Thursday, October 5, 2006

Ars Moriendi (the art of dying)

Sam Taylor-Wood: Still Life, 2001 - two stills from 35mm, 3:44 mins

Sam Taylor Wood's "Still Life" - a Old Master's stylee bowl of fruit, lit in caravaggio style - which decompses to a black glue over 3:44 minutes... small bit of video in interview here
snip from article on

"In “Still-Life” the fruit heaped in a woven container looks luscious as a still life by Caravaggio or Zurbaran, but as our eyes roam over the peach-bloom, the light alters subtly, and a pear stalk droops downwards. Everything, suddenly, is on the move. Although the film sequence only lasts three minutes and forty-four seconds, the changes it charts are as fast as they are catastrophic. The peaches sprout a pale grey mould, the cherries are assailed by a bilious green growth, and soon everything seems about to be smothered in a frost-like blight. Once piled high and swollen with ripeness, the fruit now sinks lower and lower, until an annihilating black substance creeps across everything. In this short yet devastating film, Taylor-Wood takes the European still-life tradition, with its ominous hints of transience, and pushes it into a state of absolute decomposition. At once seductive and desolating, Taylor-Wood’s memento mori begins with vitalizing sensuality and ends in rotting negation."

and from thinking about art blog:

"Guilty pleasures! Taylor-Wood's photography leaves a lot to be desired for some people. I've liked her work, but it has never knocked my socks off. This piece was a video, just about four minutes long, of a bowl of fruit. It was timelapsed in such a way that over the course of the four minutes, the bowl of fruit moves from fresh to rotten (very rotten!). The changes are almost imperceptible but as you watch the video, mold grows and and the fruit falls apart. The clear crowd favorite, I found this piece to be hilarious. The bowl of fruit is the typical still life subject matter. Lit like an Old Master painting, Taylor-Wood first pokes fun at the notion of the still life by photographing the scene. But she doesn't stop there. She makes a video of the still life. Whereas Old Masters would only paint perfectly ripe fruit (idealizing it, perhaps?), this artist finds beauty in decay. I saw this as a possible statement that still lifes are tired as a genre and it's time for them to go away. A stretch perhaps, but I've grown tired of stale still life paintings. Still Life was a fun piece and always had dozens of people intently watching it unfold.

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