Artist uses dead animals for exhibition
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.