death

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Art

Sorrowful Sculptures Designed in a Three-Part Collaboration Meditate on Life, Loss, and Regeneration

September 27, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In a limited edition of 12 new sculptures created in a unique three part collaboration, weeping women mourn a decomposing figure. The cast white figures, partially collapsed in a kneeling pose, embrace amorphous forms that ooze and drip. Countering the somber tone of each sculpture, colorful coral and mushroom-like shapes grow from the decomposition, uniting life and death and forging new growth from the loss.

To create this body of work, sculptor Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) partnered with illustrator Miles Johnston (previously) who conceptualized the base sculpture, and multi-disciplinary production facilitator MoonCrane Press who created the cast.

In a statement on the collaborative project, Kilgast explained that “I added life with my mushrooms, because, whatever happens, life always keeps going. Even if it’s just on a bacterial level. Another way of seeing this sculpture is to see the woman crying not over a human being but over the 6th mass extinction of nature that is currently happening.”

The series is sold out, but you can explore more of Kilgast, Johnston, and MoonCrane on their Instagram profiles.

 

 



Design

The Art of Japanese Funeral Floral Arrangements

October 3, 2018

Johnny Waldman

The farewell ceremony for actress Kirin Kiki took place on September 30, 2018 | Photo courtesy Sankei News

Last weekend, at the farewell ceremony for the late actress Kirin Kiki, a large display of white flowers, designed to look like a wave, greeted the constant flow of family members, fans and celebrities that had come to pay their respects, and to say farewell to the 75-year old who had passed away from cancer on September 15. The white wave of flowers was comprised of roughly 1200 chrysanthemums, orchids, and gypsophila (an ornamental flower known as baby’s-breath in the West).

Relatively speaking, the wave of flowers at Kiki’s farewell ceremony was actually quite modest, in accordance with her wishes for a simple gathering. Attempt to search the Internet for 生花祭壇 (seikasaidan, which literally means fresh flower altar) and you’ll see any number of extravagant designs.

The company Ito Sogi has a online catalog of funeral floral altars you can choose from

The wave motif itself is actually a common one in Japan, alongside the mountain. Both are typically used for men because they symbolize strength, but the rules of the old guard are starting to come down. Even chrysanthemums, which used to be the only accepted flower, are now joined by other white flowers, sometimes even colorful ones. But the alter of plentiful flowers is relatively recent, having originated in Kyoto just 30 years ago. This would make sense though because the technology and logistics involved in procuring large batches of fresh flowers is also relatively recent.

Diagram explaining the 6 stages of the chrysanthemum blossoms, from the book Nippon no Seikasaidan

A lot of money is spent on funeral flowers in Japan. In fact, in 2006 Beauty Kadan became the first publicly traded Japanese company specializing in funeral flowers when it listed itself on the Mother’s section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Youkaen, a general flower company that entered the funeral flower business in 1972 now says that roughly 75% of their 50 billion yen in sales (roughly $44 mm USD) comes from their funeral flower segment.

Over the summer, Haruichi Mimura, the founder of funeral flower company Sunvillage, published a massive 480 page book detailing the intricacies of seikasaidan. It’s an extensive look at the details involved in created fresh flower alters: everything from history and tools to the types of flowers and designs. It’s available from Pie Books and also Amazon. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 

 



Art

A Life-Size Graphite Skeleton that Vibrates to Draw Itself into Nothingness

November 1, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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All images by Luke Abiol

Unlike the human body which is composed of only 18% carbon, Agelio Batle‘s latest project is produced from 100% of the semimetal material. The work, titled Ash Dancer, is a life-size skeleton that acts like a very large pencil. When placed on a custom made high-frequency vibrating table, the bones of the skeleton rub marks onto the surface, slowly creating an outline of its own form. The more the work rubs against the table, the more of itself is left behind, slowly transforming the graphite from sculpture to abstract drawings which Batle refers to as Ash Dances.

The piece is a part the exhibition “murmer | tremble” at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco which opens November 5 and runs through December 29, 2016. You can see more work from Studio Batle on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

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History Illustration

Violent Rabbit Illustrations Found in the Margins of Medieval Manuscripts

May 31, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

BL Yates Thompson 8 f. 294r (via Sexy Codicology)

BL Yates Thompson 8 f. 294r (via Sexy Codicology)

The typical depiction of a rabbit, especially when used in Medieval art and literature, is an image of purity and innocence—a harmless puff of cuddly cuteness. Another common association with the rabbit is that of fertility, a sensical comparison when one is aware of the speed at which the species copulates. In some medieval illuminated manuscripts however, the illustration of a rabbit turns from harmless to violent, with several examples showcasing the formerly innocent creature in the act of decapitation and other sword-wielding wrongdoings.

A way to analyze these drolleries, or medieval margin illustrations, is to think about the violent role reversals as humorous symbolism. Because these animals were so low on the totem pole of fear, it was quite amusing to the medieval illustrator to draw them enacting a revenge—silly animals on the opposite side of the slaughtering. This was also a way for the artist to show the stupidity of the human who was the object of the rabbits’ anger, one who was foolish enough to be bludgeoned by bunny.

If all of this is hitting a little too close to Monty Python and the Holy Grail for you, read this comparison by Sexy Codicology between the historical illustrations and the film. Oh, and of course watch the killer bunny scene to see a modern day take on these vengeful rabbits. (via Jon Kaneko-James and Neatorama)

Images via Dangerous Minds

Images via Dangerous Minds

BL. Add. 49622 f. 149v. (via Sexy Codicology)

BL. Add. 49622 f. 149v. (via Sexy Codicology)

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Images via Dangerous Minds

Paris, Bibl. de la Sorbonne, ms. 0121, f. 023 (via Sexy Codicology)

Paris, Bibl. de la Sorbonne, ms. 0121, f. 023 (via Sexy Codicology)

 

 



Art

Flight of the Baji: A Pod of Suspended Driftwood Dolphin Skeletons Flies through the Baltimore Museum of Art

September 15, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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This immersive site-specific installation by artist Jonathan Latiano (previously) depicts the fate of China’s famous Baji dolphins rendered in driftwood flying through a gallery at the Baltimore Museum of Art. To create the immersive installation Latiano collected bleached and mangled wood from local rivers which he used to form a procession of skeletons. The bony structures materialize from a stack of logs in one corner before gradually dissolving back into component pieces in the other.

Freshwater Baji dolphins (dubbed the “Goddess of the Yangtze”) were once a thriving part of the Yangtze River ecosystem in China, but are now largely assumed to be extinct. The last known member of the species died in captivity back in 2002.

Latiano shares about his work via his artist statement:

The pieces that I create contrast abstracted human intuition with the reality of our natural environment. I strive to emphasize the areas that exist in‐between the boundaries of defined regions. My work, in many ways, is my own personal attempt to understand my place in the physical universe. I find the poeticism and concepts of the natural universe simultaneously fascinating, beautiful and unsettling. Many of the areas and theories of science that appeal to me, particularly ones that deal with vast expanses of space and time, are so complex that the only way I can truly wrap my head around them is to abstract them. It is through my artwork that I interpret, contemplate and fine-tune these scientific theories and notions on both a universal and personal level.

Flight of the Baji was on view last year at the Baltimore Museum of Art, a culmination of Latiano winning the 2013 Baker Artist Award. You can also catch an interview with him over on I Lobo You.

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Craft Design

Custom Glass Planets Containing the Cremated Remains of Loved Ones

March 30, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

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Merry Coor produces ethereal designs from cremated remains within custom glass beads. Coor crafts each bead by hand, first melting glass into a round bead, then spiraling the design out of ashes on top, and finally sealing the design with an outer layer of clear glass. For each bead she not only requests a 1/2 teaspoon of ashes, but also a picture, letter, or story of the deceased so she can develop a personal connection while forming the piece of jewelry.

Coor has been making glass beads for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year that she began incorporating ashes into their designs. After this development Coor explained, “My bead making now gave me a new purpose, and a way to honor others, both living and passed.”

Custom beads can be requested by the California-based artist either through her company’s website, Ash Beads, or through her Etsy. (via Laughing Squid, Bored Panda)

 

 



Art History

CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside

February 21, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Photo by M. Elsevier Stokmans; Boeddhamummie (Drents Museum)

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(MMC / Jan van Esch)

What looks like a traditional statue of Buddha dating back to the 11th or 12th century was recently revealed to be quite a bit more. A CT scan and endoscopy carried out by the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, showed the ancient reliquary fully encases the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. While it was known beforehand the remains of a person were inside, another startling discovery was made during the scan: where the organs had been removed prior to mummification, researches discovered rolls of paper scraps covered in Chinese writing.

The Liuquan mummy has since been transported to Hungary where it will be on view at the Hungarian Natural History Museum through May of 2015. (via Robs Webstek, Neatorama, Creators Project)

Update: Among some practicing Buddhists it’s been said that similar mummies “aren’t dead” but are instead in an advanced state of meditation. (thnx, Alan!)