By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
Combining nature with death is also the idea behind some really creepy photos in the back gallery that depict it graphically. Here, Mann has documented bodies that were donated for scientific research and left out in nature so forensic scientists could observe the process of decomposition. I don't need to tell you that I didn't linger with these shots, even though the out-of-focus effects renders them more visceral than gross.
Death is more metaphorical in the strange photos and videos by Slater Bradley, who obsesses over the suicides of Gen X rock stars Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain. These guys turned being bummed out into essential parts of their public personas, which is ironic considering the names of their groups: Joy Division and Nirvana.
Bradley has posed — or had a friend pose — dressed and made up as though he is either Curtis or Cobain. The impersonator plays the role of a living doppelgänger for the dead musician. In "I hate myself and want to die" — now, there's a title — Bradley takes a straight-on portrait of his friend as Cobain. The model, with his head cocked and his hair in his taciturn face, is wearing a Sonic Youth T-shirt, and though he doesn't look anything like Cobain, the illusion makes us think of the tragic rocker anyway. In this way, Bradley shows how these icons live on in the culture long after they've died.
The last of the three photographers in Still is Nigel Poor, a woman who explores dead insects in two installations. In "287 Flies," Poor has taken photos of dead flies and face-mounted them in clear acrylic roundels that have been scattered over a couple of walls in the large set of side galleries. In "Killing Season," Poor actually dispatched the insects herself, though only inadvertently — or maybe as an aside. What she did was to write a dictionary definition of an insect-related word on a sheet of paper. She then attached the sheet to the front of her car so the paper became spattered with dead insects that would have been caught on the grille of her radiator if the paper hadn't been there. "Killing Season" includes digital photos of dozens of these sheets.
While Out of Place is fairly engaging and Still is off-putting, the fact that they are both about conceptual photography gives us a chance to have the aesthetic corollary of a sweet-and-sour sauce: a complex mix of opposing yet complementary tastes.