I overheard the phrase on a science program and thought it might be good material for a comic, so I went ahead and typed ‘flesh eating beetle’ into google, held my breath and hit search. I’m not even remotely a realist in my art but that doesn’t mean I just make stuff entirely up. I like to have an understanding of what the real thing looks like in addition to what it does before I even doodle it for a potential comic. This meant I also had to click ‘image search’.
Looking at piles of insects eating a corpse really isn’t my idea of sexy or fun but I did gain some understanding of the little guys. I learned that dermestids are rather wonderful at getting rid of pesky rotting flesh and leaving behind a sparkly fresh skeleton. I also found out dermestids are used by forensics labs and museums to preserve bones due to their meticulous mad skillz in the flesh gobbling department and their tendency to be far less damaging than say chemicals. So I may end up with nightmares, but I learned stuffs and made a cute comic so it’s was worth it in the end.
Speaking of corpses and sort of keeping with the theme of cadaver art after last week’s Body Worlds / Gunther von Hagen post, it’s time to meet Joel Peter Witkin. Witkin is famous for his subversive, haunting, beautifully rendered photography which uses well thought out, sometimes elaborate and intricate set design and features subject matter such as physically deformed people, sideshow performers, sexual deviants, cadavers, body parts, decapitated heads, skeletons, fetuses, etc. He executes a lot of his work in Mexico because US law would not allow him to use or acquire such specimens for his art.
One can hardly mention Joel Peter Witkin without referencing the experience he attributes for greatly influencing his body of work. He says:
“It happened on a Sunday when my mother was escorting my twin brother and me down the steps of the tenement where we lived. We were going to church. While walking down the hallway to the entrance of the building, we heard an incredible crash mixed with screaming and cries for help. The accident involved three cars, all with families in them. Somehow, in the confusion, I was no longer holding my mother’s hand. At the place where I stood at the curb, I could see something rolling from one of the overturned cars. It stopped at the curb where I stood. It was the head of a little girl. I bent down to touch the face, to speak to it — but before I could touch it someone carried me away.”
Whatever the inspiration, I think Witkin’s work is powerful, emotive, disturbing, thought provoking and has a lot more value than the mere shock factor. I chose a few images to share with you guys. To be honest, some of his work can be difficult to take in and since you presumably come to my site for super happy fun stuff with a little darkness thrown in, I chose some of the less controversial images. I most definitely invite you to learn more about the artist and to view the large collection of his work on the Edelman Gallery website. There’s also a pretty cool article reviewing an exhibition and delving into the subject of death as art over on Subvert.com.
I think he’s pretty damn amazing. Keep in mind these are fine art photographs, some worked over with chemicals or scratched up for texture. These are not paintings or photoshop manipulations made to look like freaky impossible scenes. These are actual freaky impossible scenes, created and photographed by Joel Peter Witkin.
For a less intense, spooky cool place to visit, check out My Ghoul Friday, a great site to check daily for fun, spooky, sometimes crafty, sometimes silly, always delightful stuffs like Shrimpenstein and a most endearing bird skeleton and a section dedicated to making monsters! A big thanks to Ghoul Friday for recommending GingerDead last week to her readers.
Finally, for those who are curious my mom’s surgery went great. I wrote this haiku on twitter about it:
plucked from my mother’s garden
you will not be missed
The surgeon was really nice. She came out while my mom was in recovery to tell me how it went and obliged me when I asked for a copy of the magnified tumor pics. I meant to take a pic of the pic since I’m scanner-less but I forgot and it’s 4 minutes to midnight so I need to post this comic! Anyway, now she checks back every three months to see if it grows back in which case they cut it out again. Bleh. I put the tumor pics on the fridge to help remind her it might be a good idea to quit smoking. I can be a pain in the ass like that since I quit myself three weeks ago. Heh heh.
Have a great week my friends. Haiku your hearts out and post them here. Don’t be a skeerdy cat. I know some of you want to but think your haiku isn’t ‘good enough’. We’re not literary snobs here. We’re just having a little fun with words, so please don’t be shy.