SPINDLE (2011)

These fine filaments were vulnerable to moisture, but held surprising tenacity when elongated. I should have predicted the outcome, as this wrapping and spinning process is the exact action executed by many caterpillars when preparing for transformation into butterflies/moths. At first, the intention was to create a mummy. Instead, the result was a cocoon. One body was being wrapped to undergo its transformation and reconfiguration. This process was stopped or revealed when the wrapping was dissolved.

The spinning of the cocoon simultaneously implied a dressing for death, but also birth: wrapping for transformation. The body revealed through the dissolving was not quite the same as the one that previously existed, transformed through the fashioning, a new body was born; covered in a residue from its journey.”

“I sought to emphasise the face and hands in these shoots as these parts of the body are particularly important in communication and body language,[1] being considered especially expressive of the personality. Aside from the obvious use of fingerprints in identifying dead bodies, the face and hands are still key markers of identity. As evaluated by academic Jane Mowll, who finished a PhD regarding regret in viewing the dead, noted that “where the [facial] injuries were considered too great” families were still recommended to see the dead but instead “were advised just to see the hands of the deceased[2]”. Conversely when anatomy students undertake gross anatomy classes, the faces and hands of their cadavers are wrapped in gauze until “their dissection comes up on the syllabus. ‘So it’s not so intense,’ one student would later tell me. ‘Because that’s what you see of a person.’ [3]

-[A]Dressing Death: Fashioning Garments for the Grave

[1] Ray Birdwhistell, Kinesics and Context (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1970).

[2] Jane Mowll, “Transition to a New Reality: The Experience of Viewing or Not Viewing the Body of a Relative in the Contect of Grief after a Sudden and Unexpected Death” (PhD, University of New South Wales, 2011). P 56

[3] Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. P21