Like all of my CreXpoCon experiences, this one, Cervid Requiem, began with a visual cue. However, this one was quite different. It began in controversy. One of my own making. But let me roll back the page a bit….
Mike Sepelak, a respected Facebook /Ofieldstream friend, posted a very interesting, haunting and a bit disturbing photo. He had been out to fish, in his kayak, on his local stream, when as he pushed out he noticed something in the water below. Inspecting with the aid of his underwater point-and-shoot camera, Mike discovered the decaying corpse of a doe (female) white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).
Mike’s post attracted several comments. One that drew me in was posted by a good friend, on Facebook /Ofieldstream, Australian artist-extraordinaire, Trevor Hawkins.
Trevor commented how the image would make a fine painting.
“WHAT!?!”, I thought upon reading this. I did not agree. Not out of repulsion, but more out of feelings for the topic. The ‘topic’, being the ‘display of death’. It can be done with respect to subject and viewer. But is most often not.
I have had lengthy discussions with another good Facebook /Ofieldstream friend, Gerry van der Waldt, co-owner/founder of WildEyeSA, a photographic safari company, operating out of Johannesburg, South Africa. Gerry’s clientele comes from all over the world. They contract WildEye for the purpose of taking photographs of wildlife and getting the full wildlife experience. Part of that experience is seeing – if you are so privileged – a kill … as it happens.
Gerry has told on his blog and podcast, The Wildlife Photographer Podcast, of many a client who cannot wait to see a ‘kill’ in process. But the moment it happens, they are disgusted; with many of them ending up angry with Gerry that he didn’t ‘do something’ to stop it.
Death is NOT pleasant. It is one of the three most constant elements of life on the planet. Nothing has escaped its claws, yet. So, it is fearful for many. Death – and the many ways it is possible – can be quite disgusting for most; repulsive to many. But there are some, who find it amusing, sensual, engaging, humorous, and other disturbing responses to… death and it’s morbid party.
Gerry has expressed his dislike for the growing prevalence of images on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, forums, and websites, showing gore, blood, death, and violence, taken out of the context of respect for subject and viewer… being hoisted in a perverted sense of gory-glory.
I agree with Gerry’s position… completely.
From this agreement position, my response, to Trevor’s comment was colored. I see death, gore, and violence, being elevated to an unnecessary level; in a near obscene way; and I replied with this in mind.
My position garnered an immediate response. One, NOT, in agreement with my position.
I was in the company of Friends. The disagreement was met with a helpful manner of questions on my position. Offering that I might possibly be judging too quickly. Maybe I should ‘try it’ before condemning it.
Trevor has my full confidence and respect. If he suggests I should take another look; opening my vision and taking on a contrasting viewpoint – then, I know, it will be worth doing just that. This kind of smooth transition without offensive confrontation only comes when people know and trust one another. Building good relationships is a good thing. A good environment in which to belong.
So… I took the photo Mike Sepelak posted and used it; since it was the point-of-focus of the debate. I created both the following eLITHOGRAPH, ‘Cervid Requiem’ and the accompanying poem of the same name.
I have learned a great deal in just a few hours time. You think after nearly 65 years of living that you’re over being ‘unfairly judgemental’, only to find you are still in need of making finer adjustments. And this is good. We should never get to the point we feel we have ‘arrived’. For then we have stopped; breathing, changing, living; becoming, mentally, emotionally, spiritually dead. And that is a death, to truly -NOT- be enjoyed.
‘Cervid Requiem’, an eLITHOGRAPH; 8″ x 14″; the digital-output is mixed media.
The accompanying poem, ‘Cervid Requiem’ is as follows:
Amid a water dark and deep
Off a shelf I seldom see,
A dark foreboding did I sense,
A Cervid carcass hanging,
Off a watery wall below.
Stored away, devoid of human sight
Amid the fishes lay the bleached remains.
Seeking nothing, lay quiet and pale,
The fur found flaking as falling leaves
Autumnal in the throws of death.
Above the water, a mere darkness did appear
But underneath clarity became harsh and near.
I could not help but capture the scene
With technology that somehow seems obscene,
A lurid invasion of the sanctity.
Observer or voyeur the question remains
Should it be left in quiet refrain?
The image captured is where I start
To see death less confined, foreboding
With a wider door and more as art.