Friday, 29 January 2016

Requiem: From the Cradle to the Flames

Requiem by Goran Bertok is a beautifully packaged affair. It consists of two books called Postmortem and Visitors, both covered in charcoal card, Japanese stab-bound with black thread, the titles cut into the covers.

There's a gatefold sleeve with two little boxes or pouches for the books to go into and it opens and closes quite delightfully.

Open up the books though, and it's not all delightful. Postmortem is a series of images from a post-mortem. They're more focussed on the face and its details; the layering of white mould on the eyes and the skin, the transformation of living skin into something dead and waxy, then something live and consumptive.

The other book is of a cremation. Again, the images are small on the page, very modest and low key as they show the flames of the cremation, at first as a full-bleed flames only image, before breaking into smaller images that show the burning skull as it becomes ever-more skull like and then gradually disintegrates into a ghostly union with the flames. There are intimations of horror and the spiritual here, it's death as a spectacle, and as such I wonder if these pictures, which are quite sinister couldn't be bigger, or if this would be too much of a shock to the system considering all the supernatural and hellfire images that spring to mind.

There's nothing new in the pictures. It's post-mortem work (think Serrano), decay (Sally Mann) and cremation (Sue Fox) , but that doesn't really matter. It's a strong book that has been beautifully made.

Buy Requiem here. 

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