I see this as the first in a suite of nine books entitled on death and exploring various conceptions of actual and theoretical deaths. Or, alternatively, I am interested in the history of loss. This inaugural book was inspired in great part by Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II wherein our protagonist King of England is deposed by his wife, usurped by his son, and ultimately murdered by anal impalement with a hot poker, all for having a male lover he refused to denounce.
The flowers refer to various codes and nods to queer histories. The mirrored narcissus flowers are an allusion to Caravaggio’s painting Narcissus. He was known to have held male prostitutes as both lovers and models. The green carnations are for Oscar Wilde, who wore one in his lapel during his criminal trials in which he was convicted of gross indecency with other men. He perished after a year of hard labor in prison. And so, the lilies stand for death itself.
I was also interested in posturing for this series and how, through the body, I relate to different sexualities. The faceless centerfold is so intriguing; kind of the glorification of ‘70s gay lust through porno mags. But I grew up in the post-AIDS educational system where it was definitively taught that men having sex with other men would result in death. So there is something deviant to me in this red, pantomime phallus.
The reverse image is 1/9th of a much larger photograph (eventually 33” x 51”) that will be comprised of the backs of all nine books. It is a soft, gradiated, purple-to-yellow sunset. Absolutely benign, but the sun rising and setting is one of those few daily occurrences that stops us in our tracks and, momentarily, obliterates the weight of time. I believe that remembrance is a choice, and to stop for even a moment is to forget. In stitching together these nine books on loss and turning them around to reveal a glimpse of beauty, we continue to pull the thin veil over our eyes.