human
condition, which is universal across all cultures. Embodied in ritual or religious
ceremonies of all ethnic groups, certain objects and materials are believed to contain
a form of presence and, through mythology, spiritualism and symbolism, become
metaphors of death and life itself. The project Shades of Embodiment materialises
through a series of forms used to signify the body. The body is used because it
houses consciousness and is the piece left behind when we die.
The concept that the 'sacred' and the body are embedded together is reflected in
materials and rituals, created and used in concurrence with the body. This concept
provides the framework of this study. Various cultural beliefs are interpreted through
making and communicated through the sculptural work which transforms meaning
into materiality as well as transforming materiality into meaning, through the use of
binaries such as temporary and permanent, routine and ritual, natural to man made
materials and, ultimately, life and death. A wide variety of materials have been
explored including paper, wax, hessian, plastic, cotton and mud, as well as
aluminium, lead, pressed tin and dust. Experienced together en masse each body
figure is brought into a presence all its own. Together they become physical
emblems of life itself, vessels for living. As objects, they are personal relics that
resonate with the passage through daily life. The scale of these figures echoes human embodiment: they are life size. They are
like us in order to speak of our tenuous connection and disconnection with the
thread of life, and to conjure uncomfortable associations with Freud's 'uncanny.' The
placement of these body figures and the connections they manifest is reminiscent of
catacombs, Egyptian mummies and the figures of Pompeii. The gallery space
becomes a space between life and death, a psychological, private space. It is hoped
that viewers leave their fear at the door and transcend their own dark space
between. Religious faith may be lost for some, and yet presence may be felt through
daily life, the places where a higher force should be. The installation, Shades of
Embodiment reflects on this missing element in human experience.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Aedy, A
Keywords: Death in art, Funeral rites and ceremonies in art
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD.)--University of Tasmania, 2005.

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