University of Tasmania
whole_AedyAlison2005_thesis.pdf (12.91 MB)

Shades of embodiment, unravelling the thread of life : an exploration of the sacred associated with death and dying in a historical and cultural context

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:28 authored by Aedy, A
There are numerous variations in the ways of dying, and dealing with death and grief. The sheer universality of the experience produces the knowledge that we are all deeply connected and begs to question and define human nature and the human condition, which is universal across all cultures. Embodied in ritual or religious ceremonies of all ethnic groups, certain objects and materials are believed to contain a form of presence and, through mythology, spiritualism and symbolism, become metaphors of death and life itself. The project Shades of Embodiment materialises through a series of forms used to signify the body. The body is used because it houses consciousness and is the piece left behind when we die. The concept that the 'sacred' and the body are embedded together is reflected in materials and rituals, created and used in concurrence with the body. This concept provides the framework of this study. Various cultural beliefs are interpreted through making and communicated through the sculptural work which transforms meaning into materiality as well as transforming materiality into meaning, through the use of binaries such as temporary and permanent, routine and ritual, natural to man made materials and, ultimately, life and death. A wide variety of materials have been explored including paper, wax, hessian, plastic, cotton and mud, as well as aluminium, lead, pressed tin and dust. Experienced together en masse each body figure is brought into a presence all its own. Together they become physical emblems of life itself, vessels for living. As objects, they are personal relics that resonate with the passage through daily life. The scale of these figures echoes human embodiment: they are life size. They are like us in order to speak of our tenuous connection and disconnection with the thread of life, and to conjure uncomfortable associations with Freud's 'uncanny.' The placement of these body figures and the connections they manifest is reminiscent of catacombs, Egyptian mummies and the figures of Pompeii. The gallery space becomes a space between life and death, a psychological, private space. It is hoped that viewers leave their fear at the door and transcend their own dark space between. Religious faith may be lost for some, and yet presence may be felt through daily life, the places where a higher force should be. The installation, Shades of Embodiment reflects on this missing element in human experience.


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Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD.)--University of Tasmania, 2005.

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