Artist uses dead an­i­mals for ex­hi­bi­tion

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

An­i­mal car­casses may ap­pear bleak but Re­becca Swan sees the beauty in them.

The Auck­land artist and pho­tog­ra­pher has launched The Exquisite Wound, a vis­ual ex­hi­bi­tion be­ing held in Silo 6 at Wyn­yard Quar­ter.

For the in­stal­la­tion she has col­lab­o­rated with com­poser Char­lie Ha, en­gi­neer Peter Swan, light artist Peter Stone­ham and sci­en­tist David Shilling­ton in a gallery that ex­plores the na­ture of ex­is­tence.

It con­tains a se­ries of 20 pho­to­graphs of dead an­i­mals along with pro­jec­tions, orig­i­nal mu­sic and videos that ex­press how hu­mans re­late to our phys­i­cal bod­ies.

The im­ages shot by Swan con­tain dead an­i­mals such as birds and rats that were col­lected by her­self and her gard­ner friends over two years.

She said while de­ceased an­i­mals may ap­pear mor­bid to some, they ex­press a range of metaphors that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily grim.

‘‘Peo­ple don’t ap­ply the same sort of per­sonal fil­ters to an­i­mals as they do to peo­ple, there’s some­thing about an­i­mals that feels very ac­ces­si­ble,’’ Swan said.

Peo­ple nat­u­rally had an ‘‘affin­ity’’ to an­i­mals, she said.

‘‘Even though they are dead they have an alive­ness to them, they don’t look grue­somely dead.’’

Swan said she had a par­tic­u­lar re­la­tion­ship to death as she was di­ag­nosed with can­cer at 23 years old.

De­spite re­cov­er­ing af­ter two years, deal­ing with mor­tal­ity at such a young age had given her a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life and death.

‘‘That ex­pe­ri­ence cer­tainly is a huge part of who I am to­day.

‘‘So I re­ally value life, it gave me a real sense of who am I, what I’m do­ing here and mak­ing life count from then on re­ally.’’

Swan, now in her 40s, said so­ci­ety was death pho­bic.

‘‘Peo­ple im­me­di­ately put it in the neg­a­tive but death is just an­other part of life, it’s just an­other phase if you like.’’

‘‘I have al­ways been cu­ri­ous about what we are be­yond our bod­ies.’’

Since 1990 Swan has had work fea­tured in gal­leries through­out the world in­clud­ing Spain and China.

When di­ag­nosed with can­cer she doc­u­mented her jour­ney with pho­to­graphs she took of her­self. They went on to be pro­duced as a book and ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled The Big C. The ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til March 26.

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