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Photography and Death


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MacDonald, AL 2007 , 'Photography and Death', paper presented at the Revelations, 26-27 March 2007, Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart.

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The visual representation of transience, through the exploitation of the symbolic
potential of objects in the genre widely known as still life, has preoccupied artists
throughout Western art history. The still life genre is being interrogated and
reinvented by contemporary photo media artists, as photography has a unique
connection with still life and death, due to its ability to arrest time and literally still
life. The photographic still life not only builds on the long history of Vanitas imagery
in art, but also brings with it the additional association of the photograph as memento
This illustrated paper considers a series of photographic installations produced by the
author, drawing on the cemetery as a source of ideas and imagery in works addressing
death. The author will discuss a range of strategies used to develop metaphors for
death in works such as Above and Below the Grave 1990, Ophelia 1993 and Petal
2000, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart; Inconsolable 1992, Père Lachaise and
Montmarte Cemeteries, Paris; Vanitas 1995, Rookwood Necropolis, Sydney;
culminating in Memory 2007, Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:MacDonald, AL
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Images and text © 2007 the author

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