Stunning weather to go and see some art at MONA today. But the art is all underground. And a lot of it is confronting, mind-bending and preoccupied with death. (Fantastic activity to do with the kids and a visiting aunt. Really!)
Then it’s a case of chase or be chased… by the chickens on the lawns outside that is.
Is it just the same with the human preoccupation with death? Is that why we make endless TV shows about it, read true crime trash, slow down to perve at the car wreck? Trying to catch death, somehow, so it can’t catch us…
This is the week of the year when fascination with death and dead people is socially sanctioned and indeed, celebrated in many parts. I’ve never done Halloween but I can understand the appeal. I’m interested in the leftovers of people who have gone before… the remains that can be seen in old photographs. Ghostly faces, frozen moments and smiles from long ago.
On the one hand I’m fascinated by the time distance between us and I wonder about the lives of the people who stare at me from old photos. On the other hand I marvel at our similarities across time. People don’t change so very much (check this out for a lovely example, and the smart alec in the centre photo, below).
If I were really interested in death and the chasing of it, I would travel to Manitou Springs, in Colorado USA, where yesterday the Emma Crawford Festival culminated in the 18th Annual Coffin Race and Parade. It’s part of a “spooktacular” calendar of events based around the creepy story of poor Emma’s remains being washed down the hill by stormy weather, 30 odd years after her death. The festival website features some suitably spooky photos of Emma Crawford herself.
Even if it’s true that each photograph captures a tiny piece of your soul forever, as some cultures supposedly believe, we should pose for as many as we can to leave a trace of ourselves behind. Because as sure as that cheeky chicken is going to steal some of your picnic lunch, death is going to catch up with us all sooner or later.