Flat Death: Edgar Martins & Jordan Baseman
15th January - 3rd April 2016
There is a strong connection between photography and mortality; photographs
can be a startling and painful representation of a person who no longer
exists. With this exhibition by Edgar Martins and Jordan Baseman we have
a direct link between photography and death itself.
The works by Martins are of an abstract nature in their representations
of death. The story of a suicide note written on a paper plane and thrown
out of a prison is especially memorable.
An issue for this reviewer is that censorship has unfortunately reared
its head. The curator has decided not to show certain pictures for safeguarding
purposes. This made the exhibition seem incomplete as the descriptions
of the pictures were present but without the pictures!
One cant help feeling that a better approach would have been to
include them but also include a warning on entering the gallery of potentially
distressing content. With the subject matter of death should the artists
vision really be diluted? Are potential visitors likely to expect something
Like with any other art form Im of the view that something should
be shown completely as intended or not at all. This certainly doesnt
devalue the work that was shown, but Id
have preferred to have seen all of it.
Far starker was the work by Jordan Baseman which includes a selection
of funereal pictures of embalmed bodies including children. The idea is
to show the link between portrait photography and embalming which share
a purpose of creating a pleasant image and memory. The material is shown
as a slide show in a quiet and dark room and is tastefully done.
The exhibition is generally pragmatic and unsentimental which made it
interesting rather than mawkish.
Also, the Open Eye has taken a socially responsible approach with supportive
materials available from mental health agencies. The free exhibition brochure
includes an interview with the curator Thomas Dukes and Angela Samata
who sits on the suicide prevention All Party Parliamentary Group.
Overall, this is an interesting exhibition. It should provoke discussion
on how the arts should represent death and whether they can contribute
to the breaking of this enduring taboo.