The Art & Charlie Blog

Contemporary art – What makes it special?

Contemporary art – What makes it special?

In this bone-chilling 5 artwork series that began in 2009, American artist Matthew Day Jackson makes us introspect life and beyond. The artist portrays funeral rites from different cultures on the occasion of his fantasized death. These self-portraits were born out of his conjectures about mortality when he was diagnosed with sclerosis, leading to him staging his death every year in the form of sculptures, paintings, and illustrations.

Throughout the series, which starts with the traditional setting of him in a casket, he wished to let go of unwanted personal traits and be reborn with every addition in the series. In this union of art, death, and fear, the artist wanted to be closer to himself and claims to continue the series until his actual death.

a) Me, Dead at 35

b) Me, Dead at 36

With his body in a sack or on a pyre on fire in the subsequent photographs, Jackson makes the spectator contemplate their own existence through his romanticization of death. As we move to the most visually horrifying piece of the series, where a skeleton is being picked clean by vultures, the discomfort felt by the viewer serves as a ceremony of his forged death.

c) Me, Dead at 37

d) Me, Dead at 38

To fight the claustrophobia, he experiences during his MRI procedures, he manifests his death 15 feet above the ground, covered in a childhood blanket as if experiencing his past, present and future at the same time.

The series was created as large format photographic prints and was displayed at an exhibition at Hauser and Wirth.

e) Me, Dead at 39


Send us a heart in comments below if this series gives you the chills!

*This is an ongoing series of deep analysis into iconic contemporary works to take you on a journey in discovering what makes it so special. With each post we hope to bring the wonder of this world to you in a way that helps you understand why a 5-year old could not have thought of it ;) We have been there ourselves till someone opened up this world for us and made us fall in love!*

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