David’s post about the display of dead bodies – whether animal or human – put me immediately in mind of a possible future exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery where a dead human body will be displayed.
Those of you who saw the 11 Rooms exhibition in July this year at Manchester Art Gallery (part of Manchester International Festival) will know that the Gallery hopes to present a work by John Baldessari called ‘Unrealised Proposal for Cadavre Piece, 1970’.
The Gallery intented to present this work as part of the 11 Rooms exhibition but; it was not possible to secure consent to display a corpse within the exhibition planning timeframe. So the Gallery presented the documentation of this process to demonstrate the effort that had been made to realise the concept in a sensitive and respectful way. The Gallery also stated its commitment to continue dialogue with the artist and to realise the work in the future.
Baldessari’s proposal is to present a corpse in the Gallery. The work will be presented in a way that recalls Andrea Mantegna’s painting The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1500, in the Brera Gallery, Milan, which is a very realistic representation of Christ. It also refers to a work that the French artist Marcel Duchamp constructed over 20 years; it is called Etant Donnés – and is a large wooden door with two peepholes: looking through the peepholes you see a naked body lying in a landscape.
In Baldessari’s work the body is seen through a viewing hole from the same perspective as the Mantegna and Duchamp works, from the feet upwards.