Ur Place

April 24, 2008

search for a volunteer willing to die for art.

Filed under: Lifestyle — halfevil @ 11:34 am

PRIZE-winning German artist Gregor Schneider has caused an uproar by launching a search for a volunteer willing to die for art.

The enfant terrible of the German cultural scene is looking for someone whose dying hours will be spent in an art gallery with the public admiring the way the light plays on the flesh of a person gasping for the last breath. 

The 39-year-old artist has been concerned with death for much of his career. He gained critical acclaim for a sculpture, Hannelore Reuen, of a dead woman.

He has been hatching his latest idea since 1996, and now has a pathologist and art collector to help to find a candidate who wants to become a work of art in the final days of his or her life.

“The dying person would determine everything in advance, he would be the absolute centre of attention,” said Mr Schneider.

“Everything will be done in consultation with the relatives, and the public will watch the death in an appropriately private atmosphere.”

Death is commonly seen as the last taboo, although artists have been trying hard to demystify it.

Gunther von Hagens, nicknamed Doctor Death, has been travelling the world with an exhibition of plastinated corpses, showing genuine human bodies in living poses, playing chess or on horseback. The Wellcome Collection in London has an exhibition of portraits of people pictured before and after death by two German photographers.

The Schneider project, however, seems to have gone too far. It is being compared with watching executions in the US.

The influential gallery owner Beatrix Kalwa spoke for many German curators who rule out the idea of giving space to Schneider’s artistic endeavour.

“Existential matters like death, birth or the act of reproduction do not belong in a museum,” she said.

“There is a fundamental difference between portraying these acts in an art form, and showing them in actuality.”

The head of the German hospice foundation that provides care for the terminally ill, Eugen Brysch, said: “This is pure voyeurism and makes a mockery of those who are dying.”

But Schneider argues that death is already undignified and that his aim is to restore its grace.

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1 Comment »

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