Vantage Points: Death (Artists: Romina Ressia and Rachel Stern)
By Daniel Kapp
Have you ever seen that movie Vantage Point with Dennis Quaid and Sigourney Weaver? It wasn’t the biggest blockbuster and it wasn’t up for any Oscars, but then again, 2008 was a tough year. I do recall, however, that the film followed a standard plot line – the assassination of some big political figure, maybe the President, while he was giving a speech. Each of the main characters in the film took us through their individual perspectives on the event, eventually leading the viewer to the resolution of the film – discovering who had attacked the President.
The subplots of Vantage Point really stuck with me. I was intrigued that two (or more) people could experience exactly the same scenario and interpret it entirely differently. This left me with a simple idea: find two artists who approach the same subject with individual perspectives.
And thus, the birth of Vantage Points, a weekly series that will feature two photographers and their alternate perspectives on one subject. This week’s subject – death.
"Superman" © Romina Ressia, "Alice" © Romina Ressia, "Wonder Woman" © Romina Ressia
Artist Romina Ressia’s series “Not About Death” features images of our favorite childhood superheroes and storybook characters in their caskets. Ressia’s work confounds our society’s obsession with good triumphing over evil and comments on how this concept has become ingrained in us through the popularization of these characters. We don’t consider the eventual demise of a superhero. They’re presented to us as invincible – youthful and athletic. But in Ressia’s photographs, we see the faces of average people – not superheroes – and this reminds us of reality. Life has a tangible ending. We are neither invincible, nor super, sadly, and this series reflects upon this in a really charming way.
"(Install Shot)" © Rachel Stern, "Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, 2016" © Rachel Stern, "(Install Shot)" © Rachel Stern. Images courtesy of the "Black & White Gallery / Project Space".
In a different vein, artist Rachel Stern photographs garden cemeteries in her series “Yes, Death” and presents her response to the subject. In this project, Stern points to the function of graveyards in the 1800s as structures that had been initially constructed as public cultural spaces for people to, oddly enough, enjoy themselves. We’ve come a long way since then and often find ourselves avoiding cemeteries at all costs. These are not places to recline anymore; they’ve become places to mourn. Stern’s photographs force us to digest this transition and consider the more playful side of death as it used to be. As Stern says it, “Yes, death is grim, but it’s also kinda’ cute.” Stern’s series will be on view from June 17th –July 31st, 2016 a the Black & White Project Space at 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, New York 11206. Visit www.blackandwhiteprojectspace.org/rachel-stern for more information.
Article © Daniel Kapp