Dead End, October 2010

"Preparations for death" is the title of a series of photos by Erez Israeli chosen by the editors as the cover figure of the 18th issue of the Proceedings of History and Theory. There is something disturbing in Israeli's work, precisely because at first glance it seems to be trivial and evokes in the viewer's mind associations to many iconic images taking both from the history of art (such as Hans Holbein the Younger's Dead Christ) as well as from the realm of documentary photography (such as the photo of Ernesto "Che" Guevara's cadaver). Works of Israeli artists, such as Adi Nes and Yigal Tumarkin, are also brought to mind. However this work unveils the complex issues concerning the possible dialogue not only between life and death but also between the artist and his work and between the documentary and the staged.
In each of the pervious issues of the Proceedings the subject of death was present, one way or another. The current issue is dedicated entirely to death in art and culture.
In the process of editing this issue Joshua Neustein, whose virtual exhibition is included in this issue, wrote us:
Nothing is more tiresome than forcing art to become a handmaiden to 'themes'. […] When we speak of Death and Art we speak of death IN art or death OF art, art ABOUT death (less interesting) we speak of the death of authorship. Termination and Vampirism. Vampirism is a sort of living death. […] Just because an artist sculpts a scull or bones, a murder or war does not shed light on the subject or the art.[…]
It would be shallow, as well as wrong, to address the issue only in trivial terms of "End", "Void" and the "Frailty" of the human body. Nor there is any novelty in revealing our simultaneous repulsion and fascination with death. The eleven articles amassed here, together with the eight virtual exhibitions, are testimonies to the fact that death has many faces and that the approaches taken by both artists and scholars reveal a wide variety of attitudes towards this very vivid subject.

*All the articles were submitted in Hebrew accompanied by English abstracts.