The University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society wouldn’t make many people’s dream list of places to work, but Dr John Troyer must like it – he’s the deputy director. The sociologist grew up with a funeral director father, and as such saw first-hand the many processes involved in preparing a corpse for burial, especially embalming techniques used for open casket ceremonies.
Deadness is an artistic investigation into death by Jordan Baseman, made up of three strands: slide projections with sound (Deadness), photographic (February 09 2013), and a film (The Last Walk). The first collection in collaboration with Dr Troyer focuses on embalming for portraiture, and the goal of the funeral director to give the deceased a sleeping look to suggest peace, regardless of the cause of death. The second centres on the wildfires in Tasmania last year, while the The Last Walk documents a seemingly innocent stroll in the woods by artist Stuart Brisley, which takes a decidedly macabre twist. The negative of this film was processed in a shed with buckets, and the rough image quality adds to the viewer’s discomfort. The three strands come together at Matt’s Gallery, London, 21st July.