Thursday, 15 January 2009

Dead Man Photos

In 2004, after being amazed by the fancy ornate interior of the Royal Palace of Madrid, I hanged around Plaza de la Armería. It’s a sunny cold winter morning. The shadow casted on the façade of the Palace was so dark and heavy and then suddenly, a feeling of death came all over my body. I realised that during the scrambles of power, many people died for this Palace, for this empire and for this country. Probably just outside the Palace in this plaza, people killed each other in those battles. I asked my friend to take a photo of me playing dead to memorize this feeling of death.

4 years after in 2008, I went to Rome for a study trip. The feeling of death was back in this historic city. With the helps of my studio group-mates and our tutor Russell Light, a series of dead man photos was made. We even took a photo of group dead men.

During the process of producing these photos, the heavy feeling of death was substituted by a playful feeling. In an environment full of tourists, the action of playing dead appeared to be the same as the action of displacing the ‘V’ gesture in front of the camera. Also in the eyes of other tourists, playing dead was more related to those childhood role-play games in which children pretend to be soldiers/cowboys/pirates/etc killing each other. Therefore in Rome, it might be logical to pretend to be a gladiator and play dead. Playing dead became a show for the tourists and turned into a funny collective memory.

For more photos please check:

Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana) 2008 Taken by Ivan Cao Heng

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