As an element of post-mortem photography, and in general, taking the corpse as material, either by refashioning its image, or through relics, would work as reminders and recollections of the body of the person, hence engaging with the living, through the other senses, such as “associated actions, sensations and emotions that are not directly visible within the image.”. Yet the audience is well aware of the living space around it that subtly frames an image of human monstrosity. By humanizing the dead Sontag, she inevitably immortalizes Sontag into the image of Sontag alive, breathing and lying on a couch. The emotional response that Leibovitz articulates in the photograph creates the human link whereby audiences are invited to reciprocate the response. By transcribing a moment, where Sontag is at her most ordinary and partaking in something that is so intrinsic to human existence – weary but simultaneously, at rest, Leibovitz sheds light onto an aspect of Sontag the world is not privy to. This topic of ethics and the related subject of voyeurism were championed largely by Susan Sontag’s own son, David Reiff, as well as many other critics from agencies such as the New York Times. In a way, this photograph also foreshadows the later photograph of Sontag in death. None of the doctors she initially consulted thought she had any hope at all, but she sought out aggressive treatments and she survived. The cause of such dissent may well have stemmed from the association of death with degeneration and decay, and conversely, the emphasis placed on according dignity to the dead. 4). However, to condemn the exhibition to public scandal would be to indubitably, fail to recognize the significance death photography in relation to the general human condition. It is the same life presented by Leibovitz in the exhibition that eventually humanizes the image of Sontag in her death for the audience. Curation in itself, as illustrated by Araki, with no semblance of emotional input, alienates the audience through the sense of distance already established – between object and audience. While sex is a topic that is usually associated with Araki, it is the picture of his dead wife Yoko, in her funeral casket (Fig. Rather, what these later concerns share is a broadly humanist outrage against injustice—an outrage which has become, thankfully, more mainstream in our culture since Sontag’s death in 2004. 7Evidence #11, 48×602008by Angela Strassheim, Fig. Between 1990 and 1995 she was a MacArthur Fellow. The overlapping of the photograph also delineates itself, into a second set hidden underneath the dominant photograph, suggesting a personal experience of Sontag only known to Leibovitz, purposefully and metaphorically, kept away from the public eye. Leibovitz attempts to recreate the same lethargic grace Sontag emanates in life, by dismantling physically, the stiffness of death and assembling the image to take on a more curved and even, … Recreating the dead through effigies, statues or other monuments played on the immortality of such physical structures, in direct contrast to the mortality and limitations of the human body. Fig. Susan at the house on Hedges Lane, Wainscott, Long Island 1988 Frame: 58.6 x 71.4 x 3.2 cm by Annie Leibovitz. The Books of Susan Sontag, Ranked A Fickle Superfan’s Guide to the Dark Lady of Letters. Susan Sontag bullied her lover, snapper to the stars Annie Leibovitz, mercilessly, telling her, "You're so dumb, you're so dumb," a searingly honest book about Sontag's life reveals. 1 San Diego Museum of Art, Working Exhibition Checklist, Available: http://www.tfaoi.com/cm/4cm/4cm526.pdf [Accessed: 1st September]. 11 ibid. Although a certain degree of voyeurism may be inevitable due to the nature of an exhibition (which implies a certain exhibitionist quality to the artist) especially in capturing images of death, Leibovitz makes attempt to bring this further, and in a way, allows audiences to pay their final respects and contemplate the death of this force of intellectual brilliance. A particular haunting image, “Evidence No. The Maybe 1995/2013. On October 2006, Annie Leibovitz published a series of photographs taken over the course of her 15 years as a professional photographer, entitled “A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005”. Statues of saints were created for the same aforementioned purpose: with the decay of the body, and the continuity of a soul that would pass into the spiritual world, visual memory took place by using physical constructs to override the transience of the body, and as a symbol for the perpetuity of the soul. To celebrate, we’re republishing a rare interview with her from the March, 1978 edition of High Times, conducted by Victor Bockris. This harks back to the photograph of Sontag at Hedges Lane. In contrast to the photograph of Sontag’s death however, the background does not create a sense of dimmed solemnity, rather, the anthropomorphic curves of the rock surrounding Sontag seem to give her a larger-than-life presence, while drawing the audience’s eye to her actual smaller and shadowy figure at the foot of the rocks. This work includes an installation of an elevated glass box, the description of which reads as “Tilda Swinton. Susan Sontag emanated from the “upper and lower crust” of american intellectualism and social thought. She was in her early forties when she discovered that she had stage 4 breast cancer. The former gave rise to much criticism, especially with regards to privacy and the rights Leibovitz had in publishing something that Sontag herself had no say in. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” To superimpose the ghost of those tragic moments that infringed upon the boundaries of life and death, and to realize the evidence of which is embedded on the walls and obscured from plain sight, renders the ostensibly innocent over-layer of the wall into something a haunting, all at once more menacing and sinister. For Leibovitz, the “glass box” here is represented through photography itself which articulates both the same distance and invitation to the audience. Perhaps in large part also, while this photograph may have garnered greater celebrity attention for Leibovitz, the publication and capturing could have acted as a form of release for Leibovitz, as a sharing of her life which was dominated by the presence of Sontag. Like scenes out of film noir, photography leads to the immortalization of something already immortalized – blood leaves a permanent stain even when emotions, humans, and even memory has faded away into oblivion/non-existence. As the other works that I shall be expounding upon exemplify, the black and white motif is significant as it strips away any visual distractions in the photograph, thereby transporting the viewer into the heart of the photograph. 13 Elizabeth Hallam, Jenny Hockey and Glennys Howarth, Beyond the Body: Death and Social Identity, (Routledge: London), 1999. 17 Ibid. In fact the hallmark of their relationship as lovers, lies in this photograph – this is Sontag seen through Leibovitz’s lens, unfiltered and in a natural state, with light cast upon her, almost lovingly. While Sontag’s death does not entail with it the same abhorrent implications, a stark contrast is struck here between Leibovitz’s photograph of death and Strassheim’s pseudo-forensic photographs. 8Evidence No. Her black and white images are long exposures, with minimal night light filtering in from obscured windows, each bearing a title that states the murder weapon and details of the events. While this highly personal photograph, that draws immediate focus towards Sontag as the centerpiece, might be enough for the discerning eye to realize the level of familiarity Leibovitz and Sontag shared, it is still difficult to accurately pinpoint the exact nature of their relationship. Her father was a fur trader … It is a simple picture. October 4, 2019. Her life as female American public intellectual was not without its tribulations as well, struggling with poverty in the 1960s and her highly opinionated and sometimes opprobrious writings were met with criticism and controversy. Vanitas itself refers to “vanity”, or otherwise, the transience of life and all worldly matters and pursuits and is commonly associated with the Bible phrase from Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas”. In “Evidence, #11, 48×60” (Fig. 7), the surrounding living conditions is explored in greater depth as the bloodstains are now part of the background. There is no ignoring her intensity and flashes of insight. Another key feature of this photograph is how it is split into several parts overlapping each other and stitched together with sticky tape, suggesting a kind of “physical deconstruction” of Susan Sontag through Leibovitz’s eyes, while the curved formation of the newly reconstructed photograph, removes, ironically, a certain stiffness in death that the otherwise normal landscape photograph might have portrayed. More often than not, this highly stylized, almost stale and overused characteristic underscores the figure-of-power at ease, and in Finley’s case, her tender, pale figure perhaps also enunciating eroticism. Dans ce livre, Peter Hujar associe des prises de vue dans les catacombes de Palerme à des portraits de la bohème newyorkaise. It is built on a culture that privatizes grief and perhaps also betrays the prioritizing of the healthy living over death – the publicizing of something so personal and guarded would definitely have scandalized audiences. You are going to disagree with what I say about her fiction, especially the early stuff. At the heart of this work, and also what drew the most criticism at that time, was the interspersing of personal elements amongst the professional; by blending in previously unearthed personal photographs of Leibovitz, her family and Susan Sontag. The content of the images also suggest that Leibovitz’s photographs go beyond voyeurism. 7 Angel McRobbie, While Susan Sontag lay dying, Open Democracy, Available: http://www.opendemocracy.net/people-photography/sontag_3987.jsp [Accessed: 28th September]. It is a posture taken, not uncommon to the rest of us. 18 Ibid. Oct 3, 2018 - Susan Sontag quotes, tattoos, photos, books, and products. The ability of photography as medium to provide a platform for human response to death can be seen by comparing the emotional responses of both Leibovitz and Araki. The Karen Finley picture is highly idiosyncratic of Leibovitz’s celebrity works: saturated with stark colour contrasts. A particular work from this collection that I would like to draw focus to is the untitled photograph of the corpse of Susan Sontag (above), laid out in its post-mortem, funerary state (Fig. 2Susan Sontag, Petra, Jordan199471.3 x 58.6 x 3.2 cmby Annie Leibovitz. Also printed on gelatin silver print, this black and white photograph captures the contrast between light and dark again, through its black and white medium, with the shadowy figure of Sontag being drawn into focus against the narrow white backdrop, and the immensity of the dark, towering rocks around her. It has that wonderful musty ‘old book’ smell, and I’m finding it fascinating to go through, picking up on some of the notes and highlights. I recently came into possession of a copy of Susan Sontag’s On Photography, and was delighted to see it contained hand-written notes made in pencil by a previous owner. From Sontag taking a walk in Paris, or nude and weary in the bath, to her, smiling ever so slightly in a car – the pervasiveness of Sontag in such themes of everyday life is curated carefully by Leibovitz. 4). 2 David Rieff, Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir, (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2008), p. 150. 3) features a naked Karen Finley, wearing only socks with her bare back towards the camera, but languid and lying across a sofa, in a similar fashion. This is juxtaposed against the personal undertaking of Leibovitz to capture and literally, craft out an image of Sontag that is accorded dignity and respect not unlike the saints in their death. If ever a single person was living proof that intelligence is a meaningless quality without modest common sense, it was Susan Sontag who died last week. In these interventions, Sontag was not unique, nor especially erudite, or even that radical. 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