If death is one of the great mysteries, it seems somehow unfitting that I most often simply stumble upon it. Last week, along a river bank where I was exploring for cottonwoods, I came across the remains of a pronghorn (antelope) on the shelf of ice at the edge of the water. They are quite commonly seen in the fields around there, but this was the first I’ve seen dead. My eye did not recognize at first what it was seeing among the stones and the crow tracks.
Last fall I walked into the back yard one early morning and found the remains of a robin, most likely another of Quark’s victims.
There are stranger cases. Also last fall I came across a dead mountain lion in a room of a long-abandoned house I had started to photograph. It took a moment to realize what I was seeing.
Why do I make these photographs of dead things? Unlike a jeweler I just met, who makes curiously lovely things from roadkill she picks up, I don’t feel I’m turning misfortune to beauty. If I had to put words to it, I guess I’d say that these photographs are paying attention, paying respect. I’m recognizing some significance in the event. Is it egotistical to imagine that matters?
Has death, ordinary or otherwise, entered your art work in some way?