Memento Mori (2002)
Triptych: Mixed media, Digital Print size; 303x294.
Memento Mori was made shortly after an unexpected death of my father. Dealing with the suddenness of the death and the bureaucracy that followed were difficult. Even though my father was elderly and with known health issues, the coroner insisted that a postmortem should be carried out to establish the 'exact' cause of death. Postmortem procedures are hugely invasive, authoritarian, and, enact a form of violence on the body of the deceased that I found objectionable, and in this case, was unnecessary.
The pathologist’s report confirmed the cause of death was, as expected, due to natural causes, heart failure due to lung disease. Ironically, it seems, without announcing beforehand their imminent death to the authorities, people are no longer allowed to die of old age or with dignity.
The artwork in response to this experience began with an examination of a rubbish tip at an art shool. I found four items of interest: a fabricated three-sectioned glass structure that to me looked like a pathologist’s display; various electrical switches with attachments; and a misshaped
sphere of tightly crumpled white paper with electric wires protruding from its centre that resembled a human heart. I also found a large clear plastic bag that was partly burnt. Unidentifiable, blackened objects and ash had stuck to, and had become part of the fabric of the bag, that now seemed to resemble a diseased lung. I made an imaginary ‘death mask’ fabricated with plaster, and, after positioning one object in each of the sections, I filled the tank with water adding red powdered dye. I then recorded photographically my findings.