by Robert WK Clark
Robert WK Clark
Photograph - Fine Art Print
The combination of Lesha, Nikki, Megan, Yvonne, and Katerina conjures powerful connotations of death's cold purity and the human form as a liminal space between life and death. Much like a Day of the Dead celebration, it celebrates and lionizes the dead without becoming grossly macabre.
The women shape a skull with their form. Two eyeholes are created by the women arcing their form, while teeth are conjured by using the feet of the women forming the jaw. However, looking more closely, there are far more teeth than there could be feet of the ten models. The bottom part of the teeth must therefore be a non-human component.
In fact, non-human components like a painting for the brow help to establish an important theme. In death, humanity returns to being of the same type as other elements of matter, no long different in some undefinable way. But since death itself is only a difference of degree, not a difference of quality, from life, even the women themselves are of the same material in some way as the non-living elements that fill out the shape of the skull.
The fact that women tie their bodies together to make the skull shows the connection between woman as lifegiver and deathgiver: By granting life, women logically grant death. The artist has numerous works that emphasize women as Earthmother and childbearer, so this is a logical commentary on those themes. The women themselves are bony enough, through their own merits, that they seem to be gaunt enough to be almost death-like themselves. Further, the skull shape perhaps human, but is in fact like an animal, a predatory creature, emphasizing death as the ultimate predator. By having living and non-living elements come together to make a symbol of death, the piece emphasizes that life and death are a part of the same continuum, life between unliving and death. A tribute to Salvador Dali, Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.© Robert WK Clark
January 20th, 2016
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