Designing a funeral or gravestone is a responsibility left for relatives or friends to be taken care of. Who decides which elements, such as the coffin - the flowers - the music - the prayers - the guests - the outfit - will represent the deceased, as they know him/her.
A portrait of the deceased is a less common part of the grieving process - often dead children, who didn?t live long enough to be captured in a portrait are subjects of post-mortem photography.
This idea of portrait, the question of timing, in modern life, hasn?t found it?s place. Ideally, the portrait would capture the moment of the high point of the life . How more valuable would it be to capture not only the high, but also the low, the average? Like the picture of Dorian Gray - the day when the painting was made he was the best version of himself, young, innocent and beautiful, and even if his looks would stay the same, his life would start to fall apart, day by day.
Imagining a situation of an unexpected death before ever achieving anything, before reaching that moment worth capturing - and before getting the portrait done.
Having a portrait done is accepting the truth that nothing is eternal - that you need an image to help remembering things, and to fake things, because eventually, all memories fade, even an image won?t bring back everything that it?s supposed to be communicating.
"A quite disturbing element of these Victorian post-mortem photographs is the fact that due to the slow process of taking pictures with early cameras, the living in photographs are slightly blurred whilst the dead ? who cannot move ? appears with crystal clarity. In some ways the dead seem more alive than the living ? certainly less ghostly."
1 person - self-portraits / portrayed by someone else
VIDEO portrait by Nick Knight
"That you make this distinction between designing for men and women is interesting because you?ve made it a point in the past, on several occasions, to identify yourself as bisexual. The self-portraits you?ve taken for your photography book, L?Ai-Je Bien Descendu? , include a double exposure of you urinating into your own mouth...
Let?s talk about your body in particular. You?ve made a full-scale, anatomically correct, wax statue of yourself, which now stands behind the cash register in your Paris store. Why did you do this?
It was meant originally as a personal exercise, and never for public display. In 2005, we had just bought our current house in Paris, which was a significant moment for me. I thought to myself, what does a man do when he reaches this point in his life? Traditionally, he?d commission a portrait to put over the mantel?a very lord-of-the-manor type thing. I wanted to do that, but instead of a portrait, I got a wax figure made. It?s also an exercise in vanity, as well as a creepy exercise in mortality?it infers that I?ve captured myself in a moment of glory, and everything after will be part of my decay. It?s poignant and tragic. Anyway, I got the mannequin made by a company in London that makes wax sculptures for museums and Madame Tussauds. It was sculpted, not made from a cast, so I had to go in for sittings for hours at a time. We took measurements with forceps, tons and tons of photographs, and from that, they came up with a rough bust?which was very realistic. It was an intense experience because the sculptor is touching your body, and touching the clay, and it becomes a very intimate relationship. The process was almost completely silent."
"milestones", mental/physical changes, rite of passage
Boris Mikhailov - The wedding
UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Bryan Lewis Saunders
"After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of self. So I came up with another experiment where everyday I took a different drug or intoxicant and drew myself under the influence. Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage that wasn't irreparable. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time and presently only take drugs that are prescribed to me by a doctor. "