Death: Art's Final Taboo
Johnson, Andrew, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
While artists have always explored aspects of mortality, there has been a recent surge in exhibitions - from starving dogs to photographs of terminally ill people - that dare to examine the subject as never before. Andrew Johnson reports
It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before contemporary art's obsession with death led to its natural conclusion: an exhibit featuring the act of dying.
The German artist Gregor Schneider is looking for volunteers who are willing to die in an art gallery for his latest work, according to the Art Newspaper. And in Nicaragua, a Costa Rican artist has created a storm of hostility by apparently tying up a dog in a gallery and leaving it to starve to death as a work of art. Schneider, who is known for his macabre sculptures of dark, foreboding houses and bodies lying prone with plastic bags on their heads, and who has represented Germany at the Venice Biennale, said: "I want to display a person dying naturally in the piece or somebody who has just died. My aim is to show the beauty of death. I am confident we will find people to take part."
The modern public's appetite for real death can be seen in the runaway success of Gnther von Hagens's Body World's exhibition - in which real cadavers are preserved in varying states of dissection and which has been seen by 25 million people globally. It is currently showing in Manchester where it has already pulled in 100,000 visitors since February.
At the Wellcome Collection in London there is currently a moving display of portraits of ordinary people pictured before and after death by the German photographers Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta. …