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4 Digital photographic prints, each 59 x 80cm.
For these photos I have appropriated imagery from 16-17th Century Dutch Vanitas paintings, which traditionally represent themes such as the transience of life and the certainty of death. Originally made as part of an international interdisciplinary project looking at the psycho-social effects of heart transplant, ‘Still Live’ explores some complex themes that arise for heart transplant recipients and donor families, such as: living and dying, proximity and distance, loss and rejuvenation, and the distinction between self and non-self. But, based on a still life tradition that invites thoughts of change and entropy more broadly, these four photos also function to represent these difficult themes more generally. Reflecting on what it means to be alive, they offer a universal reminder that everything is temporary. Vanitas and other symbolism is used to challenge us to consider the moment and nature of “death,” whether being “alive” is dependent upon being a contained and “bounded” individual, what we mean when we consider ourselves to be “individuals” and the inter-connectedness of human lives.
In Canada, where the project that inspired this work is based, heart transplant recipients are prevented from knowing the identity of their donor, and vice versa, and contact between donor families and recipients is forbidden. Donor families are often traumatized by not knowing where their loved one’s heart has gone, and recipients are traumatized by not knowing whose heart is keeping them alive.