Tag Archives: Mortality

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


Skull Frenzy in Melbourne CBD!

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Skull Merchandise in Typo

Ok so I know I haven’t posted in a while with moving house and working full-time, life has been pretty hectic at the moment! so where do I begin? well at the very start of the year, I posted a blog post each day and now I am convinced that I should start posting more regularly. I know I haven’t posted for a least a few months, so I began to wonder…..where do i even start?!

So I started to browse through the images I have taken on my mobile phone, I normally take photos with my SLR camera although there are several times where I have found something interesting and I didn’t have all my equipment with me at the time. In Melbourne there is always something new or interesting to find, I remember taking a short cut to the station, at first I was just walking down a dull, dark and grungy alleyway until a recognised an entire wall of graffiti that featured vibrant and intricate designs.

So here I am standing in awe in a deserted alleyway admiring some of the extraordinary and incredible designs that were right in front of me, this is what I enjoy about the city, there’s always something new to discover.

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Ceramic Skulls in Window Display

So I use my phone to take snap shots and then I revisit the same place with the proper equipment including my SLR camera, gee what would we do without mobile phones? Ok so I know my trip to the station is slightly off topic, although I have come to realise that my phone has been used to document graffiti, window displays, billboards, posters and even those random events or festivals that I occasionally walk into on a saturday afternoon.

So as many of you know by now I am particularly fascinated with the skull in popular culture, contemporary art and design, as a matter of fact the skull is everywhere, you could be eating a taco and you’ll see a skeletal figurine next to the hot chilli sauce! So what is the first photograph I find stored in my mobile phone?

I discovered a photo of two ceramic skulls outside a two dollar shop within the middle of a small shopping centre, the entire window display was rather strange there were ceramic skulls placed with crystal ornaments, I wasn’t too sure what was going on.

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The reason why I had taken this photograph is because I was particularly fascinated in the way the skull is commercialised, the skull has become a product, a commoditized item that can be purchased for only a few dollars. It’s quite strange to think that our skull that holds all of our most precious and vital organs has become a mass-produced item. I have often wondered whether all of these skull t-shirts, banners, posters, figurines etc actually remind us of our own humanity or existence?

So do I think of my own mortality when I view an image of the human skull? for me this is a hard question, at times I do start to contemplate upon life and death, then there are times where I feel nothing at all. Personally the context would have a strong impact, a two dollar ceramic skull in a shopping mall would surely generate a completely different interpretation to a skull that is displayed in a film or an exhibition space?

Ok so these cheap ceramic skulls were rather eclectic but I was interested in the random and unusual display, so I decided to take a photograph for future reference.

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Clear It Warehouse / Factory: Dangerfield & Pulp Kitchen Collection – Melbourne, Fitzory 

As I browse through my photographs, I have realised that I do take quite a lot of photos of Typo. Typo is a retro stationery store that often sells a range of popular skull merchandise, in fact every time I walk into Typo I instantly find an entire display of skull notebooks, pencil cases, pens, cups and metallic storage containers. It appears that Typo have used the skull because it’s a popular image, in fact I’m convinced the skull will never loose popularity as this anatomical part of our body is something we can all relate to.

I also remember taking photographs of a retail warehouse in Fitzroy, I remember finding skull printed scarfs, jeans, bandannas, t-shirts, skirts, dresses, even swim suits, in fact the entire warehouse was full of skull printed outfits! Ok so Fitzroy is a fantastic place to find random and spontaneous items, it’s the type of place where you’ll find sofa’s, old bicycles and stacks of milk crates placed on every street corner.

Fitzroy have all sorts of quirky stores and gallery spaces, almost every second window featured a skull, my phone definitely ran out of battery life towards the end of the day!

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Skull Painting in Window Display, Artist Unknown – Melbourne, Fitzroy 

So there we are the skull is everywhere, I suppose I’m continually trying to find new and interesting representations of the skull. It’s actually interesting to think how the symbol of death and mortality has become one of the most popular commercial products within the contemporary visual culture! I can’t walk to the end of the street without recognising at least one person wearing a skull printed scarf, jumper or t-shirt, we just continually purchase these products and never really stop to consider the actual meaning or significance behind the image or the item we’ve just bought!

It’s ironic really, death is still considered as a taboo subject within Western culture, although the majority of products are literally plastered with images of skulls, even baby clothes have skulls on the front! None the less, it’s just a bit of fun just to wear a skull printed t-shirt or a scarf to the supermarket, well everyone else wears the same thing now!

So if you are bored and want to find something interesting to do, take your camera and travel to Melbourne, you’ll be surprised with how many random objects you’ll find 🙂 I know I haven’t posted regularly in a while, now that I have some extra time on my hands I be able to keep on top of things, stay tuned!


Ekaterina Murysina

21/6/12 – Missing Personality (Death)

A classmate had sent me an image of Ekaterina Murysina’s amazing skull via Facebook.  The artist’s online CV explains that Murysina is an illustrator who has studied multimedia, animation and design.

Murysina’s website also provides an artist’s statement in relation to the illustration of the skull. The work questions the artist’s own interpretations of death, which also reflects the death of a relative and a close friend.

One could argue that Murysina has applied exceptional colour, line and texture to the image, which invites one to gaze into the spirals or the circular patterns. The warm colours with the pink overtones exemplifies the shape or the tone of the skull, which is positioned within the centre of the image.

The skull is composed with two woman who appear subconscious or immortal. The two women clutch on the circular patterns like a piece of fabric, which drapes from the skull’s eye socket. Perhaps the image provides a juxtaposition between youth, beauty and death.

The patterns or the spirals do appear similar to strands of hair, which may reflect the artists encounters with the death of her grandmother.  One could argue that the artist has included certain characteristics from her grandmother and her friend with the image of the skull in order to represent Mursyina encounters with death.

The patterns may suggest that there is another world or dimension, which exceeds beyond human life, which may encourage the viewer to closely observe the spirals. The skull conceals the face like a mask, which may reflect the artists own perception of death or mortality.

Ekaterina Murysina, “Curriculum Vitae”, Ekaterine Murysina Website, http://murysina.com/Curriculum-Vitae (Accessed 21/6/12)

Image from website, http://murysina.com/Curriculum-Vitae