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October 24-27, 2012, University of Houston, M.D. Anderson Library


Abstracts of Papers Read

at the

Art of Death and Dying Symposium

24-27 October, 2012 University of Houston Libraries Houston, TX

Art of Death and Dying Symposium 2012

Organizing Committee Katie Buehner, Coordinator of the Music Library Kerry Creelman, Coordinator of Undergraduate Instruction Catherine Essinger, Coordinator of the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library Andrea Malone, Modern and Classical Languages Librarian Special Thanks to: Dana C. Rooks, Dean of Libraries Marilyn Myers, Associate Dean for Public Services Carolyn Meanley, Library Development Coordinator Derral Parkin, Head of Branch Services Mark Cooper, Library Business Administrator Chris Conway, William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library Supervisor Sally Munz, translator Sponsoring Partners Blaffer Art Museum Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Department of Hispanic Studies, University of Houston Honors College, University of Houston National Museum of Funeral History Preservation Houston


2 Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion


Thursday, October 25

Classroom 10-F

Classroom 10-G

Conference Registration - Second Floor, M.D. Anderson Library


Continental Breakfast


Opening Remarks & Keynote Address

Deathcare Jill H. Casid University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


The Importance of Place in Burial and Commemoration

Ritual Space Donna Kacmar University of Houston, Texas, USA

Recording the Corpse

Thanatopsis: Seeing Death with Postmortem Photographs Margot Note World Monuments Fund, New York, USA Postmortem Racism and Contested Ways of Seeing Death and Photography in the 19th and early 20th century Chelsey Patterson University of Texas at San Antonio, USA Mere Flesh: How Corpses Mean and Matter Margaret Schwartz Fordham University, New York, USA

Defining Death
All Things Must Pass: the Dying Object in the 20th century Hanna C. Baro Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz / Max Planck International Research Network on Aging, Italy Death and Musical Otherness: Metamorphoses of a Musical Motif in Antonin Dvoraks Requiem, op. 89 Wolfgang Marx University College, Dublin, Ireland Sacrifice Sucks: Death and Dying Among the Moch of Pre-Columbian Peru Chelsea Dacus Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA

Sodoma (1477-1549) and the Sienese tradition of Painted Biers Martha Kondziella University of Freiburg, Germany Fields of Remains Jason Sowell University of Texas at Austin, USA



Thursday, October 25

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

Cultural Responses to Death
Mata Aroha: from Preserved Head to Baronial Portraits, Re-presentations of the Ancestral Image in Maori Mourning Ritual Ngahuia Te Awekotuku University of Waikato, New Zealand Themes of Death and Dying through the eyes of Pre-Columbian Peruvian Art Rick OLoughlin University of Houston, Texas, USA Mourning Socially Sanctioned Rituals that Mark the Difference between Cultures Maria E. Perez University of Houston, Texas, USA

Tours around Houston

Tour of the National Museum of Funeral History

The National Museum of Funeral History houses the countrys largest collection of funeral service artifacts and features renowned exhibits on one of mans oldest cultural customs. Discover the mourning rituals of ancient civilizations, see up-close the authentic items used in the funerals of U.S. presidents and popes, and explore the rich heritage of the industry which cares for the dead.


Tour of Houstons Historic Cemeteries

This bus tour will include visits to three historic cemeteries: Glenwood Cemetery, a 19th century garden cemetery founded in 1871 and the resting place of Howard Hughes, four Texas governors, and the final President of the Republic of Texas, and Olivewood Cemetery, the citys first incorporated African American cemetery.

Tour of the Menil Collection

The Menil Collection houses more than 15,000 works, including particularly strong collections of tribal, Surrealist, pop and contemporary art. Among the works that may be included on this tour are Andy Warhols Electric Chair, tribal death and ceremonial masks, and the paintings of Yves Klein, Mark Rothko or the Surrealists. The Rothko Chapel (completed shortly after the suicide of Mark Rothko) and Barnett Newmans Broken Obelisk sculpture (memorializing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) are adjacent to the Menils main building.

4 Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

Death personified in Mexico and border culture
Death Incarnate: Personifying death in Mexico Salvador Olgun New York University, USA Representations of Death in Mexico: La Santa Muerte Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba University of Texas at San Antonio, USA Conversations with Death Beatriz Guzman Velasquez University of Texas Pan-American, USA This paper will include an exhibit of paintings by Texas artist Beatriz Guzman Velasquez titled Conversations with Death curated by Chris Conway.

Thursday, October 25

Tours around Houston

Tour of the National Museum of Funeral History, cont.

Tour of Houstons Historic Cemeteries, cont.

Tour of the Menil Collection, cont.


The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed: An Artists Talk with Dario Robleto Dudley Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building, University of Houston

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts presents visionary Texas-based sculptural artist Dario Robleto, who will investigate the connection between creativity and loss. Part artist talk, part performance, Robleto uses storytelling, along with his vast collection of rarely seen sounds and images, to address the question What does one do when they realize their lifes work might be unattainable or impossible? Moving back and forth in time over centuries of human history, Robleto touches on war, the Blues, extinct languages, and problems of interpretation across humans and possible life on other planets. He will also draw upon his recent fellowship at Smithsonians Museum of American History in Washington D.C. to discuss the Voyager space probe launched in the 70s as a key example.

Friday, October 25 Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion Classroom 10-F Classroom 10-G

Conference Registration - Second Floor, M.D. Anderson Library


Continental Breakfast


The cemetery as metaphor for identity

Form and Reform: John Strang, J.C. Loudon, and the Functional Landscape of the Cemetery Sarah Hoglund Boise State University, Idaho, USA Amongst the Dead in La Celestina Brys Stafford University of Toronto, Canada The Nation as Cemetery in Myrlande Constants Bawon and Brijit Weep Katherine Smith New York University, USA

Women in mourning
Representing Grief: Visual Images, Gender, and Mourning Ritual in Gothic Tuscany Judith B. Steinhoff University of Houston, Texas, USA Gender and Trauma: Feminization of War in late Victorian Painting Amanda Waterman University of Washington, USA Mourning at the Piano: Marguerite Long, Maurice Ravel, and the Performance of Grief in Interwar France Jillian Rogers University of California at Los Angeles, USA

The face of death


The Dead in Wax: Funeral Ceroplastics in the European 17th-18th century tradition Roberta Ballestriero The Open University in the North West, Manchester, UK Facing Mortality: Representing the Transformation from Life to Death in ancient Costa Rican Funerary Masks Elisa C. Mandell California State University, USA Familia in Eternam: the Intimate Legacy of the Etruscan Couple in the Family Tomb Virginia M. Curry Southern Methodist University, Texas, USA

Friday, October 25

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

Experiencing loss in art and architecture

Classroom 10-F
Death and the fantastic
Death as Confrontational and Embracing Symbolism Herbert R. Hartel John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, USA Materializing Spirits and Re-membering the Dead in Fin-de-sicle Ectoplasm Photography Lucy Traverse University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA What Vampires Tell Us About Death Mary Y. Hallab University of Central Missouri, USA

Classroom 10-G
The National Museum of Funeral History presents
Jazz Music and the Second Line: Transition from Life to the Afterlife in New Orleans Funeral Processions Shelley Ott National Museum of Funeral History, Houston, Texas, USA This presentation will explore the historical and cultural origins of the New Orleans jazz funeral in the traditions of native African slave culture and its evolution in the wake of the jazz movement of the early twentieth century.

Two Face(t)s of Modernism: the Funerary Chapels of the Resurrection at Turku Cemetery in Finland Nora Laos University of Houston, Texas, USA From Private Places to Public Spaces: Mourning and Death in the Art of Four 21st century Women Artists Kathryn Beattie Independent Researcher, Montreal, Canada Diane Victor: Ashes to Ashes Pamela Allara African Studies Center Boston University, Massachusetts, USA

12:30PM 2:00PM


The virtuous prepare for death

The Good Death in the Heures de Rohan Megan Reddicks Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA

Representations of death
Lleg la sangre al ro: la muerte y el Magdalena el la literatura colombiana contempornea Ana Mara Mutis Independent Scholar, Colombia Death as a Representation of life in the narrative of Gabriel Garca Mrquez Cecilia Marrugo-Puello Tarleton State University, Texas, USA Looking Dead Sexy: Gender Constructs, Photography, and Death Camillo Hernndez Castellanos Northwestern University, Illinois, USA
*this panel will be presented in Spanish

Christian responses to death

Visions of Death and Expectations of Life among Eastern Christian Ascetics Jonathan L. Zecher University of Houston, Texas, USA Dancing Antichrist: Christianity as Death in the Work of Peter Maxwell Davies Majel Connery University of Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Common Picture: Rembrandt Peales The Court of Death in 19th century America Susannah Maurer University of Pennsylvania, USA

Friday, October 25

Blaffer Art Museum

A Screening of Isaac Juliens Looking for Langston
(1989, 40 minutes) Amy Powell Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, Texas, USA

Honors Commons

Classroom 10-F

The Blaffer Art Museum presents

A Gallery Talk Claudia Schmuckli Director, Blaffer Art Museum University of Houston, Texas, USA This gallery talk will discuss themes of death and mortality in the work of American sculptor Tony Feher, whose survey exhibition will be on view at Blaffer October 13, 2012 March 17, 2013.

The Honors College presents

O Tod, wie bitter bist du: a lecture recital Composers of vocal writings rely on the fusion of text and music to provide a meaning to their composition. Johannes Brahms was no stranger to this idea. Within the final year of his life, he selected Biblical texts as the foundation of his Vier Ernste Gesange, op. 121 no.3, and formed his own interpretation of death and dying. Bass-Baritone Jeremy Blackwood, Assistant Professor of Voice at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, will lecture on the text setting and Brahms music treatment. He will be accompanied by pianist Brandon Pafford.

Myth and mysticism*


Dying Antigone: the one que no se suicid Pedro Gutierrez University of Houston, Texas, USA Death Patrol for Juan Robreo del Sauz: Death in Juan Robreo de Sauz Crossing from Illegitimacy to Nobility Maria Chavez University of Houston, Texas, USA The Sleepwalkers: Visions of Death in the Guaz War through Cndido Lopez Visual Narrative Sebastin J. Daz-Duhalde Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA
*this panel will be presented in Spanish

8 Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion


Saturday, October 25

Classroom 10-F

Classroom 10-G

Conference Registration - Second Floor, M.D. Anderson Library


Continental Breakfast


The body as medium

Artistic explorations of dying

Afterimage and Afterlife: Derek Jarmans Blue Eric M. Stryker Southern Methodist University, Texas, USA Todestrieb in Tristan und Isolde: the Drive for Death and Sex Susan de Ghiz University of Texas at Brownsville, USA The Nature of Death and Memory in the Jahangir-nama Cheryl Ann Palyu University of North Texas, USA

The National Museum of Funeral History presents

Death through Art Genevieve G. Keeney President and COO National Museum of Funeral History, Houston, Texas, USA This presentation examines the symbolism, mediums, and subject matters through which grief, death, and bereavement are expressed. Subjects will include hair art, postmortem photography, floral art and wreaths, and symbolism such as the urn, the weeping willow, and the drape, and how all these materials translate the message of what was.

Objects of immortality: Hairwork and Mourning in Victorian Visual Culture Rachel Harmeyer University of Houston, Texas, USA On the use of Human Remains in Tibetan Buddhist Rituals Ayesha Fuentes University of California at Los Angeles, USA Redefining the Mexican Tradition of Death: Teresa Margolles and the Embodiment of Absence Monica Salazar University of Texas at Dallas, USA


Resurrection and rebirth in Latin American arts

Capturing the time of death

The Way She Looked the Day She Died: Vernacular Photography, Memory, and Death Amanda H. Brown University of Colorado at Boulder, USA The Instant of Death: Jusepe de Ribera and the New Baroque Temporality Itay Sapir, Universit du Qubec Montral (UQAM), Canada Animating Death Olivia Banner Rice University, Texas, USA

The passing of an era

Harmony and Hybridity: Idealized Visions of the Afterlife in Murals from Fenghuangshan, Inner Mongolia Leslie V. Wallace Hood College, Maryland, USA The Poetics of Memory in PostPinochet Chile Esmeralda Salinas University of Essex, UK

Sacrificing the Sun in New Spain Lauren Grace Kilroy Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA Death and Resurrection in the Art of Remedios Varo Mey-Yen Moriuchi Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, USA

Saturday, October 25

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

The Day of the Dead Ward Albro Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, USA


Keynote Address

Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center presents

a tale of love, war, and anchovies by Daniel Catn

October 26, 27, 29, 2012 at 7:30PM October 28, 2012 at 2PM A banana republic declares war on the Nazis and newlywed salsa musicians are caught in the crossfire. Love is put to the test in this bittersweet comedy that sways to the sultry rhythms of the Caribbean.

Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a colorful and religious celebration which takes place in Meso-American cultures from October 31 (Halloween) through November 2 (All Souls Day). It is during this festive time that the dead are believed to return to visit the living. This exhibit explores the customs and traditions of Dias de los Muertos with full-scale models of a Mexican home and graveyard as they would typically appear on this day. Inside the home is a collection of items commonly used to celebrate, including ofrendas (memory tables or altars) made and decorated by local artists with photos, candles, flowers, breads and other memorial objects.

Day of the Dead Exhibit

October 31-November 2, 2012
For more information, visit:



Thursday morning


Opening Keynote Address DEATHCARE Jill H. Casid University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA We live in a moment of profound and compounded precarity, in which social infrastructural support for so many kinds of carefrom the established but threatened Welfare system and health care (criticized as Obamacare), to what one might call agecare, educationcare, and general lifecare (which has never been assured for most of the globe)are threatened by increasing global wealth imbalances. At such a moment in which public support for care cannot, in any way, be assumed to have general social value, this lecture thinks with contemporary art and performance practice to refocus our attention on the particulars of affective labor that are the (im)material support of care. Such close attention, I will develop, affords a means to affectively and imaginatively try out the possibilities for a good death, one in which death is enacted as something other and more than the negative end of life or cessation of pain. Such engagement with the imaginative as if work of contemporary art and performance promises not just to bring us close to the ob-scene of care for death but also to suggest props that might enable us to better enact care for death. In staging what I call intimate distance, this lecture reframes the question of deathcare to propose a new mode of ethical engagement that holds open a critical space for recognizing precious differences that may help us move beyond the limits of what is considered livable life and grievable death in order to imagine and even enact other scenes of care: affective and material care for something like the good death, the death for which grief is not the only mode of recognition.

Jill H. Casid is Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she founded and directed the Center for Visual Cultures. A historian, theorist, and practicing artist, her contributions to the transdisciplinary field of visual studies include Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2004) and her forthcoming book Shadows of Enlightenment, both with the University of Minnesota Press. She is currently at work on several new book projects: The Volatile Image: Other Histories of Photography, Forms-of-Life: Bioethics and Aesthetics, and, with Aruna DSouza, The Exploded Global: Art Historys New Terrains for the Clark Series at Yale University Press.


Thursday morning The importance of place in burial and commemoration Sarah Kielt Costello (University of Houston), moderator RITUAL SPACE Donna Kacmar University of Houston, Texas, USA


There is a need within man for ritual and meaning. Ritual and myth translates meaninglessness into meaningful order. It provides an authoritative account of man and the physical, social and spiritual realms of his existence. Even in contemporary urban areas we need places for ritual. Urban dwellers need to be reminded of the ceremony and the physical quality of life, and find a place to reconnect to time, to earth, to the heavens, to life. This paper explores the specific ritual of death and the architecture that supports them, the beauty of life and the paradox that mans life is finite yet still part of an infinite continuum. Death rituals can be both singular and temporal. Burial traditions on the Venice island of San Michele are temporary and typically only involve a ten year stay on the island before being moved to a permanent home on the mainland. Burials in Cuba are also temporary and bodies are reburied after just two years when remains are transferred to a smaller container due to the limited space. These interruptions require a specific landscape and architecture to support the various rituals and ceremonies. The private burial landscape of the Brion Tomb and the city cemetery of Cortona, Italy offer two examples of singular and permanent burial rituals.

SODOMA (1477-1549) AND THE SIENESE TRADITION OF PAINTED BIERS Martha Kondziella University of Freiburg, Germany
In many collections of Italian painting there is at least one devotional picture by a Sienese artist that once was part of ceremonial furniture related to death and dying. This semicircular panel often represents the Virgin and child, the dead Christ supported by angels or a single saint. Today hung up on a gallerys wall, it was originally created as headboard of a bier on which the deceased were borne to the grave. The tradition to decorate biers with paintings is to be found from the 15th to the 19th century throughout Europe only in the Tuscan city of Siena and its territory. Painted biers, so-called cataletti, were ordered by religious confraternities who were devoted to the seventh work of mercy, that is burying the dead. In order to demonstrate the financial power and intellectual competence of the clients, the cataletti were often replaced with new ones according to the prevailing taste and particularly in the 16th century became prestigious and well-paid commissions, mainly done by prominent artists. In the scientific literature of art history, these artefacts have only been seen and interpreted as conventional paintings without considering their original function as important objects within the funeral ceremony. Based on observations on twelve cataletti-paintings done by Sodoma (1477- 1549), the leading painter in early 16th century Siena, which firmly take into consideration their former purpose, new findings on the specific Sienese tradition of painted biers shall be brought up to discussion on the occasion of this interdisciplinary symposium.


Thursday morning FIELDS OF REMAINS Jason Sowell University of Texas at Austin, USA


Nature and culture have at least this much in common: both compel the living to serve the interests of the unborn. - Robert Pogue Harrison
Burial practices distinguish humans from almost all other species. The customs and techniques tied to this process have produced buildings and landscapes that inscribe the transformation of body and memory into the citys ecological and cultural systems. As city form has shifted, the interface between the living and the dead has provoked significant changes in the planning and organization of the very spaces that house the deceased, most significantly the transformation of the cemetery from a working or recreational landscape to todays expansive industrialized lawn. This modern conception of the cemetery as a homogeneous memorial garden has led to the development of cemeteries as isolated parcels divorced from the very populations they represent, and proliferated a set of burial practices that are expensive, pollute groundwater, and detach human remains from nutrient cycles. The potential negative environmental impact of contemporary burial practices is likely to worsen. By 2030 the Texas Triangle, one of eleven megaregions within the United States, is projected to double in population. Much of the dialogue surrounding such growth centers on the capacity of cities to accommodate the physical and economic resources required by more people. Less discussed, however, is the impact that population increase will impose on cities once people die. Particularly in central Texas, population increase is coupled with a corresponding decrease in available cemetery space. Addressing these factors, this talk will utilize a series of speculative landscape projects to reframe the cemetery from industrial lawn to a productive, public landscape. Specifically, the projects suggest burial practices that unite human remains with the nutrient cycle, retain customs related to ceremony and memory, and reprogram aggregate mines or wildfire devastated lands as new burial grounds.

Recording the corpse William Monroe (University of Houston), moderator THANATOPSIS: SEEING DEATH WITH POSTMORTEM PHOTOGRAPHS Margot Note World Monuments Fund, New York, USA
Barthes termed photography flat death; Sontag called it soft death; Derrida deemed it the art of ghosts, a battle of phantoms. From its inception, photography has embraced death, as it embalms forever what it has captured momentarily. No better period was this exemplified than in the Victorian era, when bereavement became an art in itself. Postmortem photographs of the deceased by themselves or with family members became a universal practice. As a nascent technology in an era of high mortality rates, photography provided an emotionally satisfying means to secure the shadow, ere the substance fade, as the popular slogan for photographic studios read. Taking its title from William Cullen Bryants famous poem, from the Greek words thanatos (death) and opsis (sight), this paper explores how a twenty-first century audience sees death with memorial photography. Through blogs, Tumblr posts, and Twitter feeds and an escalation of eBay auctions and Etsy sales, nineteenth century postmortem photographs have become a macabre spectacle not only because of their morbidity and beauty, but also because of a modern fascination with elaborate mourning customs no longer practiced today.


Thursday morning


As carriers of the past, postmortem photographs fascinate viewers because they represent the authentic in an ever more mediated environment and retain the aesthetic of the physical photograph in a world of born-digital media. Delving deeper into this pictorial practice, one discovers that remembrance photographys alliance with the Victorians overlooks its occurrence in tandem with the establishment of photography around the world. More importantly, postmortem photographys association with a specific period undervalues the extent in which this genre persists in contemporary visual culture. Rather than a past phenomenon, the pictorial representation of death lives on in the present as the grief-stricken continue to use photography to mitigate mortality.

Scopic regimes, or ways of seeing through different time periods, cultures, and locations, play a pivotal role in how different subject positions are viewed through dominant ideologies. Working within the framework of visual culture, this presentation focuses on viewing practices of the postmortem black body during the nineteenth and early twentieth century within the United States. Specifically, I focus on Cartesian Perspectivalism and its direct correlation to racial science and its abjection of the black body, resulting in the proliferation of postmortem racism. Postmortem racism, an aspect of postmortem abjection, is defined as the nonagentic postmortem use and/or display of bodies of color. Postmortem racism includes but is not limited to the exploitation of deceased bodies of color without consent through the violation of grave sites, the act of dissection, and preservation and display. Such exploitation is for the purposes of science, medicine, entertainment, or the interstices of all three, resulting in edutainment. As an example of postmortem racism, I will focus on the visual representation of lynching and the material object of the photograph and its reframing as both an artifact of white supremacy and as a means for contesting violence and racism through its use in anti-lynching campaigns. As I will argue, such oppositional gazing within African American communities occurred not only within political movements, but through sites of resistance such as the studio of photographer James Van Der Zee, whose photographs of postmortem African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance provided agency and self-possession for the rising middle class within Harlem.

MERE FLESH: HOW CORPSES MEAN AND MATTER Margaret Schwartz Fordham University, New York, USA
What kind of thing is a corpse? Under what category of experience does it fit? Neither object nor subject, the corpse is defined by its reference, by its status as remains. How, then, does it become a meaningful object, the centerpiece of modern bereavement? As the examples of the Argentine desaparecidos and the North American victims of 9/11 illustrate, it is uniquely painful to mourn in the absence of a dead body. Practices of preparing and viewing the dead body are still widespread, even in cultures where cremation has become the norm. As the technological media available for such practices expand, corpses figure in a variety of texts, from postmortem photography to QR coded gravestones, which download images and information about the deceased to a mobile phone. These proliferating representations tell us much about the corpse in media texts, but little about how the corpse itself functions as a meaningful thing in the world. This paper provides a critical introduction to the corpse as representational, as textual. I argue that the corpse is never merely material, but is always mediated by cultural and representational practices that confer meaning. Using the corpse of Argentine First Lady Eva Pern as an example, I show how embalming and photography work together to create a representation of the deceased in the medium of her own flesh. This analysis allows us to unpack the processes by which a corpse such as that of Pern becomes a highly charged political body, mobilizing affect and action in diverse and startling ways.


Thursday morning Defining death Eric M. Stryker (Southern Methodist University), moderator ALL THINGS MUST PASS: THE DYING OBJECT IN THE 20TH CENTURY Hanna C. Baro Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz/ Max Planck International Research Network on Aging, Italy


2010 saw the 50th anniversary of the death of Jean Tinguelys Homage to New York (1960), a work that famously self-destructed during a performance in MoMAs sculpture garden in New York. Not everything went according to plan during the machines meticulously choreographed suicide; though, in the end, Tinguelys idea succeeded: with vociferous noise, spewing smoke and steam, the work fell into pieces and eventually died. Peter Selz, then curator at MoMA, underlined the metaphor of the dying object when he remarked of the work: Its dynamic energy as well as its final self-destruction are they not artistic equivalents for our own culture? Half a century after Tinguelys Homage to New York, in a time when popular media is torn between representations of enduring war and terrorism and a cult of longevity and eternal youth, contemporary artists are engaging intensely with notions of mortality, transience, and death. Taking Tinguelys work as a point-of-departure, this paper will examine contemporary artists use of similar modi operandi to illustrate the broader implications of the current discourse on ephemeral artworks. One example of this is Urs Fischers replica of Giambolognas Rape of the Sabine Women that was on display during the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Comprised of a 1:1 scale wax model, which doubled as a candle, the work slowly melted down during the course of the event until nothing was left of it except for a few waxy lumps on the floor; thus reflecting the inevitability of the passage of time and the temporary nature of life. This paper offers insight into how contemporary artists strategically employ concepts of fragility within their made objects, thus invoking not only the transience of materiality, but more importantly, the metaphysical discourse deterioration and decay provoke in contemporary art and society.

A key feature of Antonn Dvaks Requiem Op.89 (premiered in 1891) is a musical motto that opens and closes the work and is repeated many times throughout its six movements. It is flanked by a second motto (present only in the last three movements) that is different yet clearly derived from the original one. This paper will interpret the original motto as a representation of death in the shape of musical Otherness (in terms of its melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structure). The motto usually appears unaccompanied, stands alone, is harmonically ambiguous and can be read as a weak and unsuccessful attempt to get away from something (its central note) while the second counter motto is fully integrated into melodic, harmonic and rhythmic developments, most of the time opening longer thematic units. It appears as if Dvak tries to find a way to integrate something that is outside the normal musical remit into his compositional proceedings, in other words, as if he tries to make death part of normality (life) rather than its opponent. However, the original motto never withdraws fully and re-emerges strongly at the end of the last movement, overpowering its derivatives. The attempt to domesticate death has failed; it has reinstituted its Otherness. My reading of this composition thus indicates an almost philosophical discourse executed by way of a specific artistic treatment of an age-old liturgical text. Dvaks requiem was not written for the liturgy but for the concert hall, thus facilitating this approach as he did not have to care about religious doctrine or the pragmatic limitations of a funeral mass.


Thursday morning/afternoon


The Moch was a culture that lived along the Pacific desert coast of present-day northern Peru from 100 to 800 AD. In this harsh dry region, catastrophic conditions periodically caused by the weather phenomenon we call El Nio disrupted the careful agricultural balance necessary for survival and created an intimate familiarity with death. Death and religion were strongly interconnected. Severe and seemingly ferocious deities demanded sacrifice for sustenance. Lacking a written language, however, the enigmatic images on masterful artworks found in Moch burials largely remain a mystery. Many attempts have been made to analyze Moch art, but no theory manages to encompass the plethora of puzzling meanings present in Moch iconography. This paper will examine the unique perception of death and dying of the Moch culture and attempt to fill in the gaps where other theories have fallen short. Through exceptional ceramics, one in the shape of a skull, and other masterpieces of Moch art depicting animals, warriors, shamans, and rulers at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, I argue that death was depicted in multiple ways, sometimes serious and sometimes humorous, that served varying purposes for different aspects and stages of life.

Cultural Responses to Death Herbert R. Hartel, Jr. (City University of New York), moderator MATA AHORA: FROM PRESERVED HEADS TO BARONIAL PORTRAITS: RE-PRESENTATIONS OF THE ANCESTRAL IMAGE IN MAORI MOURNING RITUAL Ngahuia Te Awekotuku University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Maori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. In ancient mortuary practice, the preserved tattooed heads (upoko tuhi) of the notable dead continued to engage with the living, and the newly deceased. They were consulted with, cried over, actively cherished, and beautified for display at death rituals and exhumations. If taken as war trophies, they were degraded and abused. They remained a constant presence. This changed after 1769, and the arrival of Cook the British explorer, whose crew collected some as artificial curiosities, making them commodities in the early 19c musket trade. Christian missionaries arrived in 1814, and ensured that this nefarious commerce was outlawed by 1831. The practice of preserving heads eventually declined. By the mid-nineteenth century, Maori were familiar with two other introduced processes; the plaster life mask, and emergent photography. Into the next century, Maori sat before the camera; as exploited innocents; as voluntary subjects of cartes visites, and also as purposeful agents in the process itself. Much of this late 19c visual material provided the basis for the portraiture of colonial artists like Goldie, Lindauer, and Darby-Ryan. Chiefly families across the tribal regions of both islands commissioned these artists; their works are now in both public and private collections. Many are still seen at mourning rituals, propped up or hanging with contemporary photographs around the encoffined deceased, whose image is also exhibited. This paper considers the portrayal of the ancient and recent dead for Maori, and how, despite Christian interference and colonial incursion, traditional mourning practices have been sustained and honoured by introduced ways of making images.


Thursday afternoon THEMES OF DEATH AND DYING THROUGH THE EYES OF PRE-COLUMBIAN PERUVIAN ART Rick OLoughlin University of Houston, Texas, USA


This paper reviews the themes of Death and Dying in Pre-Columbian Peru. The presentation focuses on the cultural and religious of the major civilizations that predated the Incas. The societies reviewed are the Sican, Vicus, Chavin, Nasca, Wari, Tiwanuka, and Moche peoples. All seven civilization are reviewed with the major concentration of this paper focuses the Moche civilization. The presentation will utilize the art of these cultures especially pottery as a means of analyzing their relationship to death and the supernatural. The Moche although similar in their theological and philosophical approach toward death and dying differed greatly with the others through their art. Moche art focused more on portraits, narrative scenes and conflict as opposed to abstract and impersonal styles of the others. The paper explores how this differing approach both clarifies and yet compounds the comparison.

Our present day experience with death has become rare and rarefied, confined to hospitals and to funeral parlors. The time of mourning has also become circumscribed to the immediate period of the event, celebrating the life of the deceased in codified behaviors that seek to ameliorate the experience of loss. While consistent with Christian beliefs, we must also wonder if this approach is yet not another consequence of our market economy and the political correctness that often denies and ignores the unpleasant aspects of life. In contrast, in the Spanish Peninsular culture the other extreme may be observed. In the past mourning was strictly codified by set periods according to the degree of closeness to the deceased, usually in periods of years. Other mores defined proper mourning by way of dress and withdrawal from social activities. This type of mourning is depicted and criticized in the play The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garca Lorca. Set in the backwards rural Spain prior to the Civil War of 1936, it portrays an exaggerated view of the honor code associated with mourning not far from the reality of the time. This presentation will discuss attitudes towards death and dying in the United States and some Spanish speaking countries as illustrated by Spanish literature that exemplifies the difference in views. The conflict is introduced by one of my poems, which remits to Ramn Sijs Eulogy by Miguel Hernndez. Finally, while critical of the types of behaviors described by Garca Lorca, this paper also questions present day practices in the United States, as examples of the commoditization of death in a consumer society, and its denial by a culture that has become more and more centered on youth and beauty.


Thursday afternoon Death personified in Mexico and border culture Guillermo De Los Reyes (University of Houston), moderator DEATH INCARNATE: PERSONIFYING DEATH IN MEXICO Salvador Olgun New York University, USA


Written by Joaqun Bolaos and printed in 1792, La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte is one of the first novels published in Latin America. The main character of the novel is Death, a female Death whose life and deeds, from cradle to grave, are narrated in a series of fragments that follow a rather episodic and disjointed structure. The novel is accompanied by a series of illustrations created by Francisco Agera Bustamante, which represent some of its passages. Bolaoss text constitutes a milestone in the construction of Death as a character in Mexico, and the illustrations were seminal for its future iconographic and visual representations in the country. In Bolaoss novel, death is conceived as more than just a force of nature: it has agency, opinions, passions, and even a gender. This peculiar way of conceiving death has roots in the pre-Hispanic world, as well as in some art forms and ideas brought into the country from Spain. Nevertheless, his picaresque vision, the traits of Bolaoss character, and the iconic force of the illustrations set the ground for a vision of the afterlife that is unique to Mexico. Bolaoss character bestowed presence and a personality on Death, and Agera gave it a face and a body. Their work would have a great impact in the countrys literature and iconography. It resonates in the oeuvre of other artists and in popular imagery: from Jos Guadalupe Posadas engravings to the Lotera deck of cards, and from the Calaveras traditionally written for Dia de Muertos, to the work of poets like Jos Gorostiza. La Portentosa is an early example of an artistic and cultural tradition in Mexico characterized by its drive to establish a close relationship with a personified Death, still visible in phenomena such as the worship of Santa Muerte.

REPRESENTATIONS OF DEATH IN MEXICO: LA SANTA MUERTE Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba University of Texas at San Antonio, USA
Before death became de-personalized and its representations erased in most Western societies, such as the United States, different cultures enjoyed the presence of their dead as part of their daily lives. One particular example were wooden dolls representing the dead, called lale in Polish, a word that today means childrens dolls. This was true of many other cultures, such as Indonesia, where to this day the dead are represented by dolls, and funerary houses are built. Nevertheless, perhaps one of the places where diverse representations of death most permeate daily life in modern times is the Mexican society. This is due to the conflation of different traditionsthe Native Mexican and the pre-Reformation Catholic that collided since the Spanish Conquest, as well as to present-day social circumstances. The Aztecs had their representation of the land of the deadMictlan--with their respective god and goddess, Mictlanetecuhtli and Mictecachuatl. The Spaniards, on the other hand, brought their own medieval imagery of death as a caped skeleton with a scythe. In colonial Mexico there was a popular representation of death in the form of la carreta de la muerte (death cart). Nowadays, perhaps the most widely known images are those associated with the Day of The Dead, such as los altares de la muerte and calaveras (death altars and skulls). Notwithstanding, a new representation, that of an unofficial saint called Santa Muerte, which started in mid-twentieth century as a private devotion among the marginal population of Mexico City, is spreading rapidly, both in geographical and sociological terms. It expanded to Central America and the United States, and it is practiced mainly among parts of the population that deal with transitions and danger. I examine representations of death focusing on this ambiguous figure that is becoming popular among different segments of Mexican society.


Thursday afternoon/Friday morning CONVERSATIONS WITH DEATH Beatriz Guzman Velasquez University of Texas-Pan American, USA


My work expresses an innate connection I have with the mortuary rituals practiced by the low social class of the MexicanTexan border. I am compelled to capture mortuary landscapes and personal narratives that go against the Anglo notion of death being the opposite of life. In my works, Death and Life coexist in the same place just like in el Da de los Muertos where the dead are present; pleased with their favorite foods, beverages, songs and most importantly no obstacles impede them to return to the place they dearly love. The latter has formed my recent concentration which consists of uniting my memories as an immigrant and creating an impossible situation where death can take me back to Mexico. These images have often the presence of a woman playing an important discourse with death. As a visual artist and writer, I am interested in cherishing and understanding the role death plays at the Mexican-Texan border. In the course of my life, the way people die has changed. My intention is to further investigate how public death has come and changed the discourse border people have with death and how rituals get transformed.

The cemetery as metaphor for identity Leslie V. Wallace (Hood College), moderator FORM AND REFORM: JOHN STRANG, J.C. LOUDON, AND THE FUNCTIONAL LANDSCAPE OF THE CEMETERY Sarah Hoglund Boise State University, Idaho, USA
In late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Britain, the disposal and memorialization of the dead emerged as a site of social and cultural crisis. From those who claimed that miasmatic emanations from the densely packed graveyards were poisoning the living, to those concerned with the potential desecration of corpses by so-called bodysnatchers, many had begun to feel that burial reform was necessary for the sake of both the living and the dead. This paper will explore the ways that Britons in this period began to conceive of burial spaces not just as places for burying the dead, but also as sites in which they could construct an idealized symbol of national identity. Focusing on the writings of John Claudius Loudon, for whom the cemetery appeared, almost literally, as a series of images, I will argue that the health benefits said to accompany the radical overhaul of modern burial were inseparable from the cultural benefits of a carefully constructed cemetery. Within these precisely landscaped grounds and neatly graveled walks, the populace would encounter forceful images of national pride and domesticity, and thus, he hoped, be compelled to behave appropriately.


Friday morning AMONGST THE DEAD IN LA CELESTINA Brys Stafford University of Toronto, Canada


My paper will focus on death and the dead in Fernando de Rojass La Celestina. This late 15th-century Castilian work was written while the general population continued its gradual movement from rural to urban environments, underscoring the on-going shift from feudal societies to capitalist economies. The significance of death as a public act and spectacle in La Celestina, a work that represents these growing urban environments, is significant as it suggests a lack of private space in the early capitalist sphere of the city. In my paper, I will argue that the prominent position of the already dead in the text, encountered in the cemetery visited by the go-between Celestina and her companion Claudina, commits those who have died to an active role in the construction of urban social life. Furthermore, by means of Celestinas proclamations and descriptions, I will argue that she traffics in the economy of archetypes. In other words, she identifies and manipulates other characters that seem to exemplify traits similar to those found in works that draw on courtly love discourse. In the developing capitalist economies of urban space, the discourse of courtly love, still popular in late 15th-century Castilian literature, seems awkwardly integrated. In that vein, I aim to demonstrate that, like the graves that she robs, Celestina is able to control characters exemplifying stereotypical traits of the courtly lover or maiden, rendering them essentially already dead in the capitalist sphere of the city delineated in the novel. Accordingly, I will contend that Fernando de Rojass text brings representations of death towards an accurate urban portrayal, while concomitantly highlighting the artificial nature of characterizations and mannerisms on display in contemporary courtly love literature in which death was viewed as a private or concealed experience.

This paper will focus on a beaded tapestry (often called drapo, or flags) made by the Haitian artist Myrlande Constant to commemorate the earthquake of 2010. The piece, titled Bawon and Brijit Weep, uses a medium that originates in the devotional arts of the Afro-Haitian religion Vodou. Measuring more than seven feet long and six feet high, of solid beads, the piece is monumental. The scene depicted in the tapestry centers on the Bawon Samdi and Gran Brijit, two spirits who reign over the world of the dead. The Bawon and Brijit are standing in the cemetery surveying the destruction of the city. The tombs extend beyond the cemetery, through the ruins of the citys landmarksthe now iconic collapsed palace and cathedraland the piles of bodies and rubble. The worlds of the living and dead are no longer clearly demarcated. This paper will place Constants Bawon and Brijit Weep in the context of other works of contemporary Haitian art that envisage the nation as a cemetery. I argue that in artistic representations the cemetery offers a means of imagining a commons, or a public, in a historical circumstance of mass displacement from the countryside to the city. These representations draw on the annual celebrations for the dead at the beginning of November, which constitute Vodous most popular and public holiday. Drawing on interviews with Constant and fieldwork on festivals of remembrance in Port-au-Princes massive necropolis, I bring together methodological and theoretical approaches from performance studies and art history to understand the significance of performance, memory, and collective grief in Constants epochal work.


Friday morning Women in mourning Megan Reddicks (Detroit Institute of Arts), moderator REPRESENTING GRIEF: VISUAL IMAGES, GENDER, AND THE MOURNING RITUAL IN GOTHIC TUSCANY Judith B. Steinhoff University of Houston, Texas, USA


This paper considers the ways in which 14th century Italian depictions of the funeral of the Virgin Mary intersected with legal and other contemporaneous vernacular sources about grieving customs in trecento life. While Italian fourteenth-century representations of funerals or grieving rituals for lay individuals are virtually non-existent, images of the deaths of important religious figures drew in varying degrees on their audiences recognition of familiar mourning rituals and expressions of grief to help reinforce social and religious concepts of the proper way to mourn in trecento Italy. As we know from studies of saint plays, texts and images of various female roles inscribed multiple messages, including social and religious notions of decorum. I have previously researched images depicting the Lamentation over Christ, in which the behaviors of female mourners are differentiated according to their sacred or secular status, as well as images of male and female saints funerals. These studies have led me to conclude that grief over the dead was depicted not only to express (and elicit) emotions, but also to serve as a role model for mourners, especially but not exclusively women. These trecento pictorial expressions of mourning encoded the cultures complex, often conflicting attitudes toward grief. In this presentation, I focus on the death of the Virgin Mary. While the Virgin was consistently identified as an ideal model for Christians in her extreme emotional response to Christs death, Marys own death was described by Christian authors as an exemplar for the good Christian who has faith in salvation rather than as an occasion for feelings of loss. The images I analyze give visual form to these apparently contradictory messages about death and grief in trecento Italy.

The study of trauma and its effects is considered to be a modern phenomenon -- one which accounts for both physical and psychological wounds. Representations of war in the visual arts provide excellent grounds for exploring such an intersection. This topic has pervaded art for centuries and conventional interpretations were realized by 19th and 20th century modernists with an emphasis on battlefield carnage. There was a simultaneous shift of a different sort in British art at the end of the 19th century. When Neo-Victorianists, like John Byam Shaw, Evelyn Pickering de Morgan, and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, considered the subject of war, they made the conscious decision to communicate its effects as experienced by the loved ones left behind. As civilians, these artists were not immediate witnesses to the atrocities of war, and as such, represented the subject how they personally experienced itvis vis newspaper accounts, soldiers recollections, and other artists first-hand renderings. These Neo-Victorian representations are therefore personifications of bereavement and desolation. The male bodies are conspicuously absent; in their place are female mourners who become abstractions of grief. Their sorrow is therefore to be treated as a monument to an unseen and painful loss on both a personal and national level. These allegorical treatments will be addressed in terms of the feminization of war, an idea which developed in late Victorian painting, and was visualized by Shaw, de Morgan and Fortescue-Brickdale.


Friday morning


In a letter of 1 October 1914, Maurice Ravel wrote to his friend Roland-Manuel to tell him that he had begun composing the piano suite Tombeau de Couperin, and also relayed that he heard that their friend Marguerite Longs husband had been killed in combat. The fact that Ravel both dedicated Tombeaus final movement to Longs husband, and desired Long to premiere the work, suggests that the two news items in this letter are connected. Ravels Tombeau enabled the composer to express his grief over Marliaves death and offered Long a vehicle for the expression of hers. Ravels and Longs contemporaries recognized this connection between grief and musical performance; Roger-Ducasse, for instance, wrote to Long in February 1915 that piano practice would save her and give her the desire to live again. But precisely how might Longs piano practice have functioned in this way? This paper explores Marguerite Longs expression of grief in her performance of Tombeau de Couperin. I argue that Ravels preoccupation with grief in the years during and after the war led him to compose works for Long in which the piano provided her with a means for negotiating her grief through physical gestures that produced emotional transformation. I support this argument through evidence from archives in Paris, including heretofore unexamined correspondence between Long, Ravel, and other musicians in their social circle. These sources reveal information about mourning practices within Ravels and Longs social circle that have not yet been considered by other scholars. This paper therefore examines the relationship between mourning and musical practice in early twentieth-century France, while rethinking Ravels Tombeau as written not only for soldiers who died, but also for those who survived them.

The face of death Helen Valier (University of Houston), moderator DEATH IN WAX: FUNERAL CEROPLASTICS IN THE EUROPEAN 17-18TH CENTURY TRADITION Roberta Ballestriero The Open University in the North West, Manchester, UK
The art of wax modelling or ceroplastics has an ancient origin, funeral masks, for example, were produced from an early age and since 300 AD became widely used in the West. The ancient Romans created masks and images of the deceased in wax, during the funerals effigies were laid on the parade bed, with portraits of the ancestors kept in niches. Ceroplastics was rediscovered in the 14th century Italy with the cult of votive artefacts. With the advent of Neoclassicism this art continued to survive in a scientific environment with funeral effigies and waxworks museums leading to the creation of beautiful collections. The few surviving examples in Europe of ceroplastics apply to the culture of the dead are kept in the Westminster Abbey of London. However, this tradition came from the French funeral effigies that started, according to Schlosser, in the 13th century. The French model was taken as an example by other countries. In England but also in Venice there were similar kinds of ceremonies for the funerals of the Doges that appeared in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the Republic, in 1797. From devotional to funeral effigies wax has played an important role in the power of images because its main characteristic is represented by its capacity to afford a remarkable mimetic likeness far surpassing that afforded by any other material. The possibility of creating extremely realistic and strongly evocative works justifies why wax was chosen throughout centuries for funeral masks and effigies. These doubles of the deceased were often capable of producing a variety of sensations. Through the funeral masks and effigies kept in London and Venice, this paper will analyze this very aspect of the art, the ability to move the viewer, to charm or annoy him in a way no other medium is capable of doing.


Friday morning


Four rare ceramic masks from Costa Rica share unique qualities that distinguish them from other Pre-Columbian masks. Originating from the area of Greater Nicoya, Costa Rica, the masks (ca. 1-500 C.E.), combine selective naturalism with abstraction in their depiction of an important biological and spiritual event: the transformation from life to death. In particular, I argue that these Costa Rican masks are distinctive in their portrayal of the postmortem biochemical events that accompany death, and in the high degree of accuracy used to communicate the complex series of physical changes of decomposition. Understanding what these Costa Rican masks may have meant to those who created and used them relies on methodologies from the humanities and sciences. A visual analysis allows an initial reading of the masks, while anthropology facilitates an exploration of the dynamic relationship between masks and death, elucidating the role of ritual in death. Anthropology also supports the assertion that these masks depict the postmortem events that occur between biological and spiritual death, while the central hypothesis that these masks depict decomposition within an abstract treatment is reinforced by the postmortem biological processes. Ethnographic studies of the indigenous Costa Rican Bribri, and parallels between Mesoamerican and South American archaeological evidence contribute to an understanding of how the masks were used by their creators. The cross-cultural comparisons shed light on the significance of the Costa Rican masks, as well as placing them within the context of other ancient American practices. Ultimately these masks embody what is perhaps the most important rite of passage in the human life cycle our final transformation from life to death.

My paper argues that Etruscan funerary affinal couples, spanning the period from approximately 600 B.C.E. to 100 B.C.E., represent the ancestors of the families aligned in what some scholars theorize are essentially theocratic regional leagues throughout Etruria. These funerary urns are often animated, intimately portrait-like, and usually inscribed with the full names of the husband and the wife including the full names of each of their parents. These elements suggest that the preservation of their lineage was an important, continuous, active, and fairly consistent practice until the early period of Romanization. My analysis of these urns will demonstrate that their unique iconography reflects the agency of familial ancestors in the tomb, whose union was venerated as the conduit to a joyful afterlife via a performative reunion celebration of a banquet or a spiritual anointment. The portraiture and epigraphy of the Etruscan couple thus was adopted as the emblem of family unity, which they believed continued into the afterlife and which decorated many family urns, especially in Volterra, where the names were eventually translated from the Etruscan language to a Latin syntax. I conclude that this strong portraiture of ancestral and family unity appears to have permitted the Etruscans to somewhat retard the pace of their Romanization through this new kind of blended nationalism. It allowed the Etruscans an opportunity to synthesize their iconic motifs, inscriptions and ancestry with those of the Romans, as their Etruscan ancestors lent the power of their agency as the ancestors of the Romans. To support my argument, I shall draw from my original catalogue of all 43 known sarcophagi and urns that represent Etruscan affinal couples, spanning the period from approximately 600 B.C.E. to 100 B.C.E., with their bibliographic references.


Friday morning Experiencing loss in art and architecture Courtney L. Thompson (University of Houston), moderator


Burials, burial grounds, and funerary chapels were associated with urban churches until the late eighteenth century when there was a general movement in Europe and America to place cemeteries on the outskirts of cities in landscaped and forested terrains that resembled parks designed in the same period. Such a cemetery opened in Turku in 1807 on the southeastern edge of what was then the capital of Finland. In the nineteenth century the cemetery vastly extended its scope and in 1938 a competition was launched for a public burial chapel and mortuary. The winner of the competition, Erik Bryggman (18911955), produced a design, eventually named the Resurrection Chapel, considered to be a synthesis of modern functionalism and more mystical romanticism. The minimalism and austerity of functionalism is softened by an appreciation of vernacular traditions, both Finnish and foreign, and is infused with a sensitivity to the procession of the deceased and the mourners from darkness, to light, and back to nature. By the 1960s the cemetery had expanded even further and a second funerary chapel was required. The winner of another competition, Pekka Pitknen (1927-) was asked to respond to a much larger program that incorporated three chapels of varying sizes with a mortuary and crematorium. Pitknens solution placed the two larger chapels on the ground floor in an asymmetrical yet orthogonal arrangement of volumes, with walls reaching far into the landscape in the manner of early Miesian Modernism. These two buildings were both designed by Finns, separated only by a generation, yet the spaces within encourage different ways of understanding and accepting death. Two of the many varied facets of Modernism are presented in the architecture of these buildings.

But what use is art if it cant help us look death in the face? Julia Kristeva We find ourselves, in the early twenty-first century, in the midst of a paradigm shift regarding social attitudes toward death. Where better to gauge this transformation than art that timeless barometer of social and cultural upheaval and understanding? The phrase material culture of death immediately brings to mind a nineteenth-century mourning culture replete with memorial samplers, hair jewelry, postmortem photographs, mourning dolls, consolation literature, mourning stationery, all created for private use to mourn and come to terms with the death of a loved one. But what of the material culture of death in the twenty-first century? Do the artworks indexing contemporary mourning remain in the private sphere or do they move to the public spaces of galleries and museums to inform a society still grappling with the inevitability of death? When and if they do transfer from the private to the public, is their significance diminished? I will address these queries in my discussion of works made by four contemporary women artists who have permitted public access to their inner worlds of mourning and death. Daphne Todds Last Portrait of Mother, a posthumous painted portrait, fits perfectly into the traditional/conventional mold of material mourning culture. Spring Hurlbuts Deuil, I and Airborne and Sophie Calles Rachel Monique and Pas Pu Saisir la Mort demonstrate connections to that same tradition but with a twist. Conversely, Marina Abramovics Nude with Skeleton does not mourn or memorialize the deaths of individuals. Instead, the artist addresses the fears and issues concerning her own mortality and invites viewers to consider theirs - perhaps even to look death in the face.


Friday morning DIANE VICTOR: ASHES TO ASHES Pamela Allara African Studies Center, Boston University, Massachusetts, USA


Like Goya and Hogarth before her, South African artist Diane Victor is an artist-moralist who has used her virtuosic technical skills to expose the vices of violence, and greed that have caused so much human suffering in pre and post-apartheid South Africa. In her recent work, the Transcend and the Lost Words series (2009- 2011), these moral failings have transmogrified into the frailties of the flesh. Moral approbation has given way to mortality, the end point of all humans, whether good or evil. Victors recent drawings in ash and charcoal, which despite their monumentality, are very vulnerable physically, refer, in her words, to the ephemeral and transient aspects of human mortality. Although as both the Angel of the hearth, preserving morality, and, as well, the official mourner of death, Victor assumes roles traditionally assigned to women, she strips these conventional Victorian tasks bare of clichs and reinvents them. Her life-sized, naked portraits of individuals in nursing homes present us with images relatively rare in western art history: the embodied individual facing the inevitability of death. Interested in the loss of accumulated information, wisdom and narrative that occurs when someone dies, she decided to create the drawings in these two series from the ashes of burned books that the sitters had either read or had written. Her work presents some central questions about death and dying, most especially, what will be preserved of the histories of these individualsthat is, how do their lives matter after their material bodies have disappeared?

Death and the fantastic Margaret Schwartz (Fordham University), moderator DEATH AS CONFRONTATIONAL AND EMBRACING IN SYMBOLISM Herbert R. Hartel, Jr. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City Universty of New York, USA
Although a common theme in Symbolism, little has been said about how the Symbolists depicted death. Christian, mythological and literary subjects and traditional narrative and symbolism were often used. However, some Symbolist art depicted death in new ways that were shockingly direct, confrontational, and intimate, and which departed from the greater spatial, emotional and psychological distance that was more traditional. This change is rooted in Symbolisms fascination with the strange, mysterious, frightening and morbid, its sensuousness and eroticism, its concern with moral and social deterioration, its uncertainty about the meaning of life, and its non-mimetic stylistic innovations. It was probably conditioned by mid-nineteenth century positivism, which made blunt, unflinching depictions of harsh realities a defining aspect of Realism. Thus, some Symbolists used their fascination with the frightening mystery of death to create disturbing, provocative images that oscillate between the real and the macabre, and contemplate the unknowable experience of the climactic moment of death and whatever afterlife there may be by tantalizing the viewer with personifications of death as terrifying and seductive, incomprehensible yet imminent, tangible and diaphanous. Those who are dying are often seen at the moment of death, as ordinary people stalked, frightened, embraced or taunted by otherworldly spirits, demons and ghosts. It seems this new approach was most common among those Symbolists with psychological problems and troubled personal lives. It is apparent in Edvard Munchs Self-Portrait in Hell, Arnold Bocklins Self-Portrait with Death and Ilse of the Dead, Odilon Redons Dreams and The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Ferdinand Hodlers Night, Felicien Rops Death and the Ball, Auguste Bromses The Girl and Death, Paul Gauguins The Spirit of the Dead Watching, Jan Toorops Oh Death, Where Is Thy Victory?, Alberto Martinis Human Passions, Carlos Schwabes The Grave Diggers Death, many drawings and prints by Kathe Kollwitz, and Gustave Klimts Life and Death.




Between 1890 and 1930, a new form of psychical research emerged in Europe and North America, one that focused on the psychosomatic production, or materialization, of the deceased by living mediums. These so-called ectoplasmic, teleplasmic, or teleplastic phenemona differ markedly from survival of bodily death as imagined by Spiritualists earlier in the nineteenth-century, which sought to capture ghostly apparitions of the deceased as photographic memento mori. In contrast to the faint visitations that populate these prints, materialization photographs depict the bodily excretion of spirits as flocculent, mucilaginous, gossamer, and globular material substances. This project explores the archival and published visual records that resulted from the trans-Atlantic interest in ectoplasmic activity. Thinking with and against the histories of science, photography, and art, I consider these unusual representations of post-corporeal consciousness in relation to changing understandings of prima materia, the possible materiality of light, and the Surrealist concept of beaut convulsive. Additionally, I argue that materialization photography reflects (and contributes to) shifting understandings of memorys function and form at the fin-de-sicle. Looking to the influential writings of the French philosopher Henri Bergson, (especially his 1896 treatise Matire et Mmoire), nascent psychoanalytic discourse, and organic theories of memory circulating during the period, I suggest that ectoplasm photography sought to reconceptualize how the living remembered the dead. Ultimately, ectoplasm images stress the difficulties and deficiencies of commemoration. In so doing, they make literal the processual and material theories of memory that emerged at the turn of the century.

WHAT VAMPIRES TELL US ABOUT DEATH Mary Y. Hallab University of Central Missouri, USA
The folklore vampires of Eastern Europe, from which our own are descended, are themselves very likely descendants of ancient gods and goddesses of the dead or the underworld that continued to function in connection with beliefs and rituals that justified and explained death and assured spiritual immortality. Although we no longer believe in them, our modern vampires still retain the aura of the uncanny that suggests to us an Other, transcendent World. The proposition of a human being that can override and defeat death raises at least theoretical issues about the nature of death, its inevitability, and the possibility of immortality. If nothing else, the vampire brings death to our attention. In our modern world, until recently, death has been treated as unthinkable, un-discussable with our children, avoidable if we just eat the right food or buy the right tires. But from Carmilla to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, children learn that imminent death is a condition of life. Toward the end of the Buffy series, Buffy tells her assistant Slayers that what they have been doing is all about death; they are all going to die: Death is the big dessert at the end of the mealeven for the vampires. In almost every vampire work, death is the central theme. At its best, the vampire, as a numinous figure, gives death a significance and grandeur that it seems to have lost in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when it is so often hidden, ignored, reasoned into invisibility, or worse, into neurosis. The powerful figure of the vampire justifies our innate awe and fear of death in a world that brushes off such emotions as irrational and childishor worse, as unproductive.


Friday afternoon The virtuous prepare for death Sarah van den Berg (University of Texas, Medical Branch), moderator THE GOOD DEATH IN THE HEURES DE ROHAN Megan Reddicks Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA


The opening illumination to the Office of the Dead, folio 159 in the fifteenth century book of hours known as the Heures de Rohan (MS9471, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris), presents an exceptional visual representation of the Christian notion of the good death. This paper will explore the rich, multiple connections to religious, artistic, and linguistic movements of the period, all of which come together to render this opening illumination of a deeply moving scene of the hour of death. The inclusion of the Office of the Dead in books of hours allowed their patrons to meditate on the fleeting nature of life, those who had died before them, and the preparations necessary for ones own soul should death arrive early. This illumination is a potent image of contemporary religious ideologies on the judgment of the soul immediately after death and the need to do penance to avoid or lessen time in Purgatory. The contrasting image of the distorted, ashen body of man with the glowing splendor of Heaven at the moment of death fuels the scene with emotion. The decaying form of the dying man recalls the familiarity with death in the early fifteenth-century from the Black Death to popular macabre motifs found in other artistic media like sculpted transi tombs. The text embedded within the image presents the most curious problem. The dying man uses his final breath to pray in Latin, only to have God respond to him in vernacular French. It will be proposed that the use of the vernacular by the figure of God is tied directly to biblical passages and the visual representation of God. The reader of the Heures de Rohan would be reassured by the text and image that his own soul could be saved.

Encompassing nearly 300 square feet of canvas, Rembrandt Peales The Court of Death (1820) presents a frieze-like tableau of twenty-two figures that visualizes a scene inspired by the Anglican Bishop Beilby Porteuss popular poem Death: A Poetical Essay of 1759. The expansive composition centers upon the allegorical figure of Death, who presides over a litany of writhing figures of human tribulationsdisease, intemperance, war, etc. Only the aging man who has led a virtuous life, literally supported by the figure Virtue, can approach Death with a calm, fearless assurance. As William Oedel has stated, The Court of Death was the most sensational American painting of the 1820s, and while the scale and subject matter of the painting certainly contributed to this status, Peale himself played no small role in encouraging the sensationalization of the painting for its exhibition. Peale used the subject of death to attract a wide audiencepamphlets about the picture underscored the dreadful nature of the paintings theme and attempted to lure viewers by promoting the fact that the painting included the appearance of a DEAD BODY. Ultimately, though, Peale hoped to employ his representation of death in appealing to viewers moral sensibilities. The painting fits within a burgeoning tradition of pictorial sermons in America, and while The Court of Death does not replicate a biblical scene as does Benjamin Wests Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple (1817) or Death on a Pale Horse (1796; 1817), it tells a parable-like story with a pithy lessonthat those who lead a virtuous life need not fear death. The painting enjoyed an especially long life in popular culture throughout the nineteenth century, long after its initial public exhibition and national tour from 1820 to 1823, and the numerous, varied references to the painting reveal the ways in which Americans used and understood images of death.


Friday afternoon Representaciones de la Muerte Marcela Guerrero (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), moderator LLEG LA SANGRA AL RO: LA MUERTE Y EL MAGDALENA EN LA LITERATURA COLOMBIANA CONTEMPORNEA Ana Mara Mutis Independent Scholar, Colombia


The image of the polluted river that carries floating corpses is a recurring motif in contemporary Colombian literature. This paper compares the literary depiction of the Magdalena River as a river of death in Laura Restrepos La novia oscura to Gabriel Garca Mrquez El amor en los tiempos del clera. Though its true that these novels coincide in presenting the Magdalena as the scene of Colombias deterioration and destruction, the river of La novia oscura explores the connections between natural space, individual conscience, and national reality, all the while commenting on, and questioning, the message the Magdalena is made to convey in El amor en los tiempos del clera. This paper seeks to elucidate the dialogue Restrepos novel opens up with that of Garca Mrquez, particularly with respect to the representation of death in the Magdalena and the function of the ravaged river as a national symbol.

In a number of literary pieces in the western world tradition, death has typically been represented as an obscure episode related to mourning and sadness, brought about by ceasing of life or the departure of a dear one. However, in Hispanic Literature we find examples of how death is a symbol of laughter, a carnival, the celebration of new life and rebirth. For instance, this kind of festive representation of death is portrayed in the narratives of Colombian writer Gabriel Garca Mrquez. Short stories such as Big mamas funeral depict the celebration of death in the decease of the most powerful matron in the world. This kind of representation is also observed in the narratives of some other Colombian Caribbean authors, which reveal an inversion of values in a Bakhtinian carnivalesque sense of the world: the deceased becomes the center of the spectacle, and mourners the participants and performers of a cirquesque function. In this presentation, I will focus on different literary examples, to explain the illustration of the death as a carnival and rebirth, in relation to the tendency of Colombian Caribbean writers to explore their coastal popular culture.


Friday afternoon LOOKING DEAD SEXY: GENDER CONSTRUCTS, PHOTOGRAPHY AND DEATH Camilo Hernndez Castellanos Northwestern University, Illinois, USA


This paper aims to explore the complex and multilayered relation between deaths materiality and its visual articulations. It does so through a close analysis of the work of Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides, whose images were widely published in sensationalist Mexican tabloids during more than four decades (from the late forties to the early nineties), and which more recently entered the international museum and gallery circuit. Metinidess harsh but carefully composed images of corpses, urban accidents, homicides, and suicides, not only facilitate the exploration of the social mechanisms and ethical implications at stake in the public display of death (and in the aesthetic portrayal of human tragedy), but also allow us to study it not as a concept or as a metaphor but as a social and cultural reality best represented in the corpse. In this talk particularly, we will inquire the epistemological protocols used by social and historical constructions in their symbolic re-creation of a gendered corpse. Through the close analysis of one of Metinides most representative images, Adela Legarreta Killed by a Car, we will approach some of the representational structures by which images of death bring into play the binary tensions of gender constructs, as life/death engages permutations with masculinity/femininity and with fantasies of power and control. The articulation of this gendered structures will allow us to implicitly engage in some of the central questions posed by the corpse when understood as a cultural signifier: Who or what does a corpse represent? How is a corpse represented and articulated differently for the purposes of mourning, of law, of the news media, of aesthetization in a symbol? And, who sees these articulations? In whose name does one look? Can the visual representation of death be considered as a meta-topos of the representational process itself?

Christian responses to death Wolfgang Marx (University College, Dublin), moderator VISIONS OF DEATH AND EXPECTATIONS OF LIFE AMONG EASTERN CHRISTIAN ASCETICS Jonathan L. Zecher University of Houston, Texas, USA
In all your acts, keep death before your eyes, remarked Abba Arsenius, a Roman senator-turned-Egyptian-monk around the turn of the fifth century CE. Early Christian ascetics--and their monastic successors--deliberately lived with death before them, dwelling on (or remembering) death as a means of motivating and shaping their lives, ethically and aesthetically, toward particular ideals of asceticism and, more broadly, Christian religion. The practice of remembering death begins, however, from the representation of death--from those expectations which the word conjures up in the memory. For Christian ascetics, these expectations concerned a divine judgment and an expectation of an ethically (and religiously) divided life available on the other side of death. This paper will, by looking at several popular, though varied, descriptions of death and judgment in Greek Christian literature from the 4th through 7th centuries, attempt to trace the contours of early Christian representations of death, as these were deployed in the developing ascetic literary tradition. In doing so, I will seek to accomplish three interrelated tasks. First, I will introduce the audience to several interesting but little-studied genres of literature: Byzantine apocalypses, monastic gnomic literature, and the great Eastern Christian anthology, the Philokalia. Second, I will show that these variegated representations of death developed along certain trajectories within the malleable cluster of Christian funerary practices, apocalyptic beliefs, and a core of dogmatic theology. Third, I hope to show, that by careful attention to the ways in which ascetics represented judgment after deathwho judges whom, what the criteria are, what the possible resultswe may better understand what Christian ascetics and those who share their tradition think most important in the present life.


Friday afternoon


In 1969, British composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies premiered what would become one of the most memorable if chilling works in his repertoire: the solo dance piece, Vesalii icones. Named after one of the most famous physicians in modern medicine, Andreas Vesalius, Vesalii icones (or images of Vesalius) is a tribute to his magnum opus, De humani corporis fabrica, particularly to the muscle men of Book II: fourteen etchings depicting the step by step muscular undressing of a cadaver. De humani constituted an anatomical revolution in the sixteenth century, but the strangely dance-like quality of Vesaliuss animate dead continues to ensure them as modern objects of morbid fascination. Vesalii grew from Davies decision to superimpose Vesaliuss muscle-men onto the Stations of the Crossthe portrayal of Christs final, agonizing hours on earth in fourteen gory tableaux. At first blush the relationship between these two image sets appears to be one of opposition (e.g. the first is scientific, the other religious). Looking closer we discover that each functions as a kind of pathology report on a lone, center figure. Behind the scenes, moreover, each guides us to observe a lessening dependency on fleshy substancean earthly loss figured as an aesthetic or spiritual gain. In Vesalii the seeming obviousness of this equation derails when the dancer depicting Christ finally emerges as a grinning Antichrist, the harbinger of destruction and end time. Vesalii, I contend, stages a devastating critique of Christianity by illustrating Christianitys own reversal of the natural cause-and-effect relationship between life and death. The figure of Antichrist points to the spectacle of raw flesh that guarantees the perennial spectator appeal of both the Stations and Vesaliuss lurid nudes. In so doing it exposes the shattering secret of Christianity: the belief that the most important part of living is that we die.

Mito y Misticismo Ana Mara Mutis (Independent scholar), moderator DYING ANTIGONE: THE ONE QUE NO SE SUICID Pedro Gutierrez University of Houston, Texas, USA
Anyone in the field of Antigone knows well that trying to enter her tomb is asking for trouble. And if your Virgilian guide, in this case, is Mara Zambrano, youre asking for double trouble. Why, you would ask. Lets see. In our westernized culture it is difficultif not impossibleto find any other literary icon more attractive, throughout centuries, to artists, writers and thinkers than Antigone. But of all the hundredsif not morehermeneutics on Antigone, it was Mara Zambrano, an exiled Spanish philosopher, who finally made the apodictic discovery: Sophocles (and all his followers?) was wrong. How can Sophocles be wrong, everybody would argue. Zambranos answer is quite precise. Sophocles had made an inevitable mistake: Antigone would have never killed herself; on the contrary, she continued dying in her tomb! So, if Mara Zambrano is rightand she really has some strong possibilities to bewe have a whole new finding for rethinking Antigone. The first objective of this presentation is to explain a) how the inevitable mistake of Sophocles can be corrected, and b) what Antigone did while dying. The second objective is more of a working hypothesis: if the Anglo-Franco feminism Luce Irigaray (1974), Carol Jacobs (1996), Patricia Mills (1996), Judith Butler (2000), Julia Kristeva (2010)--would have read through Zambranos speculum (Antgona 1948, 1967), would they have rearranged differently some of their assessments? Maybe, who knows




Being born and raised as Juan Robreo del Sauz in The Bandits of the Cold River by Manuel Payno, implies a major journey into the deep Mexico of the XIXth century. Conceived out of wedlock by Mariana del Sauz, daughter of the Count of Sauz, and Juan Robreo, son of the manager of the hacienda belonging to the Count of Sauz, Juan is separated from his mother at birth and falls into the hands of the native, Matiana, who steals him to sacrifice him as an offering to the goddess Tonantzin, and in so doing saves the life of Pascualas yet unborn son. Juans death in exchange for Espiridins birth provokes Deaths first patrol for Juan, the mystical patrol, indigenous, the one belonging to the Aztec gods that honors and calls to sacrifice. Death that succumbs to the arrival of a new life. Espiridin lives, and is born before Juans sacrifice. The struggle between Death and Life as mystical entities accompanies Juan on his painful journey between illegitimacy and nobility. In each of its rounds Death configures itself to trick Life; indigenous Death, cheating Death, slave Death, Death darkened by the smell of orphanages, Death in the end. For Death it is easier to hound a defenseless and abandoned orphan, and her rounds become more frequent the more weak and vulnerable Juan becomes. Therefore Death becomes displaced as Juan becomes stronger and ascends in his vertiginous journey to nobility. Death approaches those who invoked her so that Juan could become inconceivable and to tear away his life. Life and Death mark Juan Robreos fate in a continuous struggle between dying and living.

Cuenta la leyenda popular guaran que durante la guerra guaz (Guerra contra el Paraguay) exista un pintor sin nacin al que los soldados llamaban T ANG APOH (el hacedor de figuras) o el fantasma que pinta fantasmas. Dicen tambin que las balas no podan alcanzarlo y que pintaba hasta el atardecer: escapaba antes de que la noche llegara, preocupado por los espectros de los soldados cados. Augusto Roa Bastos, el escritor paraguayo, describe a este pintor de guerra como un sonmbulo en medio de la muerte pintando la muerte. Este trabajo explora las diferentes visiones/versiones de la muerte en la guerra en la obra pictrica del pintor y teniente argentino Cndido Lpez durante el conflicto armado que enfrent a la Triple Alianza de Uruguay, Argentina y el Imperio del Brasil contra Paraguay desde 1864 hasta 1870. El anlisis se centra en un corpus de pinturas y textos que se enfocan en hechos que distan de ser considerados hitos nacionales para la narrativa histrica de los pases de la Alianza, ya que sealan la tragedia y la violencia abyecta de guerra conducida contra el Paraguay. Es, al mismo tiempo, un intento desde los estudios de cultura visual para contextualizar la prolfica obra de Cndido Lpez y particularmente su fructuosa obra visual que relata la mayor derrota del ejrcito argentino: la serie de Curupayti. x En la serie el pintor argentino compone al Paraguay como una nacin golpeada por el terrorismo de sus estados vecinos y representa a los soldados paraguayos humanizados a travs de la muerte. Con esto los memorializa, convertidos en los verdaderos hroes de la trgica campaa que llev al exterminio de la nica potencia mediterrnea en el continente durante el siglo XIX. El estudio de estos productos culturales nos abrir la posibilidad de analizar la obra de Cndido Lpez desde el borde de los grands rcits formulados por las polticas expansivas de los estados victoriosos involucrados en el conflicto.


Saturday morning The body as medium Ngahuia Te Awekotuku (University of Waikato), moderator OBJECTS OF IMMORTALITY: HAIRWORK AND MOURNING IN VICTORIAN VISUAL CULTURE Rachel Harmeyer University of Houston, Texas, USA


Objects of Immortality: Hairwork and Mourning in Victorian Visual Culture examines the aesthetics of death and dying in the nineteenth century in Europe and America and argues that the transformation of hair into hairwork was a means to give mortal remains an immortal body. Hair was a sentimental gift that expressed love, and was often made into hairwork objects and jewelry. After death, hairwork became an artifact of remembrance, an object to be used in mourning. The form hairwork jewelry took changed over time: after 1830, hair was no longer merely preserved under glass, but could be elaborately braided to form bracelets, necklaces, and watch chains. Unlike other studies on this subject, the present one proposes that this function of hairwork can be understood in the context of ideal images of death and dying in the visual art of the period. The idealized body lying in repose, without decay, was an image that arrested the popular imagination of the nineteenth century and impacted its visual culture. The desire to preserve the bodies of the dying was acted out on an aesthetic level: by capturing the last moments of the subjects life in a sketch or painting, taking death masks, and later through post-mortem photography. For those that wore or displayed hairwork, the significance of hair lay in its perceived vitality. Hair was seen as an extension of the body that could endure indefinitely: it recalled the living state of the body, and could survive after the rest of the body decayed. For those who created it, hairwork had the capacity to reconstruct the body into an ideal form that could live beyond death.

ON THE USE OF HUMAN REMAINS IN TIBETAN BUDDHIST RITUAL OBJECTS Ayesha Fuentes University of California at Los Angeles, USA
Since at least the fourteenth century, Tibetan Buddhism has created a number of ritual objects with human bones. These include ornately decorated skull cups, thigh-bone trumpets, and intricately carved beads or plaques of human bone, woven into aprons or girdles. The use of human remains in ritual objects in this region has its origins in religious practices centered in cemeteries and charnel grounds. Specifically, the antecedents of this tradition are represented in Tantric, non-Buddhist communities of south and central Asia which have been active since the third century CE. Over a period of centuries, esoteric and Tibetan Buddhists adopted and amended their practices, using these types of ritual objects to illustrate their ideologies and institutional values. In so doing, skull cups and similar items were transformed from rudimentary forms, becoming refined and highly ornamented. To this day, these objects are part of the distinctive religious and material culture of Tibetan Buddhism in which the use of skull bowls and other articles produced with human remains is restricted to highly advanced devotional exercises. This presentation will introduce these objects, their essential elements, and historical integration into Tibetan Buddhist ritual culture and arts. In addition to the religious and art historical perspectives, physical evidence such as the types of materials used and the ways in which these objects are constructed will be discussed in order to build a thorough examination. Human remains and corporeal death have associations in Tibetan Buddhism that are cultivated, mitigated, and represented by the production of these objects. This project explores a material tradition that harnesses and embellishes evidence of bodily death in order to represent intangible values.




This paper focuses on the work of the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles (b.1963), whose entire oeuvre revolves around the idea of death. She holds degrees in both art and forensic medicine, and in the 1990s she simultaneously worked on her artistic career and at the Mexico City morgue. Consequently, from the beginning Margolless art blended the world of art with that of the morgue by adopting human remains parts of corpses, blood, skin, small pieces of flesh, and the water used to wash corpses as her media. Despite the crudeness and illegal nature of her work, it has not caused any significant controversies in Mexico. It was rather her participation in the 2009 Venice Biennale what shocked international spectators, who called her work: gut wrenching, a temple of blood, and even disturbing. The installation was titled What Else Could we Talk About? and bluntly exposed the alarming violence that has afflicted Mexican society in the last decade. Considering the actual state of violence and impunity of Mexico, it would be easy to dismiss the complexity of Margolless work by simply categorizing its necrophiliac aesthetics as a byproduct of her surroundings or even as a critique of the status quo. Although the local criticism of her work is undeniably relevant to its particular context, her work should also be read in the broader context of Latin American Conceptualism, and within the narrative of Mexicos quest for a truly national art. Furthermore, Margolles work must be also understood as part of if not an evolution within an ancient, yet ongoing Mexican affair with death.

Artistic explorations of dying Amy Powell (Blaffer Art Museum), moderator AFTERIMAGE AND AFTERLIFE: DEREK JARMANS BLUE Eric M. Stryker Southern Methodist University, Texas, USA
Blue, the last film created by English artist and film-maker, Derek Jarman, before he died of AIDS-related complications, is commonly referenced in relation to the cultural politics of gay and AIDS activism. Jarman indicated that the last thing he saw before going blind was a flash of blue. Making this monochrome film, thereafter, is rightly understood as the production of an afterimage a color memory at the precipice of death. This paper discusses the economy of sensory (un)availability in this film. In keeping with a range of visual cultural practices involving the representation of death and memory (for instance, spirit photography), the film pivots on a range of paradoxical absence/presences. autobiographical presence in sound, not image; monochrome as void and color-field; and voiceover carrying images projection does not. However, unlike earlier visual modes engaging with death, Blue relies on a fragmentary soundscape that projects queer subjectivity onto the color field through three heretofore unrecognized devices: the first through shifting references resonant with Derridas notion of spoken languages failure to yield complete signs; the second spiraling compositional devices (i.e. the orbital movement of eyes and circular lists of names of dead) to elicit a multivalent and contradictory autopoesis that is dissolved in the resonant non-image; and, finally, the dissolution of this subjectivity as electrical signal in a simultaneous broadcast on national television and radio networks.


Saturday morning TODESTRIEB IN TRISTAN UND ISOLDE: THE DRIVE FOR DEATH AND SEX Susan de Ghiz University of Texas at Brownsville, USA


Many scholars have written about death in the final scene of Wagners opera, Tristan und Isolde, more commonly known as Isoldes Verklrung, or Transfiguration. Indeed, the Transfiguration is often (mistakenly) called Liebestod, which literally translates to love as death. For Wagner, it was Schopenhauers philosophy, which led to the acceptance of his own fatalism. Although Schopenhauers pessimistic views are well known, Schopenhauer also examines deaths opposite. In his unpublished notebooks, he questions why, of the two events that mark the start and end of our existence, namely conception and death, that conception has been relatively ignored. Schopenhauer writes: If I am asked where the most intimate knowledge of that inner essence of the world, of that thing in itself which I have called the will to live, is to be found, or where that essence enters most clearly into our consciousness, or where it achieves the purest revelation of itself, then I must point to ecstasy in the act of copulation. That is it! That is the true essence and core of all things, the aim and purpose of all existence. Even in his chapter on the metaphysics of sexual love from The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer suggests that the Will expresses itself above all in libidinal desire. Freud summarizes this aspect of Schopenhauers philosophy as Todestrieb, or death-urge. He explains that death is the true result and purpose of life, while the sexual instinct is the embodiment of the will to live. In the Transfiguration, the notion of Tod or death is obvious; however, perhaps we should focus a bit more on Treiben or the urge or drive. In my paper, I discuss how Isoldes Transfiguration is saturated with both sex and death, and how easily these two topics seem to overlap.

Representations of deaths or dying are rare within the Mughal miniature painting oeuvre. The majority of existing images that depict death are parts of larger battle scene or accounts of hunting accidents. Two images known as Dying Inayat Khan stand apart, and have held a precarious position within the tradition of Mughal miniature paintings. The drawing of 1618 and the painting of 1633 depict Inayat Khan as a dying man, whose likeness was taken after being summoned to the court of Jahangir. While these images have been included in many volumes about Mughal painting, scholars have failed to explain how they fit within the tradition of Mughal miniature painting and why Jahangir would order the creation of the image. Through an analysis of Jahangir based on his memoirs, the Jahangir-nama, Dying Inayat Khan can be better understood. Jahangir was a keen observer of the world around him and diligently recorded odd occurrences in nature. Scholars have studied the images of and writings on the odd plants and animals in the memoir as nature studies. The emperors writings also included matters of the state such as accounts of tributes paid, royal celebrations and deaths at court. The portrait of Inayat Khan, however is different when compared to the other death accounts because it more closely reflects Jahangirs study of animals then his eulogy of the dead at court. I argue that Dying Inayat Khan fits within a tradition of nature studies specific to the reign of Jahangir, and had a mnemonic function for Jahangir. Through an analysis of the content of the Jahangir-nama, Dying Inayat Khan can be seen as not only an example of a nature study, but as an image that held a greater weight with the emperor.


Saturday morning Resurrection and rebirth in Latin America Sebastin J. Daz-Duhalde (Dartmouth College), moderator SACRIFICING THE SUN IN NEW SPAIN Laura Grace Kilroy Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA


In eighteenth-century New Spain, one of the most popular religious devotions was the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Often displayed as floating in the air, surrounded by brilliant rays of light, and bleeding from a wound, images of Christs heart simultaneously evoke his bloody martyrdom and divine resurrection. In the Catholic world more generally at this time, Christ was understood as a sacramental sun and solar divinity, as someone who burns with love and illuminates the world. This is suggested in eucharistic monstrances that frame the host with golden rays, and paintings and sculptures encasing Christ in a radiant mandorla. However, in the context of New Spain, did the notion of Christ as a sacrificed and resurrected sun became more complicated? Prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1521, certain cultures, like the Mexica (Aztecs) offered the hearts of sacrificial victims to the sun (Tonatiuh) to stave off cosmic destruction by feeding the gods. It was also understood that each night the sun had to battle dark forces to be reborn triumphantly every day. After the Conquest, Christ was conflated with various Mesoamerican solar deities, and his symbolic status as the light of the world continued in this transformed atmosphere. With the development of the Sacred Heart cult in the eighteenth century, images of Christs pierced, bleeding heart encased by light continued to evoke solar associations. Is it possible then that the substitution of a heart for Christs entire body resonated with Mesoamerican ideas about the sacrificed sun and even human sacrifice? Or was it too late in the viceregal era for these ideas to have continued? This paper addresses the possibility of hybridized religious ideas in New Spain, as well as how images possibly encoded notions of Christ as sacrificed sun, heart offering, and resurrected god.

DEATH AND RESURRECTION IN THE ART OF REMEDIOS VARO Mey-Yen Moriuchi Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, USA
Remedios Varo, a Spanish surrealist artist who emigrated from her native country and settled in Mexico, is celebrated for her small but innovative legacy of paintings. Her intimate, magical tableaux represent a fantastical universe drawing on alchemy, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and botany, to name but a few inspirations that have been discussed in the scholarly literature. This paper examines the theme of death and resurrection in Varos paintings, a subject that has been alluded to but not fully explored in her oeuvre. In works such as Varos Woman Leaving the Psychoanalysts Office (1960), the heroine leaves the psychoanalysts office, her white hair flying in the wind, her body and face wrapped in a heavy brown cloak. Her face is veiled covering her nose and mouth, leaving her mute and constrained. The duplicate, mask-like face embedded in the folds of her cloak is also veiled leaving her nose and mouth concealed. Freud associated muteness and silence with death, symbolism that would have been known to Varo who studied Freud, Jung and Adler. Could the veiled, mute heroine emerging from psychotherapy be akin to Freuds Goddess of Death? But then, how to explain the active agency on the part of the heroine who strides forward as she is about to drop the disembodied head of her father? I will argue that Varos paintings that symbolically refer to death were directly involved with her concerns of rebirth, fecundity and resurrection. In her last work before she suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of fifty, Varos produced Naturaleza Muerta Resucitando (Still Life Being Resuscitated, 1963). The Spanish title is relevant as Varo depicts inanimate objects, emblematic of death and decay, energetically swirling in mid-air around a vibrantly lit candle as they are resurrected upwards.


Saturday morning Capturing the time of death Arlene Macdonald (University of Texas, Medical Branch), moderator THE WAY SHE LOOKED THE DAY SHE DIED: VERNACULAR PHOTOGRAPHY, MEMORY, AND DEATH Amanda H. Brown University of Colorado at Boulder, USA


Focusing on a private photographic memorial album held in the Special Collections Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB), this paper will explore the relationship between photography, death, and memory in nineteenthand early twentieth-century photography. While discussions of photography and death typically focus on mortuary photography (photographs of the dead), this paper will instead focus on memorial photography (photographs of the deceased before death); to date, what little research exists on memorial photography has dealt primarily with single images rather than albums. In contrast, this paper will focus on how memorial photography functions in an album format, with particular attention paid to the implicit narrative of these albums. Compiled circa 1913, the UCB memorial album traces the life of a Philadelphia resident, Carol Warren Benson Philler, who died at the age of twenty-five. What distinguishes this album is an inscription written on a portrait pasted onto the last page of the album, which reads, this picture of Carol taken Christmas 1907 was wonderfully like her a day or two before died--in fact the day she died. This final combination of image and text signifies the enactment of a private mourning ritual and narrative in which photography serves to fix forever the deceased in an image of youthful innocence and beauty. This paper will place the album in the context of postmortem photography, singular memorial photographs, privately printed memorial books, and the family album, and, drawing upon Roland Barthes Camera Lucida, will read the album vis--vis the relationship between photography and memory.

The depiction of the exact moment of death the fragment of a second in which a living human being becomes a soulless corpse has always been one of the biggest challenges of the art of painting. Visually representing a dying person or an already-dead cadaver are relatively easy solutions for treating death, but showing the very moment of transition is a problem implicating the whole temporal complexity of an immobile art exploring narrative content. More generally, isolating the instant of death or, for that matter, any instant is also a philosophical conundrum, as shown by Saint Augustines musings on time in his Confessions. Baroque art is a fascinating historical locus of these problems, as it is traditionally considered to be interested in depicting precisely the ephemeral, in particular bodies frozen in the midst of an action. And indeed, around 1600 Caravaggio paints a series of representations of the moment of death, unwittingly inaugurating a new era of painting defying Renaissances aspirations to eternity. In the footsteps of Caravaggio, the Hispano-Neapolitan painter Jusepe de Ribera continued the pictorial exploration of scenes in which a protagonist usually a martyr saint is in the process of dying. In this paper, Riberas treatment of several such scenes will be analyzed, and put in the context of the complex temporality of post-Caravaggesque Central Italian painting. Riberas depictions of death taking place will also be linked to contemporary explanations of the process in which the soul leaves the body and death comes about.


Saturday morning ANIMATING DEATH Olivia Banner Rice University, Texas, USA


How do our experiences of digital technologies today influence our conceptions of death? How do visual representations of death influence or reflect ongoing struggles to define the boundary moment between life and death? These are some of the questions this presentation will explore through the example of Gaspar Nos experimental art house film Enter the Void (2009). The film loosely tracks what happens to consciousness in the moments just preceding and following its protagonists deathalthough when that actual moment occurs remains confused throughout the film. The film also explores psychoanalytic theories about cinematic spectatorship and identity that describe the subject as formed through lack, trauma, and Oedipal configurations. It ultimately suggests that these theories are insufficient to account for our relationship to the cinema in a time of such digital technologies as animation and special effects, digital technologies that are techniques the film employs to construct this confusion over the moment of death. In this, the film implies that our new digital technologies are transforming our experience of life and death because they are involved in ongoing changes to how we define the moment of death. In a world in which we can bring things to life through animation techniques, our digital technologies increasingly help us to ignore, separate us from, the reality of death. They allow us to fantasize that, as in our experience of the cinema itself, time can be suspended, processes can be started and stopped, and that perhaps our post-human digital world will one day make death and the death drive merely a quaint relic of a pre-digital past.

The passing of an era Ayesha Fuente (University of California, Los Angeles), moderator HARMONY AND HYBRIDITY: IDEALIZED VISIONS OF THE AFTERLIFE IN MURALS FROM FENGHUANGSHAN, INNER MONGOLIA Leslie V. Wallace Hood College, Maryland, USA
Perched precariously on the boundaries of the Han and Xiongnu Empires, individuals buried in and around the Ordos Desert in northwest China during the Han dynasty (206 BCE- 220CE) lived in a world of continuously shifting political, social and cultural alliances. These fluctuating associations were also played out after death, with tombs in the region falling roughly into three groups: 1) those based on Han burial traditions, 2) those based on the traditions of other groups and 3) those that display hybrid burial traditions. This paper focuses on Fenghuangshan M1, a tomb excavated in Inner Mongolia, and painted with murals that depict a mixture of Han and non-Han groups and customs. Previous scholarship has attempted to connect this tomb with the Xiongnu or the Qiang, two groups living in the area at this time. My interpretation instead returns to what the primary function of these murals would have beenthe creation of a perfect world in which the deceased could live after death. I argue that in Fenghuangshan M1 this is not accomplished through the depiction of immortals or the worldly accomplishments of the deceased that appear in other tombs, but instead through an idealized vision of the culturally hybrid world in which the deceased had lived. Rather than a mere reflection of reality, however, the Fenghuanghshan murals ignore the growing political and social instability of the region just as the Han Empire was losing control and new groups were taking its place.


Saturday morning THE POETICS OF MEMORY IN A POST-PINOCHET CHILE Esmeralda Salinas University of Essex, UK


The period of 1973-1990 in Chiles history were politically volatile times. When most intellectuals and artists were fleeing, artists such as Eugenio Dittborn, Gonzalo Daz, and Guillermo Nez stayed in a repressive country that did not allow the questioning of its authority. Dittborn and Diaz stayed throughout the regime and escaped detention and torture. But, Nez did not; he survived five months of being blindfolded and tortured. These three artists represent an entire generation of artists that used cryptic messages to make a stand against the military dictatorship, using intense imagery that were critical of the current situation while referring to the past. Depictions referring to death and tragic loss run rampant throughout these artists work. However, one of the most intriguing periods of Chilean artistic production comes from what is called the 90s generation, (post-dictatorship) represented in this paper by Arturo Duclos, Josefina Fontecilla, Ignacio Gumucio, and Voluspa Jarpa. These artists were born at the start of the dictatorship or were young children at its outset, thus their memories of this period are much different than that of the previous generation. While much of these artists work refers to a world wreaked by tragic disappearance and deaths, the way in which they portray it is much more poetic, often exploring memory and evoking feelings of loss and longing. This paper examines these four artists of the 90s generation and explores key works in relation to not only death and tragic loss, but also to the previous generation of artists working under the dictatorship. Trauma studies are utilized to help illuminate how and, most importantly, why stylistic differences exist between these two generations of Chilean artists.


Saturday afternoon


Closing Keynote Address THE DAY OF THE DEAD: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE AND FAMILY Ward S. Albro Professor Emeritis, Texas A&M University at Kingsville, USA This presentation is based on almost a quarter century of visiting the celebration of the Day of the Dead (Da de los Muertos) in Oaxaca, Mexico. I will discuss the pre-Colombian background and the importance of involving the dead (antepasados) in the life of the liviing. Further, I will show how the Spanish Catholics then incorporated essentially indigenous practices into the liturgical calendar. The Day of the Dead remains the most important day of the year for the indigenous population, not only to honor the past but to celebrate the present. It is important to understand how observing death leads to a celebration of life. While great attention is focused on cemetery visits and public expressions of the event, the most important aspect of the Day of the Dead today in Oaxaca is in the homes with the families. Finally, I will consider the wider aspects of the Day of the Dead; how November 2 has become a national holiday in Mexico; the significance for tourism; how and why making fun of death has become so popular in Mexico and even in the United States; and what effect all this has on the essentially indigenous observance of Muertos.

Ward S. Albro is professor emeritus at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and currently lectures at The University of Texas at San Antonio and at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center in San Antonio. He is the author of Always a Rebel: Ricardo Flores Magn and the Mexican Revolution (1992), the award-winning To Die on Your Feet: The Life, Times, and Writings of Prxedis G. Guerrero (1996), and The Day of the Dead, Da de los Muertos (2007; photographs by Denis Defibaugh). For the last twenty years he has been taking groups for historical-cultural tours in Mexico.


Floor Maps


Basement: M.D. Anderson Library

Classroom 10-F Classroom 10-G Restrooms Stairs


Floor Maps


Floor One: M.D. Anderson Library

Restrooms Stairs


Floor Maps


Floor Two: M.D. Anderson Library

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion Restrooms