Artistic cadavers - WTF ????

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by dealy663, Feb 5, 2003.

  1. Today while browsing through a photography magazine at the bookstore,
    I came across some very disturbing images someone had photographed of
    cadavers, and another of a primate monkey (chimp or ape) on a
    vivisectionist table. This has totally ruined my day and I'm wondering
    how do some people consider this type of thing Art?

    I am so totally disturbed now.... :-(
  2. I can't think of any ground to object to it... The photographer was there presumably after the fact; only as an observer. War photography is similar in a way. What good is a book like "Inferno"? Being very expensive and hence not widely seen, it fails the usefulness test. So is it right to publish a book about dead people?

    You can make art out of anything really. Whether it is "tastefully" done is another matter. Every viewer has to decide for himself. Obviously you did not like it.

    P.S. There is a particular web site that specializes in truly gruesome pictures but fortunately its name eludes me. Let it stay that way!
  3. Derek-- what magazine!?

    In answer to your question, they consider this type of thing art because it hangs in art galleries. Seriously. Don't make a distinction with art vs. non-art that you should be making with suitable-for-kids art vs. adults-only art or art that you like vs. art that you don't.
  4. I don't remember the magazine, sorry. Can't say that I'd be too interested in going back to find out. It really ruined my day. I was at Borders, I think it was a large format (magazine wise, not film wise) and had a light cover.

    For whatever reason war photagraphy seems totally different to me. It is more like a documentary on the horrors of life and death than art. Not that I sit around reading articles with people killed in war actions in my spare time though.

    I guess it was somewhat difficult for me because I so often view the photography magazines and feel in awe of so much beauty. Again, for whatever reason I can see both the beauty and troubled life in the migrant woman's face on the cover of Lens Work.
  5. Why should photography only depict beauty?

    'Inferno' is an emotional rollercoaster to browse through, but the strongest emotions I have experienced from a photo book in recent years were when looking at the "Without Sanctuary" book of lynching photographs. Deep, deep stuff.

    On the fine art front, there's always Joel-Peter Witkin. Phaidon have a 55 on him if you want cheap thrills, and zonezero have a couple of his portfolios online if you want your ugh's for free.

    Art isn't necessarily nice.
  6. The question is only half-jest. I guess you would need at least a release from some immediate family member.

    As for my opinion, I don't think I would have a problem with it, but I have not seen it. In fact, I love anything that challenges the viewer. In this case, the photographer is merely showing what goes on tens of thousands of times a day in the U.S., but behind closed and locked doors so that we don't expose our precious little children to those ugly, displeasing things. I don't want to go on a rant, but I feel that we, in our plasticized playstation world, often forget that people die, sometimes horribly, and we will all-too-soon cease to exist ourselves.

    To get back to photography: I like using the camera to capture life--joy, pain, sorrow, all of it, which is why I'm drawn to this forum (mountains and flowers don't have emotions and just don't hold much interest for me anymore). It may sound paradoxical, but death is a part of life.
  7. Some people get their jollies looking at all sorts of disgusting stuff and attempt to hide their nature by claiming they are Artists or more sophisticated than we commoners. What a load of crap. 95% of bondage photos in the “fine art” section of the Critique Forum are simply degrading to women with no message or insight. Perhaps they are useful to some people as masturbatory material. That is fine by me, but don’t try to BS us that they are making some sort of social statement or thoughtful expression. What is the artistic intent or message that I should be getting from some tied up silicone breasted stripper or Witkins’ work.

    Serious work has a deeper meaning and is completely different than the pandering by Witkins, most of the bondage photographers, etc. Although intensely disturbing, work such as 'Inferno' and "Without Sanctuary" can motivate, teach, help us develop empathy, etc.

    The diatribe above is not meant to imply that bondage / dead people / macabre photos shouldn’t exist or be a part of Censorship sucks, but let us be truthful about these genre.
  8. For me, the people who took, sold and bought as souvenirs the photographs in "Without Sanctuary" are far more worrying than Witkin and his grotesques. That's the power of the book. Witkin might disgust, but the actual harm done is all in the mind.
  9. Some people are drawn to the darker things in life. Some people take care to avoid those things in case their day gets ruined. C'est la vie.
  10. Why can't you see beauty in a cadaver? It represents a life as well as death, and even decomposition leads to new life. An autopsy or disection gives the opportunity to see the amazing ways we are all put together.

    Disgust of death is really just a mask for fear of our own mortality - something which our culture is obsessed with.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The history of art - going back thousands of years - records that people have always had an interest in the grotesque. This isn't some new fascination that popped up with photography, it's human nature.

    If you don't like it, don't look at it.
  12. website the second poster mentioned which displays pictures of particularly gruesome and off the wall stuff is Warning, some of its contents are extermely disturbing.
  13. I think i saw that magazine too, though the name escapes me as well.
    i too found it disturbing but that does not make it any less art, the macrabe can still be seen as beautiful. After all some horror movies are even worse and they are still entertainment, and thats all the pictures were the photographic equivelent of a horror movie. we are all so shock because the realm of the macrabe is so rarely explored in non-documentary photography were aren't desensitized as we are to horro movies and novels.
    the pictures may have been disturbing but from a purely artfull viewpoint they were executed (no pun intended) with such mastery and strong impact i couldn't put the magazine down until i had seen all the images even though i found many to truly be revolting.
    as with manythings in art we must look beyond the surface and see the inner meaning, in this case a glimpse into the mortality that we all share.
  14. Death is natural, but I would find a photo of ANY animal on a vivisectionist's table terribly disturbing. The only purpose of such a photo, in my view, would be to bring the horrors of vivisection to the public eye, & perhaps motivate them to do something about it.

    I assume this is what the photographer intended.

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