For a number of years now, I’ve had the following photograph in mind.
I would first stage a photograph of someone – perhaps myself, perhaps someone else – lying on the floor of some domestic space, dead and killed by some violent means. Perhaps in a pool of blood…
Then, by taking a second photograph of the same person in the same space but in a different position and Photoshopping the two images together, I would create an image of the person contemplating his or her own death.
The final print would be large in scale.
Going back almost 30 years now, my work has looked at the strange, fraught, confused and contradictory relationship that we have with things connected with our physical existences – with the body in general, with sex, gender, and notions of normality. For me, the thing that has always seemed to be a the root of these issues is the difficulty we have wrapping our minds around how we can understand ourselves as thinking, conscious beings – as I’s – at the same time as we understand ourselves as physical things, as objects. We experience ourselves as physical things and we experience ourselves as I’s but it’s hard to understand ourselves as both at same time, to understand how those two things are one thing. In recent years almost everything I’ve been working on has to do with death. This probably has something to do with getting older myself, and having friends pass away, but it’s also deeply connected to what my work has always been about. Death is in everyone’s future yet it doesn’t seem that we are able to ever truly understand what it means. The conundrums that it represents may be the ultimate example of the problem of the relationship of subjecthood and objecthood that we all live every day.
We never get to see our own death. Seeing something is a way of trying to understand it. The piece I’d like to make is a simple way of trying to look at our own deaths, to picture trying to understand it.
For the commission, I’d want to talk with the collector about what sort of death might be interesting for him or her and where to stage it. Depending on the nature of the death, I might hire a make-up artist who works in the film industry to help set up the “corpse”.