Taking reference from two Latin texts from the fifteenth century CE, this online exhibition looks into the phenomena of degeneration, death and decay, with a subversive, profane, and critical edge. The artists in this show, have their individual ways of interrogating the idea of death, their distinct oeuvres exploring the possibilities of grotesque morbidity, as well as eerie silence. At the same time, their works for this show, collectively address the deep global crisis of our contemporary present—where unfortunately death and demise have become commonplace.
However organic and natural death may seem to be, it is but a socio-political construct. The perception of death and mechanisms of coping with it, are rooted for some in religious faith, while for the others in the importance of the self and social interactions. What makes death further intriguing, is its inevitability, omnipresence and omnipotence.
Ars Moriendi, the religious text on Christian ‘Art of Dying’, was written in the aftermath of the recurrent bubonic plagues, as means of consolation. The manuscripts were illustrated with engravings, focusing on the death-bed. In the contemporary context, the sheer medieval faith is replaced with scientific temper and post-modern modes of intellectual enquiry. Profanation or desecration of the phenomena of death, surface as the strong undercurrent in this curated show, as artists probe the notion of death from various vantage points: personal, fictional, social, political, biological and even metaphysical.
The manuscripts of Ars Moriendi, being the first ones to be printed with the movable-type, were profusely circulated in the medieval world, triggering an artistic discourse on death. In today’s time, the digital format of online exhibition, likewise becomes a seminal electronic tool of dissemination of the pertinent macabre notions, which continue to plague us physically and psychologically.