Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

Obituary

Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

Obituary

Article excerpt

Obituary is a video work about the story of a dead woman found at Cam Loch, in Scotland. The newspaper description of her on discovery said she was found in the foetal position lying on the ground, some distance from her tent. This is a curiously visceral and material impression of her body. When I first read this, it drew my gaze to her cadaver as body on the ground, rather than as a missing person. In this more shocking form, it seems less of a scenic death than a death-scene investigation. A rambling tourist enjoying the scenery was the first to discover her body. His witness turned the place into a death scene. He went to seek help. A local gamekeeper then led police back there. They discovered her journal in the tent, the entry in the diary trailing off into empty pages. Then the story began to circulate, drawing the attention of journalists.

I first encountered her death scene as a short newspaper article. It fascinated me, and, through a process of speculation and confabulation, I made a fiction out of it and then a video work. Breakfast at the Beauty Spot was first published as a short story in a collection of fiction written by contemporary British artists.1 Here, the work is presented as a series of stills from the video. The video takes the conversation between the couple in the story and overlays it upon the empty landscape in which the death took place. The soundtrack is made up of the two voices of the airy low drone notes of the didgeridoo and bagpipes.

With camera in hand, I went to seek out the place where the woman had died and found a multiply empty place, criss-crossed with absences: the absence of a dead woman no longer there; the absence of the empty 'wilderness', which is constructed against human presence; the absence of a people from a landscape as a consequence of their annihilation from a territory and a wilful obscuring of their traces; the absence of the place of the corpse as it empties out place, and creates a 'nowhere'; and a reflection of our own absence we experience in witnessing these. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.