Don't Stop Me Now - the body beyond death
Boo Saville Liam Ryan Joe Walsh Nick Reynolds James Page Oliver Chanarin Oliver Clegg Mario Consiglio Alixandra Fazzina C.A. Halpin Le Gun George Osodi David Birkin Marco Lanza Robert Gordon McHarg III Nina Mae Fowler Henry HudsonWed 28 May 2008 - Sat 19 Jul 2008
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The artists chosen here work with diverse interpretations of the physical, the spiritual, the artefact, and the ritual.
The artists chosen here work with diverse interpretations of the physical, the spiritual, the artefact, and the ritual.

For centuries artists have been preoccupied with the relationship between life and death, the body being the ultimate bridge uniting the two, it is the medium on which to hang their thoughts of mortality.
After death, the resistance to let go of the body completely, to sustain its connection with life, often leads to an exploration of its preservation. In a spiritual sense Liam Ryan"s triptych explores the phenomenon of sainthood, where a preserved body is a sign of holy intervention. Marco Lanza photographs the immaculately preserved mummified bodies in the crypts of Palermo Cathedral, entombed by the Cappuccini monks. The historical importance of death masks to preserve the unique identity of the body is particularly poignant in the work of Nick Reynolds, made to ensure the injustice of an executed death row prisoner is not forgotten. Even when the body is reduced to ashes, Luca Fusina"s collection of funeral urns can be chosen to reflect the individual personality of the deceased, from titanium steel to delicate Limoges porcelain. In an anthropological sense, the body becomes artefact and curious object of fascination. Boo Saville draws skulls and mummified corpses, and paints shrunken heads from the Natural History Museum. Meanwhile the artefact of a skull procured from a Witch Doctor remains surreally classified as an empty plinth, photographed by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, after the skull in question has been repatriated to its homeland.

The aesthetics of bones and skulls is also strangely beguiling - referring to the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic and Otranto Cathedral in Italy, where human bones have been used for centuries in a vast macabre decorative display. The latter of which has inspired the work of Mario Consiglio, who presents a concentric array of skulls and bones, but this time made from laser-cut wood and foam-rubber. The ceiling roses of James Page on closer inspection are adorned with delicate bone formations.

The skull"s symbolism has always been the strongest representation of memento mori, something to remind you of death in order to remember that you are mortal. The title of the show itself references the song sung by Freddie Mercury, who died from AIDS in the 1980s, which by the end of the decade had resurrected a preoccupation with skull symbolism appearing in many artists" work, especially in graffiti art. Those coming face to face with Robert Gordon McHarg III"s skulls on painted rocks will find the motif subverted with his trademark humour.

In fact death it seems is anything but a leveller, the fantasy funeral of Rudolf Valentino by Nina Fowler, an icon who had thousands file past his open casket, is a world away from the abandoned scene of Joe Walsh"s overdosed junkie, whose fate in the doorway will see many people walk by, but none to stop and acknowledge the passing of life before their eyes.

Amadorillo
Fastcast liquid plastic
2008

At Heart He Was Never A Big Fan of Their Grand Pretentions
Plasticine, scarf from the Crimea, DHL box, mirror, perspex
2008

Crypt 11, Palermo
74 x 93 cms
Print on aluminium
1998

Crypt 49, Palermo
74 x 93 cms
Print on aluminium
1998

Cut Out
52 x 65 cms
Biro on paper
2008

Death Rose
100 x 100 cms
Plaster on wood base
2007

Drawing 1
Ink on paper
2008

Drawing 2
Ink on paper
2008

Drawing 3
Ink on paper
2008

Drawing 4
Ink on paper
2008

Drawing 5
Ink on paper
2008

Drawing 6
Ink on paper
2008

Fig. 28 Plinth, Booth Museum, Brighton, UK
C print
2006

Form 1
59 x 84 cms
Transparency in lightbox diptych
2008

Form 2
59 x 84 cms
Transparency in lightbox diptych
2008

He Died Happy
Wooden box, paint, clay, coins, whisky, snail
2007

Heads
140 x 165 cms
Oil on gesso board
2007

Kidney
12 x 4 x 6 cms
Glass
2006

Ngoy Lunginye, Embalmed Body
30 x 20 cms
Silver gelatin print, signed
2006

Nigeria Beach
20 x 29 cms
C-type print

Project for a new arrangement of the relics of the Saints and Martyrs of Otranto Cathedral, Italy
162 x 184 cms
Wood, oil on lycra, foam rubber
1997

Shi
52 x 65 cms
Biro on paper
2008

Shrine of the Mighty! Can This Be, All That Now Remains of Thee?
70 x 95 cms
Oil on found board
2008

Skull
London rock and household gloss paint
2007

St Bernadette of Lourdes with a Skeleton in Ecstasy and St Mary's Appearance to the Dinosaurs 60 Million and 26 B.C.
120 x 90 cms
Oil on Board
2008

The Most Kissed Girl in the World
Graphite on paper Framed
2008

Untitled (Overdose)
43 x 63 cms
C print, framed
500

Valentino's Funeral - Casket
15 x 7 x 10 cms
Model for larger piece

Valentino's Funeral - model of room for larger piece
60 x 30 x 40 cms

Valentino's Funeral II
40 x 20 cms
Pencil on paper
2007

Valentino's Funeral VI
40 x 20 cms
Pencil on paper
2007

When They Are Silent, They Scream Out
94 x 144 cms
Wood carving on found cupboard door circa 1920, oak frame (glazed with interior lights)
2007