Tag Archives: Death

Top Five Sugar Skull Makeup Designs

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Sugar Skull Makeup by Lindsay Hancock 

At the beginning of the year, I explored a range of inspiring, black and white makeup designs featuring the human skull. The post featured my favourite design and I briefly discussed certain patterns or styles that I find particularly inspiring. Today I thought I would briefly analyse five different sugar skull makeup designs that I admire; this task has been rather challenging, as there are so many fantastic styles or designs online. Before we get started, I thought I would briefly mention the cultural associations related to the sugar skull face painting.

Since 2012, I developed a fascination for the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival including the sugar skulls that have significantly increased in popularity within contemporary art and popular culture. I decided to conduct some additional research online, where I discovered hundreds or even thousands of photographs featuring various sugar skull make up designs.

According to Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayar, these vibrant, hand crafted sugar skulls are designed for the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, an annual tradition featuring a range of activities, decorations and memorials that welcome the ‘departed souls.’1 The Day of the Dead is often celebrated on the 1st and the 2nd of November that reflects both European and Pre Hispanic traditions, as referenced by David Carrasco and Scott Sessions in The Daily Life of the Aztecs.2 I began to question the growing interest in the sugar skull makeup, why do we paint a skull onto our face? and why do we choose sugar skulls as the primary design?

Margo DeMello investigates certain activities and decorations that are prevalent within the Day of the Dead celebration including the skull face painting that, “one again, represent the dead symbolically.” According to DeMello, the Spanish were perturbed by the Aztec’s optimistic perceptions of death and “this is reflected in the skull imagery used by celebrants today, which universally feature smiling skulls.”3

This is their most distinctive quality, the sugar skulls are colourful, vibrant and creative; they provide a positive approach to death and the designs have deeply inspired various cultures from around the world. So here are my five favourite sugar skull makeup designs, enjoy!

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#1 Black and White Sugar Skull: Blair Earcret and Amanda.A.Hughes

As soon as I conducted my research into the sugar skull makeup / face painting, I was instantly inspired by this particular design. Blair Eacret and Akins Hughes have created an inverted skull and the overall style is very unique compared to the other sugar skull patterns that I have discovered online.

This is one creative, yet intriguing design that immediately captured my attention and the artist(s) have successfully created a very interesting perspective in regards to the sugar skulls through the use of black and white makeup or face paint. There is limited information in regards to the process and I have struggled to search for a website or a social media page. This particular design would work really well as a professional photo shoot or a makeup tutorial!4

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#2 Elvis Schmoulianoff: Vegan Makeup Artist

While I was searching through my Facebook news feed, I discovered a very admirable sugar skull design by Elivs Schmoulianoff, a professional makeup artist who sources “cruelty free cosmetics,” as referenced by the artist’s website.5

The dark lines or patterns significantly contrast with the bright, vibrant colours; these particular elements successfully create a very striking design. The yellow and the red just compliment each other perfectly and the dark outlines exemplifies the circular patterns around the eyes, chin and forehead. While the design is beautiful, the eyes or the pupils feature a sinister appearance, which provides a very unique composition.

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#3 Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial by Lindsay Hancock

This is one incredible, yet colourful sugar skull design by Lindsay Hancock who has created a very instructional video tutorial in regards to the overall style. Hancock is a professional makeup artist and stylist from Los Angeles with an extensive modelling portfolio, as referenced by Hancock’s website.6 As I continued to watch the sugar skull tutorial, I was amazed by the different tones, pigments and gradients; they definitely add a very interesting dimension. The final result is very impressive and the photo shoot presents a very shiny complexion that compliments the colourful sequins around the eye sockets and the wig.

This is properly the most colourful sugar skull I have encountered and the style does remind me of a Barbie doll or Nikki Minaj. In one of the photos, Hancock stands in front of a bright, purple backdrop covered in glitter, although the colours are very overpowering at times; In my personal opinion, the makeup does work really well against a white / silver backdrop. Overall the tutorial, the photo shoot and the final result features a very distinctive and eclectic representation of the Mexican sugar skulls.

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#4 Sugar Skull Advertisement for Jose Cuervo

Now this particular design was a surprise discovery that caused me to stop everything completely! According to LEVINE/LEAVITT, the sugar skull make up is designed by Alex Box who has ‘collaborated’ with a very talented photographer, known as Dimitri Daniloff in order to create an advertising campaign for Jose Cuervo.7

The patterns and the gradients are very smooth / refined and the elements contrast with the monochromatic colours and the dark backdrop. There are shadows along the model’s cheekbones that definitely adds definition to the design, the actual shape appears relatively similar to the human skull. This is a very fascinating campaign that has inspired me to try the tequila for myself.

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# Royal Sugar Skull Tutorial by Jangsara

Last by not least, I present a very informative, yet interesting sugar skull tutorial by Jangsara. The site presents a list of instructions in regards to the shading, the definition and the decorations. The design is minimal compared the other styles that I have researched, although the shading around the cheekbones does remind me of the human skull. The actual shape appears similar to the skull, although the sequins do add a decorative element to the design.

While I do admire the sugar skull makeup, the roses are quite distracting and a simple, dark background would elevate the overall design. If the roses were smaller, they properly wouldn’t interfere with the main focal point. Overall the tutorial and the final result is very inspiring, creative and compelling.8

Overall, these are my favourite sugar skull makeup styles and the decision was incredibly challenging, as there are so many impressive designs to choose from. I’ll intend to create an additional post with all the sugar skull designs that I have recently discovered over the past few weeks. It would be interesting to research some male sugar skull designs as well in order to create some variation. I hope you enjoy the post and stay tuned for further updates.

References 

1.Carmichael, Elizabeth and Sayar, Chloe, The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, (Texas: Texas Press Printing, 2003) p.6
2.Carrasco, David and Sessions, Scott, The Daily Life of the Aztecs, (California: ABC-CLIO, 2011) p.249
3.DeMello, Margo, Faces around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face, (California ABC – CLIO, LLC, 2012), p. 58-60.
4.MuchPics, (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/NmNW3J
5.Elvis Schmoulianoff: Make Up, Wigs and Body Art, ‘About,’ (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/pifYhI
6.Lindsay Hancock, YouTube, “Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial,” 31 Oct 2012 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/4pBjgG
7.LEVINE/LEAVITT, “Jose Cuervo by Dimitri Daniloff,” Nov 12, 2010 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/CM3gJC
8.Jangsara, “Tutorial: Royal Sugar Skull,” Sept 16, 2011 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/Zd9qcP


Black and White Skull Makeup Continued

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Yesterday, I shared one of my self portraits with the black and white skull makeup and I thought I would add the rest of the photographs from the series. Once I’ve taken the photographs in the dark laneway, I decided to take some additional photos before I started to remove the makeup. I do enjoy experimenting with the makeup, my aim is to expand or enhance the overall design.

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in my next attempt, I would create a different shape for the teeth and I would add some additional shadows around the eyes or the jaw line. In some of my previous posts, I have discussed my interpretations of death via black and white photography, I have highlighted the most crucial elements so I thought I would keep this particular post relatively short and simple. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts, just click on the link here for Death & the Photographic Image Part I and Part II

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Towards the end of the night, I smudged the makeup in order to created a distressed or deteriorated effect that did create some interesting results. When I view the images, I sometimes can’t believe that I’m the person in the image, I’ve become my own personal representation of death. This is my first attempt with the black and white skull makeup in about two or three years and the photo shoot has provided an excellent opportunity for me to practise, I intend to continually develop or enhance the design.

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The photographs are inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait, 1988 and the artist passed away in 1989 from AIDS, as referenced by the Tate Gallery Website.1 At first, I was fascinated with Mapplethorpe’s black and white self-portrait and the surrounding darkness definitely isolates the artist’s own face and his skull shaped cane; these particular elements have a profound effect in regards to my perceptions of death.

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I regularly associated death with darkness and the reduction of colour or movement, although it’s so hard to articulate the ending of life, as there are so many different explanations. I have repeatedly mentioned these thoughts over the past couple of years and it will be interesting to see if these ideas will progressively change over time.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photographs and I have a surprise that I’m really excited about! I can’t wait to share the details!

DSC_0591111References

1. Mc Ateer, Susan, Tate Gallery, “Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1989,” (Accessed 5/2/15) http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mapplethorpe-self-portrait-ar00496/text-summary


Work in Progress: Death and the Photographic Image

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About a couple of weeks ago, I began to draw a skull onto my face with some black eyeliner, eyeshadow and a very pale foundation. This is my first attempt in about two years and I thought I would practise applying the makeup onto my face before I move onto something more elaborate. I decided to take a few test shots around North Melbourne in order to search for the most appropriate locations and backdrops for a potential photo shoot. Back in 2013, I have taken some self-portraits at the beach in Airey’s Inlet and I thought it would be interesting to take some photographs within the city.

I began to question whether the makeup impacts my perception of death and the human skull? As soon as I create the eye sockets, I begin to realise that death is inevitable, unavoidable, yet so ambiguous; the end of life will eventually occur and my skull will eventually surpass my very own existence.

At times, I am slightly perturbed by the idea, although there are certain stages of the makeup process, where I’ll concentrate on the actual design or the application. There are times, where I won’t think about death until I’ve taken the photograph, as I have the time to go back and reflect upon the overall process. It really depends on my mood or my surroundings, as my interpretation in regards to death changes on a daily basis.

I decided to take some photographs / self-portraits opposite the train station, as well as an empty alleyway that I discovered on my way home. I decided to take some test shots and I intend to revisit the same location for the photo shoot, I was surprised with the results and I was pleased with the photograph next to the train tracks, hopefully I can expand upon this particular idea.

When I viewed the photographs on my computer, I began to realise that the images capture a younger version of myself, I have aged since the time the photo was taken. The overall concept has invited me to consider the idea that every day, every month and every year is another step closer to death.

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In one of my previous posts, I briefly mentioned Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores the camera’s ability to capture one’s own mortality.1 According to Sontag, “photography is the inventory of mortality. A touch of a finger now suffices to invest in a moment with posthumous irony.”2 Sontag’s theories have invited me to question whether my self-portraits will continue to exist after my death?

Have I managed to capture my own mortality through these self-portraits? As I mentioned before, the self-portraits have invited me to explore my ageing process, while the person in the photograph remains young forever, I’ll continue to age everyday until I face the inevitable. The end of life and the beginning of death is such a natural, yet disturbing idea that I do find particularly fascinating and perplexing.

Sontag does explore some very interesting concepts relating to the connection between death and photography. The author refers to Roman Vishnic who has taken photographs of the ‘ghettos in Poland’ during the early 1930’s and Vishnic realised that the people / civilians would eventually ‘perish’ or disappear.3 Sontag explains that “photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people.”4

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I agree with Sontag’s theories, as I am haunted by this particular idea and it’s often strange to realise that the people in the photograph or the image will eventually die, everyone will die at some stage including myself.5 In a way, the self-portraits resonate a connection to death and mortality, although I have wondered what would happen to the image if I destroyed the physical surface of the photographic print.

I decided to take a closer look at my self-portraits and I realised that the photographs were very smooth and I decided to destroy the physical surface of the print in order to establish a closer connection to death. I decided to crumple the images and rub the paper together; as a result the ink from the printer tarnished certain areas of the images and the experiment successfully created a distressed effect.

In 2012, I decided to destroy my images using water, cello tape, paint and chalk in order to present the notion of decay and disintegration; I have decided to continue the project in order to determine whether these ideas or concepts have progressed since the beginning of 2012.

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I do prefer the distressed images, as they successfully establish a greater connection to death. I cannot imagine death as a smooth, perfect or pristine image, I imagine death as a body slowly decaying or disintegrating into a decomposing corpse. I believe the images can be destroyed even further in order to establish this particular style, at the moment I’m just exploring different concepts.

Ripping or crumpling the photographic portraits distorted my self-image and the backdrop, when I viewed the images in the laneway, I noticed that the colour has changed to a brown / sepia tone. I actually prefer this particular effect and the change of colour adds to the level of decay, maybe it is possible to find a connection to death through monochromatic or sepia tones.

I have often questioned what happens to the body after death, can the photographic image portray the process of decomposition? This is what I intend to explore over the next few weeks and sometimes it is really difficult to destroy something you’ve created yourself, although it would be interesting to see what happens over time, will these images change in some way? I am really interested to see where this project will take me, this is all I have for now but stay tuned for further updates!

References
1. Susan Sontag, “On Photography” (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
3. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
4. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
5. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15


The Memento Series

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Photography and Makeup by Charlotte Pridding

The other day, I was searching through the files on my computer, where I rediscovered one of my photographic projects from the beginning of last year. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that these photographs were stored away in my computer and I wondered why I haven’t shared them before.

The project continues to explore my own interpretations of death and the human skull through the application of face paint including black and white self-portraiture. I decided to experiment with different environments / props in order to create a different effect that significantly contrasts with my previous self-portraits, where I have often photographed myself in front of a dark backdrop.

To be honest, the photo shoot provided an excellent opportunity to practise my makeup / face painting skills within a limited timeframe and I randomly decided to include a black sheet at the very last-minute that surprisingly complimented with the face paint and the natural backdrops. Sometimes it’s those last-minute decisions that can deliver some very interesting results!

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I have often wondered what actually happens to the human body after death? Do we find ourselves in a completely different existence or realm all together? It’s quite difficult to explain, as the whole idea or concept in regards to death seems quite ambiguous to me.

I’m particularly fascinated in the interpretation of death within Western culture and I have often wondered whether death or immortality remains a sensitive subject? Is it something that we fear or have we accepted or embraced the idea? While the subject isn’t openly discussed, the contemporary culture is completely saturated with skulls and I often wondered whether it’s original meaning or purpose is diluted through constant repetition? The skull certainly appears as a popular icon that attracts fascination from the public or the consumer.

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It’s hard to tell really, as each person would have their own experiences or perceptions. These self-portraits are used as a way to explore some of these ideas and they also reflect some of my own interpretations that frequently change on a daily basis. While the whole concept of death is rather daunting at times, I have acknowledged that it’s an important part of life itself.

The self-portraits remind me of a life threatening experience a few years ago involving a car accident and I can remember my mind turning completely blank, everything became dark and unfamiliar, as if I was taken to a different place all together. I tried to forget about the incident for a while, although I have discovered that my interest for skulls derives from this particular experience.

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The self-portraits have allowed me to come terms with the accident and the photographs have become a reminder of death, the overall concept reminds me of the Memento Mori. Over the past few weeks, I’ve become fascinated with Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores some very interesting concepts relating to photography and the Memento Mori.1

According to Susan Sontag, “All photographs are Momento Mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify a time’s relentless melt.” 2

I then began to wonder whether it is possible to record my own mortality through my self-portraits? In reference to Sontag, a photograph reflects a particular moment in time, while I’m growing older I can refer back to the younger images of myself. 3 The whole idea just seems surreal to me, I would love to take photographs every year in order to document the process or the journey from life to death.

According to Enrico De Pascale from ‘Death and Resurrection in Art,’ the Memento Mori is a Latin, Medieval concept that was used as a reminder or death and mortality. Many traditional or Renaissance paintings relating to the Memento Mori would normally feature ‘hour glasses, clocks or skulls’ that were used to reflect one’s own mortality. 4

I have had a couple of people who have mentioned that the works appear similar to a Swedish film, known as the Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman; this is quite fascinating, as I only discovered this film after the photo shoot and it’s strange how these things happen! If you are interested in learning more about the Seventh Seal, click on the links below.5

skull5 Overall, the portraits explore the way death can cause anxiety, fear and isolation; they have become a very useful way to confront some of these thoughts and ideas. This is just the very start, as I’m hoping to expand upon these concepts in the next few months.

Check out the Facebook page to view additional images, https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22

References:

1. Susan Sontag. On Photography (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
3. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
4. Enrico De Pascale, Death and Resurrection in Art (USA: Paul Getty Museum, 2009) p.86-89
5. The Seventh Seal by Igmar Bergman, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050976/


Extraordinary Three Dimensional Skulls by Alain Bellino

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Alain Bellino, Vie de Chateau

Yesterday, I discovered the works of Alain Bellino, an artist / sculptor based in France who has successfully transformed a range of antiques and ornaments into these magnificent three-dimensional skulls. At first, I was immediately impressed by the level of detail and craftsmanship; Bellino’s sophisticated, yet perplexing designs provide a unique approach towards sculpting and metal restoration.

According to Bellino’s Behance website, the artist initially explored ornamentation and metal restoration in the 1980’s; Bellino applies these intricate materials with his own distinctive style in order to create a series of extraordinary, yet imaginative works of art.

The Renaissance period and the Vanitas have inspired the artist’s work that successfully combines a traditional European style with a modern, contemporary design. Bellino meticulously wields certain metals including Bronze, Silver and Gold in order to create a collection of inspiring, three-dimensional works, as referenced by the artist’s Behance site.

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There are two works in particular that immediately captured my attention, the first one features a delicately, hand-crafted skull that features a range of creative, eclectic designs. The sculpture also features a castle that is attached to the very top of the skull; now this particular element is remarkably impressive to say the least!

I decided to view the image from a closer perspective and the skull is constructed from a range of floral patterns and designs; from a personal perspective Bellino’s sculpture successfully explores the concept of death. While the idea of fatality is imminent within Bellino’s work, the sculpture itself doesn’t necessarily feature a grim or grotesque representation. This is just my own interpretation anyway, I’m sure there are plenty of other meanings associated with this particular work.

Voyage is another fabulous sculpture produced by Bellino that features a detailed, intricate ship along with a silvery, monochromatic skull. The work is rather surreal and the detail is phenomenal, viewing this particular sculpture in person would be an incredible experience.

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Bellino, Voyage

Every time I view the skull, I recognise something different or something I never even realised before. Take the key holes for instance, I never even recognised this fine detail until I decided to view the work for the second time, Voyage always has something unique to offer to the audience.

One could argue that Bellino’s Voyage, demonstrates the artist’s fascination with Renaissance art that is combined with a series of unusual designs. I can’t possibly imagine how long it would have taken Bellino to produce this particular work, it would be very interesting to find out!

Now I have mentioned two particular works that I have found inspiring, however I have recently discovered another image featuring a golden arrow impaling a bright, red apple that are both placed onto the top of a metallic skull. The colours significantly contrast with one another and the apple becomes a strong focal point; each individual detail delivers a very unique element that is almost impossible to forget!

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Bellino, Successful 

As you can see, Alain Bellino has created some fabulous works, if you are interested in viewing the artist’s portfolio, click on the links below for further information. Justina Bakutyte has written a very interesting article in regards to the works of Alain Bellino that is definitely worth reading, just check out the link below.

References

Alian Bellino, “About” https://www.behance.net/sculpteur

Alian Bellino, Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alain-Bellino-sculpture/336728229684306

Justina Bakutyte, “Extremely Detailed Steampunk – Inspired Bronze Sculptures by Alain Bellino,” July 3, 2014, Beautiful Decay, http://beautifuldecay.com/2014/07/03/extremely-detailed-steampunk-inspired-bronze-sculptures-alain-bellino/

Skull Appreciation Society, “Sculptures by Alain Bellino,” January  2 2014, http://skullappreciationsociety.com/sculptures-alain-bellino/


Brook Andrew: Vox Tasmania at the National Gallery of Victoria

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Human Skull & the Gramophone in Vox Tasmania – Brook Andrew

Yesterday I decided to search through all of my photographs that I have taken over the past year and it’s surprising what you will actually find! I found one photo in particular that immediately captured my attention and I began to wonder why I left this image on my SD card for so long.

In February 2014, I remember visiting the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that explored Melbourne’s artistic and cultural diversity. According to the official NGV website, the Melbourne Now exhibition featured a range of contemporary works including visual arts, sculpture, graphic design, architecture and performance art.

I was fascinated with one installation in particular entitled ‘Vox: Tasmania’ by Brook Andrew, a contemporary artist born in Sydney whose work depicts certain issues relating to culture, identity and colonialism, as referenced by the NGV website. On Brook Andrew’s WordPress Site, the artist specifically mentions his ‘Australian indigenous / Scottish’ heritage that may feature a connection towards the artist’s work. 

According to Andrew’s WordPress Page, ‘Vox Tasmania’ features a range of books, photographs, images and artefacts that reflect the treatment of the indigenous community in Australia during the 19th century.

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Human Skeleton within Vox Tasmania – Brook Andrew

In reference to the NGV, Andrew’s work is based upon the research and documentation conducted by Richard Berry; an autonomist who collected indigenous remains from Tasmania in order to thoroughly analyse this particular race. The skulls were often used as possessions or trophies and the remains were used for other ‘scientific purposes.’

The installation also features a large, intricate gramophone that is placed next to the wunderkammer; according to Andrew, the gramophone amplifies the way these indigenous remains were perceived or valued back in the 1990’s. As I peered through the gramophone, I recognised a human skull enclosed within a glass container and the installation does provide a very interesting perspective.

From a personal perspective, the gramophone does create distance between the viewer and the skull; it was as if I was viewing the installation from the other side of the gallery space. Once I continued to walk around the installation, I suddenly realised how close I was standing to the wunderkammer. The work itself creates an illusion, to me the installation did create quite a surreal experience.

As I began to walk around the installation, I immediately discovered an entire human skeleton carefully and delicately rearranged within the container. This is definitely my favourite section and I couldn’t take my eyes off the skeleton, I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a real human skull before, well I haven’t actually seen one in the flesh before.

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Photograph Two – Human Skeleton in the Wunderkammer

The human skull reflects a moment in time, a moment in history that is almost impossible to forget. The installation has invited me to question whom the remains to belong to and the actual cause of death, the mistreatment towards the indigenous population stares the viewer right in the face!

The installation was confronting and the skull initiates ideas relating to death or mortality and I began to wonder what happens to our remains once we die? Would our bones last forever or would they eventually disintegrate?

The work itself does provide quite a confronting experience, although I was intrigued by the overall subject matter. While I couldn’t take my eyes off the skeleton I was also quite disturbed by these historical moments and the way these remains were treated.

The installation also features a range of books, images and photographs that also coincides with the human skeleton. It’s interesting to see how these different elements connect to each other in some way. As I continued to walk around the wunderkammer, I began to recognise the minor details that I failed to recognise at the very beginning, it was as if I was searching for the missing pieces for a jigsaw puzzle.

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Artefacts, Images and records within the installation 

Overall the Melbourne Now exhibition at the NGV was definitely worth the visit and the works on display were displayed in a unique, creative manner. Andrew’s ‘Vox Tasmania’ explores an intriguing yet confronting subject through a range of images, photos and historical artefacts including a real human skeleton!

The way the works were displayed was fascinating; although I was shocked to discover the way these remains were used for research or private collections. If you haven’t see Andrew’s work before I would definitely recommend visiting the artist’s WordPress page or the NGV website.

Photographs taken by Black Calavera – Charlotte Pridding

References

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, “About the Exhibition,” National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, last modified 17/7/14, http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow/about-melbourne-now

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, “Meet the Artists: Brook Andrew,” last modified
17/7/14, National Gallery of Victoria 2013,
http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow/artists/andrew

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, Wall Text – Brook Andrew: Vox Tasmania, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Brook Andrew, “Planet Art: The Best Art from Around the World, June 2013, WordPress, last modified 17/7/14, https://brookandrew.wordpress.com/page/2/

Brook Andrew, “Researcher Profile,” Monash University 2014, http://www.monash.edu.au/research/people/profiles/profile.html?sid=51592&pid=4536


Emma Allen’s Ruby, an Extraordinary Animation of Incarnation

Animation from YouTube (Link attached below)

A couple of days ago, I received a very interesting video from the Black Calavera Facebook Page that was posted by Ryan Fehily. The stop motion animation was originally uploaded onto Vimeo, this particular clip was produced by Emma Allen an artist who specifically works with ‘animation, face painting and body painting’, as referenced by Allen’s official website. 1

When I first viewed Allen’s clip, I was particularly fascinated with the level of craftsmanship, the face paint featured some decorative patterns and designs that gradually changed throughout the stop motion animation. According to Allen’s Vimeo Page, the animation features the artist who has painted her own face in order to present ideas of ‘incarnation’. The artist animates herself ageing, Allen’s face slowly transforms into a skull that suddenly makes a rapid transition into a living creature.

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Allen’s Transformation 

So I began to wonder, what is the definition of incarnation? According to the Australian Oxford Dictionary, incarnation is a psychical ‘manifestation’ from an abstract concept. In reference to Allen’s stop motion animation, the artist becomes an embodiment of life and death through the application of face paint. 2

The name of the clip, Ruby is rather intriguing, this does add a level of mystery to the animation, I have wondered whether the title has a reference or a connection to Allen’s work?

I was intrugued by the skull that Allen had painted onto her own face, for me personally the surrounding darkness becomes a reminder of death and disintegration. Allen presents the processes of ageing, the artist’s facial features gradually change throughout the clip, which is quite a unique concept!

From a personal perspective, the animation does question what actually happens after death? I’m not too sure if there is a specific answer to this question, although it is interesting to view Allen’s own interpretations of ‘incarnation’ 

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Images from Allen’s Animation

Throughout the clip, the black and white skull is composed with colourful / decorative designs; Allen’s face suddenly transforms into a range of leaves, branches and flowers that also provides a unique aesthetic. There is a very interesting composition between the skull and the floral patterns / designs, from a personal perspective the face paint does question what happens to the soul when a person dies? Is there another life or entity waiting for us on the other side?

Who knows really, these are very difficult questions to answer, when I first viewed the animation I was convinced that the concept was inspired by ‘reincarnation’ as Allen depicts herself slowly decaying, the clip explores the transition from death to another physical entity or form.

The use of glitter also adds an interesting composition that significantly contrasts with the surrounding darkness. I was instantly captivated by Allen’s extraordinary designs, the glitter also disguises Allen’s features that also provides another creative approach to the animation. Towards the end of the clip, Allen’s face suddenly transforms into a wild cat and the designs appear similar to a lion or a leopard.

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Notions of Incarnation

It is interesting to view how the designs change over time, I wasn’t quite expecting to see a lion or a leopard towards the very end, although this does reflect the idea of reincarnation. Allen’s designs are definitely creative and imaginative, it is also interesting to view the combination of face paint and stop motion animation. If you haven’t seen this clip before, I would definitely recommend visiting Allen’s Vimeo page!

Click on the link below to view Allen’s official website!

1. http://www.emmaallen.org/about/

2. Moore, Bruce (ed) The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Australia: Oxford University Press, 1996) 

3. http://vimeo.com/72670988

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ch4A9PnZI

Image Citations

http://www.123inspiration.com/ruby-reincarnation-in-75-seconds-by-emma-allen/

http://www.broadsheet.ie/2013/11/09/reincarnation/

http://www.slrlounge.com/ruby-life-death-reincarnation-amazing-stop-motion-video