Magnificent Corpses (2007)
For many years my art practice has placed an emphasis on the exploration of various narrative structures (autobiographical, historical, literary) and their conventions (museology, popular fiction). Through a variety of art projects involving both private and public spaces I have created and documented a series of interventions that explore the complexities of human interaction that occur around me and my practice.
Some years ago, I read Sarah Vowel’s “Assassination Vacation,” a chronicle of the authors obsessive interest in American History and her personal research visiting historical sites and experts that preserve the evidence associated with the assassination of a series of American Presidents. In it, I came across a quote concerning the practice of pilgrimage, which piqued my interest, having been raised in the Catholic faith. The quote was from a 1999 book entitled, Magnificent Corpses : Searching Through Europe for St. Peter's Head, St. Chiara's Heart, St. Stephen's Hand, and Other Saints' Relics, by Anneli Rufus.
Upon borrowing this book from the Ottawa Public Library I found that a previous reader had written copious notes in the margins throughout. At first I tried to ignore this unwelcomed parallel narrative, but in the end the notes were too abundant and proved to be quite compelling in and of themselves. The penciled-in running commentary generates a portrait of a woman, who while demonstrating an intense religious devotion, simultaneously reveals a rather ironic abhorrence for the author.
The Magnificent Corpses print set is a continuation of my ongoing interest in the conventions used in the transmission of sanctioned information (the dominant narrative) and the possibility for subversion (the counter narrative) within those conventions. By documenting and disseminating this reader’s resistant commentary to the ideas set forth in the book, I am essentially preserving her words and giving them voice, something that her ephemeral (pencil on paper) yet insistant inscriptions both belie and insist upon.
The Magnificent Corpses print set is an extension of my marked interest in social space. I photographed all page sets that had been marked in pencil. 35 images—all actual size—are arranged in a loose grid fashion on three panels.
Printed on Epson Lustre paper
Mounted on (aluminum) Dibond
(117 x 104 cm.) x 3 panels = 117 x 312 cm.
Front and back covers
Pages 4 and 5
Pages 6 and 7
Pages 132 and 133
Detail, page 61
Detail, page 228